Uterine fibroid tumors, also called leiomyomas or myomas, are benign growths of the uterus that affect women in childbearing age. Uterine fibroids can range in size from very small ones that are similar to an apple seed to really large ones that can reach the size of a golf ball. While some women have only one fibroid, having two, three or even more of these benign tumors is not rare either. Uterine fibroids are also very common, affecting almost half of women before menopause. Here are some more things that you should know about the condition.
How Are Uterine Fibroids Diagnosed
In the majority of cases, uterine fibroids do not cause any symptoms and they are usually diagnosed during routine gynecological or pelvic exams. However, in some cases uterine fibroids do cause symptoms, such as very heavy and painful menstrual periods, pelvic pressure, frequent urination or pain in the lower back or in the legs, the symptoms being the cause for the visit to the gynecologist.
How Are Uterine Fibroids Treated
For the fibroids that do not cause any symptoms the recommended treatment is watchful waiting, which means that the patient should attend regular check-ups to see whether the fibroid has changed in size or whether new fibroids have appeared, but no other, active measure is required for the time being. For symptomatic fibroids, there are a variety of treatment options. Here are some:
- Medication – one of the treatment options for uterine fibroids is the administration of medication that stops the hormone supply needed by the tumors. These medicines induce a temporary menopause that lasts only for the duration of the treatment, usually three months, during which the tumors no longer get any of the hormones that they need and therefore they start to shrink. According to uterine fibroid treatment Kansas City Missouri specialists, the solution might bring permanent benefits for the patient, but in many cases, the effects are only temporary and the fibroids will soon start growing back and causing symptoms again;
- Intrauterine devices – another solution that is known to effectively reduce the size as well as the number of fibroids is the installation of an intrauterine anti conceptive device that also acts by reducing the hormone supply of the tumors;
- embolization – this modern treatment is performed by interventional radiologists and it involves the installation of a catheter through which microscopic particles are introduced into the artery that supplies the uterus with blood. The tiny particles stop the blood supply to the fibroids, causing the tumors to shrink and to die. In terms of durability, the results are similar to the results of the medical treatment option – the fibroids usually start growing back again after a while;
- hysterectomy – the removal of the uterus is the most radical, but also the most efficient treatment option for uterine fibroids. Hysterectomy can be performed either using traditional methods or with the help of laparoscopy, removing the uterus either through the abdomen or via the vagina. The method guarantees that fibroids will not come back again.