Uterine fibroids are small tumors that grow on the uterus. They're common, and they tend to run in families. While they're almost never cancerous and don't present a danger to your health, they can cause a number of annoying symptoms when they grow large. They often cause abdominal pain and irregular bleeding between periods. Thankfully, they can usually be shrunk or removed if they're causing debilitating symptoms. Below, you'll find more information about the symptoms that uterine fibroids can cause along with the methods available for treating them.
What Are the Signs That You May Have Uterine Fibroids?
When a uterine fibroid grows too large, it will start pushing on organs that are close to the uterus. The pressure can cause abdominal pain, and the pain can be severe if the fibroid is pressing into a nerve. A uterine fibroid that presses against your bladder can cause you to need to go to the bathroom frequently, and it can also cause urinary incontinence.
Uterine fibroids can also cause you to have extremely heavy periods along with spotting between your periods. Excess bleeding can increase your risk of developing anemia, which will cause you to feel fatigued.
Finally, one of the most serious symptoms of uterine fibroids is severe abdominal pain that comes on quickly. Uterine fibroids can burst when they grow too large, and a sudden severe pain may mean that one of your fibroids has ruptured. If you think that one of your fibroids has ruptured, you need to seek medical attention immediately, since the bleeding from the ruptured uterine fibroid will need to be stopped.
How Can a Doctor Treat Uterine Fibroids?
Small uterine fibroids often don't cause symptoms, and they don't need to be treated right away. A uterine fibroid may grow larger over time, however, and eventually start causing symptoms. When a uterine fibroid is causing abdominal pain or irregular bleeding, you have the option of either shrinking it or removing it.
A doctor can perform uterine artery embolization on the fibroid in order to shrink it. During this procedure, your doctor will insert a tiny catheter into the arteries that are providing the uterine fibroid with its blood supply. Your doctor will send sand-like particles through the catheter that will attach to the walls of the artery, which will clot it off and reduce the amount of blood flowing to the fibroid. When its blood supply is reduced, the fibroid will begin to shrink.
You can remove fibroids with a procedure called a myomectomy. During this procedure, a surgeon will make an incision into your pelvis and carefully remove all of the fibroids that are present. While this procedure is more invasive than uterine artery embolization, it can be used to remove fibroids that are fed by blood vessels that can't be easily reached with a catheter.
If you think that you may have uterine fibroids, schedule an appointment with an ob-gyn and discuss your symptoms. An ob-gyn can use an ultrasound machine to examine your uterus, looking for any abnormal growths that may be uterine fibroids. If any are found, you'll be able to discuss whether shrinking the fibroids or removing them surgically is the best option to relieve your uterine fibroid symptoms.
Talk to your ob-gyn to learn more.