Uterine fibroids are benign (not cancerous) muscular tumors that grow inside the uterus. They may also be called leiomyomas or myoma. Someone may have one fibroid or they may have many, and they can develop into varying sizes.
Types of Uterine Fibroids
Fibroids are classified into groups based on where they grow in the female’s reproductive organs. The location of the fibroid is particularly important in providing accurate diagnoses of symptoms and deciding on treatment options.
Abdomen or lower back pain
Longer or more frequent menstrual periods
Enlarged uterus and abdomen
Difficult or frequent urination
Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Fibroids grow more during pregnancy but shrink with anti-hormone medication
You are at higher risk if a family member has fibroids, and at a 2-3x higher risk if your mother or sister had fibroids
African American women are 2-3x more likely to develop fibroids
Fibroid growth is triggered by estrogen, which can typically be overproduced by excess fat.
More common for women in their 30’s and 40’s, but fibroids typically shrink after menopause
Eating red meat and ham are linked with having a higher risk of getting fibroids, and green vegetables lower the risk
You’re Not Alone
Uterine fibroids develop in 50% of all women and are the leading cause of hysterectomies (uterus removal).
Treatment is usually not necessary, especially if the woman doesn’t have symptoms or has gone through menopause. Bleeding can be controlled by certain medications, although they may not prevent the growth of fibroids.
A minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows the doctor to view the inside of your uterus
Birth control or other hormonal pills
Hormonal balance can help with heavy bleeding.
Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
A surgical procedure where the cervix is opened and a curette (surgical instrument) is used to remove uterine tissue
A surgical procedure that removes the uterine fibroids
MRI Guided Ultrasound
The ultrasound beam is guided by an MRI and used to heat and remove areas of the fibroid tissue
Uterine artery embolization (UAE)
A minimally invasive treatment that blocks the blood supply to the uterus, preventing the fibroids to develop and relieving the symptoms
Progestin–releasing intrauterine device (IUD)
This can relieve symptoms like heavy bleeding and pain due to fibroids that are in the uterine walls, but will not remove the fibroids
Keeping a Diary
Detailing your menstrual cycle (pain, bleeding, duration, etc.) to give your healthcare provider any information they may need.
Over-the counter medications like ibuprofin or aspirin can help relieve pain.
Heat & Relax
Use a heating pad or take a hot bath, as heat can relieve pain by relaxing the muscles.
Drink herbal tea, as many herbs have various beneficial properties such as balancing hormones, detoxing the body, strengthening the liver, and more.
A healthy diet involving foods such as brown rice, fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts are recommended as they are low in fat and high in fiber.
Aromatherapy with essential oils like ginger, rose, and marjoram can help relax the muscles and reduce cramps.
Stress can worsen your symptoms by increasing blood pressure and can negatively interfere with your hormones.
Exercise can help ease your symptoms by reducing stress, relieving muscle tension, and promoting healthy blood circulation
A pelvic exam is usually covered by health insurances that cover routine care or if its needed due to pain or other symptoms that would suggest a serious condition. Typically, the only out-of-pocket expense would be the copay for the doctor visit, as well as a copay for any lab work done.
Insurance plans like Medicare typically cover medical procedures like hysterectomies if they are deemed necessary and not done electively.