Uterine Fibroids, which are abnormal growths in a woman’s uterus, affect 70 to 80 percent* of women in their lifetime. These tumors can cause severe abdominal pain and heavy periods.
Factors That Can Increase your Chance of Getting Fibroids
There are many factors that increase a woman’s risk of developing fibroids, including:
- Genetics. A family history of uterine fibroids increases your chance of getting fibroids.
- Age. Women ages 30 and up are more prone to developing fibroids. After menopause, fibroids usually shrink on their own.
- Hormonal Imbalance.– An abnormal amount of estrogen and progesterone might cause the growth of fibroids. During pregnancy, women produce more estrogen and progesterone, making pregnancy another cause of uterine fibroids.
- Diet. A diet that is high in red meat and ham has been proven to increase your chance of getting uterine fibroids. However, eating a lot of green vegetables can decrease your chance of developing fibroids.
Uterine Fibroids Symptoms
Most fibroids don’t cause any symptoms, so it’s hard for most women to tell whether they have fibroids. When symptoms do present themselves, they often include heavy bleeding, frequent urination, painful intercourse, lower back pain and a feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen. If you experience these symptoms, your doctor may perform an ultrasound, MRI or X-ray to properly diagnose the condition.
Treating Uterine Fibroids
For women who do develop fibroids, your doctor might recommend the following treatment options:
- Medications. Low-dose birth controls can help stop fibroids from growing. They can also control heavy bleeding. If pain is the only symptom, over-the- counter pain medicine will help.
- Surgery. If your fibroids cause moderate to severe symptoms, surgery might be the most effective form of treatment. Different procedures for uterine fibroids include:
- Myomectomy – surgery to remove uterine fibroids without taking out healthy tissue
- Hysterectomy – surgical removal of the uterus
- Endometrial Ablation – doctors remove the lining of the uterus to control heavy bleeding caused by fibroids
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) – UFE is a minimally invasive procedure that blocks blood flow to the uterus. It is a treatment for fibroids for women who are not planning a pregnancy in the future.
Contact Brigham-Faulkner Ob/Gyn Associates for information on uterine fibroids.