222. The Facts about Fibroids

Sometimes lower abdominal pain, heavy menstrual periods, or mid-cycle bleeding signals the presence of fibroid tumors–made mostly of muscle tissue that are found in the uterine wall and sometimes on the cervix. Some women also experience frequent urination, constipation, or abdominal swelling. And for some women, fibroids cause no discomfort at all and are discovered during a routine pelvic exam.

Fibroids are benign–that is, they aren’t cancerous–but they can interfere with conception and pregnancy.

Treatment options for fibroids include:

  1. “Watchful waiting.” Your doctor will “watch” for any changes and may suggest “waiting” for menopause, since fibroids often shrink or disappear after that time. If problems occur during this time, you may decide to treat the fibroids.

  2. Medication. One type, called Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, blocks the production of estrogen by the ovaries. This shrinks fibroids in some cases, but is not a cure.

  3. Surgery. Examples are myomectomy, which removes the fibroids but not the uterus; procedures to destroy the uterine lining, but not the fibroids; a procedure that blocks blood flow to the uterine arteries that nourish the fibroids; and a hysterectomy, which removes the uterus and the fibroids with it.

Chapter 9
  1. Women’s Health Problems