If you’re a woman who has been told that you have fibroids, you’re not alone. These muscular tumors in the wall of the uterus are very common in women of childbearing age. By age 50, up to 70 percent of white women and 90 percent of African-American women may have fibroids. After menopause, the tumors usually shrink.
Fibroids are almost always noncancerous. Many women never experience any problems from them. Other women develop symptoms such as:
Heavy menstrual bleeding
Feeling of fullness in the lower belly
Pain during sex
Low back pain
Difficulty getting pregnant
Problems during labor and delivery
If you aren’t having symptoms, you may not need treatment. But if your fibroids are causing problems, several treatment options are available.
To manage milder symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medication, like the following:
Pain relievers (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen) to ease mild pain
Hormonal birth control (such as certain birth control pills or the Mirena IUD) to reduce heavy bleeding during periods
Iron supplements to prevent anemia caused by heavy periods
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (such as Lupron) to treat anemia or shrink fibroids prior to surgery
If you have more severe symptoms, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure, such as:
Myomectomy to remove fibroids while leaving the rest of the uterus intact—a good choice for women who want to become pregnant later
Hysterectomy to remove the entire uterus
Endometrial ablation to destroy the lining of the uterus, which reduces heavy bleeding during periods
Myolysis to destroy fibroids with an electric current or freezing
Uterine fibroid embolization to block the blood supply to fibroids, which causes them to shrink
The choice of procedure depends on the size, location, and number of your fibroids as well as whether you want to have children in the future. Talk with your doctor about which treatment option is right for you.
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