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Uterine fibroids: What every woman should know

Main Line Health March 12, 2014 Wellness Articles

The last thing any woman wants to hear during a visit to her gynecologist is the word ‘tumor.’ But fortunately, if it’s uterine fibroids, which affect three out of four women, there is little to be concerned about. Discovered during routine pelvic exams or prenatal ultrasounds, fibroids are common and typically harmless.

“Most fibroids aren’t dangerous, and rarely require any treatment other than regular observation,” says Dr. Gregory C. Bolton, gynecologist at Main Line HealthCare Gynecology at Lankenau Medical Center. “Unless your gynecologist expresses concern, there’s little to be worried about.”

Still, there are lingering questions for women. Below, Dr. Bolton addresses the basics of uterine fibroids, including common concerns and treatment options for cases that are more serious.

Will fibroids affect my pregnancy?

Fibroids can affect women of any age, but they are most common in women between ages 30 and 40—prime childbearing years. This leads to some concern about their effect on pregnancy. Although they don’t usually interfere with conception or pregnancy, they can result in infertility or pregnancy loss.

Do fibroids hurt? Will I feel any pain?

Part of the reason most women are so surprised to find that they have uterine fibroids is because they rarely present any symptoms. Women who do experience symptoms might notice heavy or prolonged bleeding during your period, frequent urination, pelvic pain or pressure, and constipation. If you’re noticing symptoms like these, talk to your gynecologist.

Can fibroids cause cancer?

You have a less than 1 in 1,000 chance that a cancerous fibroid will occur. Most fibroids are benign, and won’t increase your risk of cancer.

Is there treatment available for uterine fibroids?

Only a small percentage of women will require surgical treatment for uterine fibroids, but options for treatment range from non-invasive techniques to surgical ones, like a hysterectomy or abdominal myomectomy. Depending on your age and the size of the fibroids, your gynecologist can determine the best treatment option for you.

Can I prevent uterine fibroids?

As of now, there are no ways to prevent uterine fibroids, but an annual visit to the gynecologist is the best way to detect them.

If you have questions about uterine fibroids, talk to your gynecologist. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.