Fibroids treatment

Fibroids are a very common growth in a female’s uterus. They are noncancerous growths that often appear during the childbearing years; they aren’t associated with any increased risk of cancer nor do they develop into cancer. In fact, uterine fibroids are usually symptomless, so many women don’t know that they have them. They are more often discovered during a routine pelvic exam or through prenatal ultrasound. Treatment isn’t always necessary, but there are methods—medical therapy and other surgical procedures—that can treat the fibroids if a woman is experiencing any discomforting symptoms. Very rarely do they require emergency treatment if any excruciating pain is present. Before we talk about the available treatments, let’s discuss how uterine fibroids develop and any possible symptoms.

Development of Uterine Fibroids
There isn’t a proven cause of uterine fibroids, but there is some speculation that they can be a result of genetic mutations, hormones, or other chemicals that are present in the body. Regardless of the reason, there is a specific way that the fibroids actually develop: a single cell in the myometrium (the layer of smooth muscles cells in the uterus) reproduces repeatedly—more than natural—creating a pale, firm mass. They can be very small, in fact too small to be seen by the human eye, but they can also become bulky masses, ranging in numbers.

Symptoms of Fibroids

Although rare, possible symptoms include: heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged menstrual periods (longer than 7 days), pelvic pain or pressure, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, constipation, backaches, or leg pains. A fibroid that eventually runs out of supplying nutrients will eventually die; when this happens, byproducts of the fibroid will leak into surrounding tissues and cause pain and fever. It is important to see a doctor if pelvic pain doesn’t go away, periods become painful and prolonged, pain with intercourse is experienced, or you have difficulty urinating or passing a bowel movement.

Treatment of Fibroids
When, or if, a fibroid is found, treatment may or may not be necessary. Once they are found, an ultrasound will be done to determine the exact size and location of the fibroids. Usually, treatment isn’t a necessity, at least not right away, but it is a good piece of knowledge to know that they are there so regular ultrasounds can be done to check on the fibroids. If treatment is decided upon, there are a few different options; all of these should be discussed with a doctor before any decisions are made.

Medications. Such medications are specifically targeted at the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle so certain symptoms—heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure—can be alleviated. Possible medications include:

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists. In the body, gonadotropin-releasing hormone is produced to trigger a new menstrual cycle. Through a series of reactions, it causes the ovaries to release estrogen and progesterone. An agonist produces the opposite effect, causing the estrogen and progesterone levels to fall, bringing the menstrual cycle right down with it, and the fibroids shrink.

Progesterone-releasing intrauterine device (IUD). This type of IUD only provides symptoms relief; it can relieve pain caused by fibroids and reduce the amount of bleeding during periods.

Androgens. These are often called the male hormones, although they are present in small amounts in the female body. They can relieve fibroid symptoms.

Other medication options. Oral contraceptives and progesterone can control heavy menstrual bleeding caused by fibroids. However, they do nothing in the way of reducing the size of the fibroid(s).

Hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus and possibly the ovaries. This is a permanent and effective solution to remove fibroids; women cannot have children after having a hysterectomy. If the ovaries are removed, menopause will set in, no matter the age of the women.

Myomectomy. This is another surgical option that only removes the fibroids; the uterus is left intact. However, the fibroids have the chance to recur if this surgery is chosen.

Endometrial Ablation. This type of surgery uses some type of heat, microwave energy, hot water, or electric current to destroy the inside lining of the uterus. It only affects the fibroids that have grown inside the uterus; it also reduces or eliminates menstrual bleeding.

Myolysis. An electric current or laser destroys any fibroids and shrinks the vessels supplying them with nutrients to help reduce the probability of fibroid recurrence.

Uterine Artery Embolization. A substance is injected into the arteries supplying the blood flow to the fibroids to end this flow of nutrients. Without any nutrients, the fibroids will eventually shrink.

Last updated on Aug 5th, 2010 and filed under Women's Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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