What Are Uterine Fibroids?
A uterine fibroid is a non-cancerous tumor or cyst that initiates inside the uterus. They are typically found in women in their 30s and 40s, dwindling after menopause happens. In the United States, almost 50% of women suffer from uterine fibroids.
The cause of fibroids is currently unknown, though certain factors have been found to correlate with their occurrence, such as obesity, menstruation before the age of 11, and being African American. It is suspected that the causes are a mixture of hormonal and genetic.
Signs and Symptoms of Fibroids:
The most common reported symptoms of fibroid cysts are listed below in no particular order.
- Heavy bleeding and/ or painful menstruation Lower stomach area feeling full or appearing bloated
- Frequent need to urinate
- Uncomfortable or painful intercourse
- Lower back pain
The most common diagnosis methods are via pelvic exam (the doctor can feel them with his or her fingers) or by ultrasound. There are other methods involving x-rays, CT scans, and MRI’s, but those are less common and generally employed if the first two don’t work.
The method your doctor chooses for fibroid tumor treatment depends on a few factors, such as your symptoms (many women don’t have any at all), proximity to menopause, and the size, location, and number of fibroids in the uterus. Also taken into account are family planning and the patient’s general health.
Fibroid tumor treatments include:
- Uterine fibroids surgery to remove the tumors
- Surgical removal of uterus (hysterectomy)
- Cutting off blood supply to fibroids (Uterine Fibroid Embolization, UFE)
- Medicines that shrink fibroids
- MR guided focused ultrasound, also known as radiofrequency ablation (focused heat up to 185 degrees that kills the tumor, an outpatient treatment)
This is by no means an exhaustive list as new fibroid tumor treatment techniques are on the cutting edge of medical technology. We’d love to hear your feedback or experiences with fibroid treatments in the comments!