Uterine fibroids are smooth muscle tumors that grow within the uterus. They are almost always benign. Their size can vary from very small (like an apple seed) to very large (cantaloupe-size and bigger). Most women will develop uterine fibroids before menopause. As many as 1 in 5 will seek medical attention for symptoms. Since these tumors are sensitive to female hormones, they continue to grow until the onset of menopause.
Uterine fibroids can cause progressively uncomfortable symptoms, which include:
- Heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Diminished energy from anemia
- Severe menstrual cramping
- Pain during intercourse
- Abdominal pain, pressure and fullness
- Enlargement of the waist line
- Frequent and urgent urination
- Urinary incontinence
How are fibroids treated?
Fibroids sometimes stop growing or may even shrink as you near menopause. Depending on the severity of your symptoms “watchful waiting” may be recommended. With this approach we monitor your symptoms carefully to make sure you have no significant changes and the fibroids have stopped growing.
If your fibroids are large or cause a lot of symptoms, you may need treatment. Treatment will depend on your age and if you want to get pregnant in the future
Except for the use of hormonal medications to create a state of menopause, there are no medical treatments currently available for treating fibroids. However, there are several surgical options. Key factors to consider include size, number and location of fibroids, desire for childbearing, the types of associated symptoms and the willingness to undergo another surgical procedure for persistent or recurrent fibroids.
What are the surgical options for fibroids?
This is an option for women who want to have children or do not want a hysterectomy. In a myomectomy we surgically remove the fibroids from the uterus and provide an opportunity for future healthy pregnancies. It is typically are a same-day outpatient surgery using minimally invasive surgical techniques.
Unless an abdominal (traditional) hysterectomy is needed because of the size of the fibroid or suspected cancer, a Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy (TLH) can be the best option. Over 90% of our patients receive a total laparoscopic hysterectomy with a smaller scar, quicker recovery and less pain. The surgery removes the entire uterus and is performed through small “band aid” openings rather than one large incision. Recovery is usually 2 – 3 weeks rather than 6 – 8 weeks with traditional surgery for hysterectomy. As we plan your surgery we will discuss the whether to preserve or remove your ovaries and fallopian tubes.