Studies have shown that up to 70% of women will experience fibroids in their lifetime. Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop inside the uterus. The tumors can occur alone or in a group, varying in size from microscopic to the size of a cantaloupe. Although many women of reproductive age have fibroids, most do not experience symptoms and subsequently never seek a diagnosis. Other women have severe symptoms and seek treatment for relief.
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of fibroid disease will vary depending on the location, size, and number of the tumors present. Symptoms may include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Long menstrual periods
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Back or leg pain
- Frequent urination or incontinence
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Reproductive difficulties
How are Fibroids Diagnosed?
A gynecologist can often feel fibroids during a routine physical exam. If your physician suspects that you may have fibroids, the diagnosis can be confirmed with imaging:
Although fibroids do not pose a health threat, the symptoms caused by the presence of fibroid tumors can be debilitating. Fibroid treatment options in the outpatient setting include:
- Observation -- fibroids typically shrink at menopause and some women near the age of menopause will opt to observe symptoms
- Medication --over-the-counter and prescription medications for pain relief
- Hormone Therapy -- hormone therapy, such as birth control can help to reduce the size of fibroids
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) --minimally-invasive procedure where the blood flow to the fibroids are blocked