If you’ve been told that you have fibroids, you’re not alone. These muscular tumors in the wall of the uterus, which are almost always benign (noncancerous), are common in women of childbearing age.
Over the course of a woman’s lifetime, 70 percent of white women and 90 percent of African American women may develop fibroids. After menopause, these hormonally sensitive tumors usually shrink.
“Having fibroids doesn’t necessarily require either medical or surgical treatment. It is only when those fibroids cause unwanted symptoms that treatment is indicated,” says Jordan Klebanoff, MD, minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon at Lankenau Medical Center, part of Main Line Health. “Many women with fibroids never experience any problems. However, even the smallest fibroids can be associated with undesirable symptoms or sometimes infertility in certain cases.”
Some women develop symptoms such as:
- Heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding
- Painful cramping during menstrual cycles
- Feeling of fullness in the lower belly
- Pain during sex
- Low back pain
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Problems during labor and delivery
What are my treatment options?
If your fibroids are causing problems, several types of treatment are available. Your doctor may prescribe medication, like the following:
- Pain relievers (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen) to ease mild pain
- Nonhormonal medications to reduce bleeding
- Hormonal birth control (such as certain birth control pills or the Mirena IUD) to reduce heavy bleeding during periods
- Iron supplements to prevent anemia caused by heavy periods
Some cases require gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists/antagonists (such as Lupron or Orilissa) to treat anemia or shrink fibroids prior to surgery.
Sometimes fibroid-related symptoms require surgery. Your doctor may recommend a procedure such as:
- Myomectomy to remove fibroids while leaving the rest of the uterus intact—a good choice for women who want to become pregnant later
- Hysterectomy to remove the entire uterus and fibroids
- Endometrial ablation to destroy the lining of the uterus, which reduces heavy bleeding during periods
- Uterine fibroid embolization to block the blood supply to fibroids, which causes them to shrink
Your doctor can help you make an informed decision about your treatment depending on these and other factors. Learn more about Dr. Klebanoff and our other minimally invasive gynecologic surgeons at Main Line Health, and schedule an appointment. Call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.