Uterine Fibroids

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.

Common Symptoms

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Abdomen or lower back pain

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Constipation

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Longer or more frequent menstrual periods

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Rectal pain

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Enlarged uterus and abdomen

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Anemia

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Difficult or frequent urination

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Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Risk Factors

Hormones

Fibroids grow more during pregnancy but shrink with anti-hormone medication

Genetics

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

Race

African American women are 2-3x more likely to develop fibroids

Weight

Fibroid growth is triggered by estrogen, which can typically be overproduced by excess fat.

Age

More common for women in their 30’s and 40’s, but fibroids typically shrink after menopause

Diet

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.

Treatment Options

Hysteroscopy

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

Myomectomy

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

Home Remedies

Keeping a Diary

Detailing your menstrual cycle (pain, bleeding, duration, etc.) to give your healthcare provider any information they may need.

Pain Relief

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 Tea

Drink herbal tea, as many herbs have various beneficial properties such as balancing hormones, detoxing the body, strengthening the liver, and more.

Healthy Diet

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.

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy with essential oils like ginger, rose, and marjoram can help relax the muscles and reduce cramps.

Manage Stress

Stress can worsen your symptoms by increasing blood pressure and can negatively interfere with your hormones.

Exercise

Exercise can help ease your symptoms by reducing stress, relieving muscle tension, and promoting healthy blood circulation

Insurance Coverage

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.