Know the basics
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are abnormal growths that develop in or on a woman’s uterus. Uterine fibroids are not associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.
Sometimes, these tumors become quite large and cause severe abdominal pain with heavy periods. In other cases, they cause no signs or symptoms at all.
It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of fibroids?
Uterine fibroid symptoms can develop slowly over several years or rapidly over several months. The most common symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding;
- Menstrual periods lasting more than a week;
- Pelvic pressure or pain;
- Frequent urination;
- Difficulty emptying the bladder;
- A backache or leg pains.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
Besides, uterine fibroids can cause discomfort and may lead to complications such as anemia from heavy blood loss. Fibroids may also raise the risk of certain pregnancy complications, such as placental abruption, fetal growth restriction, and preterm delivery.
When should I see my doctor?
See your doctor if you have:
- Pelvic pain that does not go away;
- Overly heavy, prolonged or painful periods;
- Spotting or bleeding between periods;
- Difficulty emptying your bladder.
Know the causes
What are the causes of fibroids?
The exact cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, but researchers and clinical experiences point to these factors:
Many fibroids contain changes in genes that differ from those in normal uterine muscle cells.
Estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that stimulate the development of the uterine lining during each menstrual cycle in preparation for pregnancy, appear to promote the growth of fibroids. Fibroids contain more estrogen and progesterone receptors than normal uterine muscle cells do. Fibroids tend to shrink after menopause due to a decrease in hormone production.
Other growth factors
Substances that help the body maintain tissues, such as insulin-like growth factor, may affect fibroid growth.
Know the risk factors
Who is at risk of fibroids?
Women are at greater risk for developing fibroids if they have one or more of the following risk factors:
- A family history of fibroids;
- Being over the age of 30;
- Being overweight.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How are fibroids diagnosed?
If you have symptoms of uterine fibroids, you doctor may order these tests:
- Lab tests.
If traditional ultrasound does not provide enough information, your doctor may order other imaging studies, such as:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI);
How are fibroids treated?
There’s no single best approach to uterine fibroid treatment. You should talk with your doctor about your symptoms and treatment options.
Watchful waiting for minimal fibroid symptoms or when nearing menopause
If you have uterine fibroids but you have few or no symptoms, you do not need treatment. Instead, your doctor will recommend watchful waiting which means that you will have regular pelvic exams to check on fibroid growth and symptoms. Talk with your doctor about how often you will need a checkup.
For heavy menstrual bleeding or pain
If you have pain or heavy menstrual bleeding, it may be from a bleeding uterine fibroid. But it may also be linked to a simple menstrual cycle problem or other problems. The following medicines are used to relieve heavy menstrual bleeding, anemia, or painful periods, but they do not shrink fibroids:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) therapy improves menstrual cramping and reduces bleeding for many women. But there is no evidence that NSAIDs relieve pain or bleeding specifically caused by fibroids.
- Birth control hormones (pill, patch, or ring) lighten menstrual bleeding and pain while preventing pregnancy.
- An intrauterine device (IUD) that releases small amounts of the hormone progesterone into the uterus may reduce heavy menstrual bleeding.
- A progestin shot (Depo-Provera) every 3 months may lighten your bleeding. It also prevents pregnancy. Based on different studies, progestin may shrink fibroids or may make them grow. This might be different for each woman.
- Iron supplements, available without a prescription, are an important part of correcting anemia caused by fibroid blood loss.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage fibroids?
There is the unknown treatment that prevents uterine fibroids. But, according to one study, the more exercise women have, the less likely they are to get uterine fibroids.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: October 1, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Uterine Fibroids Health Center. http://www.webmd.com/women/uterine-fibroids/. Accessed September 4th, 2016.
Uterine fibroids. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/home/ovc-20212509. Accessed September 4th, 2016.
Fibroids. http://www.healthline.com/health/uterine-fibroids#Overview1. Accessed September 4th, 2016.