Mayo Clinic q and A: what Are Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids , also called leiomyomas or myomas, are benign masses that come from the muscle portion of the uterus.

Fibroids are quite common. Fibroids are common in people who were born with fibroids. However, not all will experience symptoms. The most common age at which fibroids can be diagnosed is between 20 and 40.

Although fibroids are not known to be caused by estrogen or progesterone, it is possible that they can grow. Researchers are investigating other factors that could be contributing to fibroids, including family history and early menstruation. African-Americans have higher fibroids risk, as they can be more severe and occur earlier in life.

Fibroids are responsible for the following main symptoms:

You may experience heavy or prolonged periods. This could include bleeding more than 7 days, changing your tampon every hour or stopping you from going to work. Fibroids can be a source of pain, although they most commonly cause discomfort during periods. However, larger fibroids may cause constant feelings of fullness or pressure, similar to pregnancy. You may notice a bulge or feeling full.

Some women may experience reproductive difficulties, such as miscarriage or difficulty getting pregnant.

Due to the possibility that heavy menstrual periods and excessive bleeding could be signs of a variety of conditions, I recommend that anyone experiencing painful periods or excess bleeding see their gynecologist.

Sometimes fibroids can be detected on a physical examination. An ultrasound can be ordered if there are fibroids.

Fibroids can be treated with both medical and surgical options. The treatment is tailored to the individual patient based on their symptoms and the location and size of the fibroids.

Many medications are designed to decrease the bleeding that is common with people who have fibroids. Period bleeding can be controlled by hormones. This includes both hormonal and nonhormonal birth control. These medications may be helpful in shrinking fibroids but they are not intended to be used long-term.

There are many surgical options available. The following surgical treatments are available:

Hysterectomy

The uterus can be removed by a hysterectomy. The hysterectomy is an option that removes the uterus as well as the fibroids. This procedure can be done for those who have concerns about their fibroids coming back and are not interested in having children. A hysterectomy will result in no more menstrual bleeding, however, a woman will not be able carry another pregnancy. Menopause is not caused by a hysterectomy. Laparoscopically this procedure can be done with incisions that are no larger than one centimeter or as small as your fingertip.

Myomectomy

Myomectomy is surgery to eliminate symptom-causing fibroids via the vaginal or small laparoscopic incisions. Uterine fibroids embolization (also known as uterine-artery embolization) is a surgical procedure that reduces blood supply to fibroids. They shrink over several weeks, or even months. This procedure is generally not advised for pregnant women.

Radiofrequency Fibroid Ablation

Radiofrequency fibroid treatment is an ablation technique which uses heat to destroy the tissue. This is a relatively new technique and few doctors are familiar with it. You may have to request a referral from your doctor to see a specialist in fibroid treatment.

Magnificent resonance-guided focused ultrasound

In an MRI machine, magnetic resonance-guided focus ultrasound can be performed. To destroy the fibroid, this treatment sends energy through the abdominal walls. Unfortunately, this treatment is not available in all specialty centers such as Mayo Clinic and may not be covered under insurance.

Endometrial ablation

The procedure of endometrial ablation involves removing the lining from the uterus with a catheter inserted through your vagina. Although it does not reduce fibroids' size, this treatment can help decrease fibroids' heavy periods.

You have options for treatment if you're diagnosed with fibroids.