Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors of the uterus. Uterine fibroids are also known as leiomyomata or myomas. Uterine fibroids grow within the muscles of the uterus, on the outside of the uterus, hang in the uterine cavity or very rarely form within the cervix. They can range in size from microscopic to several inches in diameter. Uterine fibroids form in the childbearing years of a woman’s life. There may be just one fibroid or many, with differing locations. Uterine fibroids are not usually a cause for concern, but when they become too large, cause heavy bleeding, or there are many present, they may become a problem.
Cause of Uterine Fibroids
Though a large percentage of women suffer from uterine fibroids, doctors are actually unsure of what causes them to occur. What we do know, however, is that hormones contribute to the growth of the fibroids.
Estrogen and progesterone are at their highest levels during a woman’s childbearing years, this is why uterine fibroids are thought to develop during this time. Normally, after a woman goes through menopause her body produces lower levels of estrogen and progesterone causing the fibroids to begin to shrink and any associated symptoms, such as pain and pressure to subside.
In many cases, the effects of uterine fibroids are so minor that often these women use a general over-the-counter pain medicine to treat any cramping or pain associated with the fibroid tumors. Since the tumors can also cause excessive menstrual bleeding, which can lead to anemia, an iron supplement is recommended if excessive bleeding is occurring. Bleeding may also be controlled with hormonal therapy. Discuss with your doctor to see if you qualify for medical treatments.
There are four ways in which doctors aim to treat uterine fibroids:
A myomectomy can help to remove the existing tumors that you have, but it will not prevent the tumors from growing back. However, this method of uterine fibroid removal is generally reserved for women that are still wanting to get pregnant in the future.
This surgical procedure removes the uterus completely. With a hysterectomy, you can guarantee that the tumors will not grow back. You will no longer be able to get pregnant after a hysterectomy.
There are some procedures performed by a radiologist to treat fibroids. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate.