Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are noncancerous growths that develop in the muscular tissue of the uterus. These growths are quite common, with up to 80% of women experiencing them during their lifetime. While most fibroids are small and do not cause any symptoms, larger fibroids can cause pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and other complications. Here are some key points to understanding and managing uterine fibroids in women:
- Symptoms: The most common symptoms of uterine fibroids include heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged periods, pelvic pain, pressure or bloating in the lower abdomen, frequent urination, and constipation. However, many women with fibroids do not experience any symptoms at all.
- Diagnosis: If you suspect you have uterine fibroids, your doctor will perform a pelvic exam and may order an ultrasound, MRI, or other imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis.
- Treatment options: Treatment for uterine fibroids depends on the size and location of the fibroids, as well as the severity of symptoms. Treatment options may include:
- Watchful waiting: If your fibroids are small and not causing any symptoms, your doctor may recommend monitoring them for changes over time.
- Medications: Hormonal birth control pills, IUDs, and other medications can help manage symptoms such as heavy bleeding and pelvic pain.
- Surgery: Depending on the size and location of your fibroids, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove them. This may include a myomectomy (removing just the fibroids) or a hysterectomy (removing the uterus).
- Lifestyle changes: In addition to medical treatment, there are some lifestyle changes that may help manage uterine fibroids. These include maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, and reducing stress.
- Risks: While uterine fibroids are noncancerous, they can cause complications such as infertility, miscarriage, and preterm labor. In rare cases, fibroids can also become cancerous.
If you suspect you have uterine fibroids or are experiencing any symptoms, it is important to talk to your doctor. With the right diagnosis and treatment, most women with fibroids can manage their symptoms and maintain their overall health and wellbeing.