Uterine Fibroids

FibroidWhat are they?

Fibroids are benign or non-cancerous growths of tissue in the muscular layer of the uterus.  Uterine fibroids are considered benign tumors and are not associated with cancer.  Fibroids can also be referred to as leiomyomas or myomas.

How common are fibroids?

About 60 – 75% of women have uterine fibroids and often are completely unaware that they even are present.  They most often appear between the ages of 20 to 35.

What causes fibroids?

The exact cause is unknown.  Genetic abnormalities, hormones, growth factors have all been suspected as playing a role in uterine fibroids.  Risk factors for developing uterine fibroids include family members with fibroids, obesity, and race (ie. African-American, Hispanic).

What are the symptoms?

Frequently, women with fibroids of the uterus are completely asymptomatic.  However, as fibroids persist or increase in size symptoms can include: heavy/painful menstrual periods, abdominal or pelvic pain, increased urinary frequency, painful intercourse and even infertility.

How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?

Diagnosis can be made by consulting your doctor.  A physician often suspects uterine fibroids by taking a detailed history and performing a physical exam.  Confirmation of diagnosis can include ultrasound, hysteroscopy, hysterosalpingogram (HSG), CT scan, or MRI.

Do fibroids cause infertility?

Uterine fibroids can cause infertility depending on their location and size.  Fibroid(s) are distorting the uterine cavity or endometrium may result in infertility.

How are they treated?

Treatment of uterine fibroids is dependant on the symptoms of the patient.  For some patients with no symptoms, fibroids can be monitored closely with no intervention needed.  For others with symptoms of heavy menstrual periods or infertility treatments can vary significantly.  Consult with your physician to discuss treatment options such as: birth control pills, other medications (ie. Depot-Lupron, Mirena IUD), surgery, focused ultrasound ablation, and uterine artery embolization (UAE).  In terms of surgical interventions options include hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or myomectomy (removal of the fibroids only).  Abdominal, laparoscopic, robotic and hysteroscopic surgery are all possible options that specific to each individual patient.