Fibroids Q & A
What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths in your uterus. Many women develop them but don’t even know because the fibroids cause no symptoms. You may have just one or multiple fibroids and they can be tiny or large, like a grapefruit.
What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
Fibroids often don’t cause symptoms, but can if they become large or numerous. Signs that you have a fibroid or fibroids may include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Serious menstrual cramping
- Pressure on the bladder causing frequent urination
- Rectal pressure
- Enlarged abdomen
- Feelings of fullness in the lower stomach area
- Pain during intercourse
- Lower back pain
In rare cases, fibroids can interfere with fertility or cause problems during pregnancy and labor.
How are fibroids discovered?
A uterine fibroid may be detected during a regular pelvic exam. If you present with symptoms, Dr. Hagberg may recommend you undergo an ultrasound to produce an image of inside your uterus and see any fibroids. An MRI or special X-ray using dye may also be used to detect fibroids.
How are fibroids treated?
If your fibroids aren’t causing any symptoms, Dr. Hagberg may advise just watching them through periodic ultrasounds to make sure they don’t grow too large or start to cause symptoms.
Over-the-counter pain medications can relieve mild pain associated with fibroids and an iron supplement can prevent anemia if they’re causing heavy bleeding. Low-dose birth control pills may be prescribed to control heavy bleeding associated with fibroids. Dr. Hagberg may also recommend gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists that can shrink your fibroids by putting you into temporary menopause.
If you have fibroids that are quite large or that cause severe symptoms, surgery may be required. Talk to Dr. Hagberg about your options, which include a myomectomy, or pinpoint surgery to remove only the fibroid, or a hysterectomy, or removal of the entire uterus. Some women are a candidate for endometrial ablation, which involves destroying the lining of the uterus.