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What Are Fibroids? Do They Need to Be Treated?
Fibroids are benign tumors. Fibrous connective tissue and smooth muscle cells make up these tumors. The tumors develop in the uterus. It may sound scary, but plenty of women just like you might develop fibroids over the years. Most women with fibroids are not symptomatic and require no treatment.
FAQs about fibroids
If a doctor has diagnosed a patient with fibroids, then a good understanding of the facts behind these growths can be reassuring. Doctors are able to answer any questions a patient might have, but here are a few FAQs about fibroids.
What symptoms are there?
Most of the time, patients will experience no symptoms at all. Sometimes, though, fibroids can cause bleeding or pain. Fibroids can make it difficult for a patient to urinate should the growths be large enough to press against the bladder. Other symptoms may include swelling of the abdomen, painful intercourse, pelvic discomfort and increased cramping before and during the menstrual cycle.
How are fibroids diagnosed?
Doctors will usually diagnose fibroids after an abdominal or pelvic exam or from an ultrasound. Fibroids are rarely found with an MRI or CT scan.
What happens to them after menopause?
After menopause occurs, fibroids will shrink in size. Patients may find their symptoms significantly lessening. Larger fibroids can remain symptomatic, especially if a patient undergoes estrogen replacement therapy.
What are the treatments?
Depending on the patient’s circumstances, fibroids can generally be watched and waited out. The decision to treat them depends on how large the fibroid is, where it is located and if the woman is pregnant or wants to become pregnant in the future. For a non-surgical option to treat fibroids, doctors can prescribe hormones and medications for pain relief.
Are there surgical options?
The surgical options for fibroids are hysterectomies and myomectomies. A doctor may recommend a hysterectomy if the fibroids are causing symptoms, have grown rapidly or have reached the size of a grapefruit. If a hysterectomy is performed, the patient will not get pregnant anymore.
Myomectomies are operations doctors perform to remove the fibroid without removing the uterus. The growth may return after a myomectomy and a doctor may recommend another surgery. Patients should always ask the OB-GYN how likely it is that a fibroid will return after the first surgery and whether additional surgeries will be required.
A doctor may also recommend laser surgery. This is usually an outpatient surgery. With laser surgery, the doctor will use a high-intensity light to get rid of any small fibroids. A laparoscopy may be used depending on the location of the fibroid. Additionally, a doctor may put a thin hysteroscope tube with a laser through the patient’s vagina and into the uterus. This tube can have a small scraper to scrape the fibroids off the wall of the uterus.
Consider your options
If you have fibroids, you need to consider all options. If you decide on a surgical option to remove the fibroids, you need to know which surgery will be most effective and have the least amount of risk involved. If you choose to wait out the fibroids, you should speak to your OB-GYN about options for relieving problematic symptoms.
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