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Uterine Fibroids

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in or on the uterus. Fibroids are usually benign but cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms ranging from abnormal bleeding to infertility. Fibroids range in size from as small as a pea or expand to the size of a grapefruit, and in rare cases even larger. Fibroids can grow on the uterine walls or inside the uterine wall tissue.

What Symptoms Are Associated With Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms that often interfere with a woman’s day to day activities. Heavy painful periods, defined by the need to change a tampon or sanitary towel on an hourly basis for more than a couple of consecutive hours, are the most common symptom associated with uterine fibroids. The heavy bleeding caused by fibroids is often accompanied by severe cramping that prevents the patient from participating in normal daily activities. Other symptoms associated with fibroids include swelling of the abdomen, pressure in the stomach area, and frequent urination. In some cases, uterine fibroids can lead to fertility problems such as high-risk pregnancies, increased chances of needing a cesarean delivery, as well as difficulties conceiving naturally.

How Are Fibroids Treated?

The doctors at Legacy OB/GYN provide a variety of treatment options for fibroids. Myomectomies are surgical procedures to remove the fibroids from the uterus, which are performed in a traditional open surgery or with a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure. During a myomectomy, the doctor accesses the uterus and removes the fibroids. Ablation therapy is another minimally invasive procedure, which heats and burns out the fibroids. These minimally invasive treatments are all relatively quick outpatient procedures that allow the patient to return home on the same day. Historically, a hysterectomy was used to treat and prevent fibroid by removing the entire uterus. While this procedure is effective at removing and preventing fibroids, it also ends the patient’s ability to bear children. While many other treatment options have proven to be just as effective, hysterectomies are only used in very severe cases.