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Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors inside the uterus.

Developing fibroids

  • It is not known what causes fibroids, but pregnancy and oral contraceptives seem to lower your risk of developing fibroids.
  • If you are under 20 or post-menopausal, your chance of getting fibroids is very small.
  • They are up to three more times more likely to develop in African-American women than in Caucasians.

Fibroid symptoms

  • A sense of pressure in your lower abdomen
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding and cramping
  • The need to urinate more often
  • Sometimes, there are no symptoms.

Diagnosing fibroids

  • You may first discover that you have fibroids in a regular pelvic exam, which may indicate that you have an enlarged or irregularly shaped uterus.
  • Ultrasound can confirm the diagnosis.
  • To rule out cancer, you may need a dilation & curettage (D&C) or a pelvic laparoscopy.

Treatment

Many factors determine the best treatment for you, including your desire to become pregnant in the future; your age; your symptoms; and your general health. Fibroids do not always need treatment.

  • Oral treatments such as ibuprofen or oral contraceptives may be enough to manage your symptoms.
  • Hormone therapy can shrink the fibroids but may induce symptoms similar to menopause. It is a useful treatment to keep fibroids from growing while you are waiting for surgery, or if you are already pre-menopausal.
  • A hysteroscopy can diagnose and remove many fibroids.
  • Myomectomy is another good option, and can help control bleeding.

Fibroids and pregnancy

  • Fibroids do not generally affect pregnancy, but a tumor can block the fallopian tubes, preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg. Or fibroids may keep an egg from implanting in the uterus.
  • Pregnancy may cause your fibroids to grow faster, but they usually return to their original size after you give birth.
  • If there is not enough room for your baby in your uterus, you may have to deliver early or deliver by cesarean section.
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