What you need to know about uterine fibroids
If you have uterine fibroids, you aren’t alone. Many women will have them at some point in their life. One of the best ways to deal with fibroids is to understand the problem.
Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that develop in the uterine wall, in the uterine cavity or outside of the uterus. While fibroids vary in size, they are generally non-cancerous. Some women who have fibroids never experience symptoms, but others may have extreme pain and other problems. Our Austin obgyns have the expertise to accurately diagnose and treat uterine fibroids.
What factors increase a woman’s risk of developing uterine fibroids?
Any woman can develop uterine fibroids, but certain factors increase her risk.
- Fibroids are more common as women age, especially for women in their 30’s and 40’s.
- African American women are more at risk for fibroids than white women.
- Having a first-degree relative such as a mother or sister with fibroids increases the risk of developing the problem.
- Women who are overweight are two to three times more likely to develop fibroids.
What are the symptoms?
Uterine fibroids don’t always cause symptoms. However, when symptoms occur, they vary from mild to severe.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Painful periods
- Irregular bleeding
- Lower back pain
- Pain and/or a full feeling in the lower abdomen
- Urinary problems – frequent or difficulty urinating
- Difficulty having a bowel movement, rectal pain or constipation
- Enlarged lower abdomen
Uterine fibroids can also cause miscarriages and fertility issues.
Diagnosing and treating uterine fibroids
If uterine fibroids don’t cause any symptoms, a woman might not know she has them until our Austin obgyns notice them during a wellness exam. If the fibroids aren’t causing any problems, no treatment is needed. However, if a woman comes to our obgyns with symptoms, it’s time to begin the diagnostic and treatment process.
The first step is a pelvic examination. Often, our Austin obgyns will follow up with one or more tests, including ultrasonography, hysteroscopy, hysterosalpingography, sonohysterography or laparoscopy.
Treatment varies depending on a woman’s symptoms. Mild symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Moderate symptoms may respond to the hormones in low-dose birth control pills, birth control injections or the Mirena® IUD. Some moderate symptoms may also respond to gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) like Lupron®.
Women with moderate or severe symptoms may require surgery. Our Austin obgyns perform minimally invasive surgery to treat problems caused by uterine fibroids. Some surgical options include endometrial ablation, MRI-guided ultrasound surgery, uterine artery embolization or hysteroscopy.
Our Austin obgyns and staff provide women who have uterine fibroids with care and support. For an appointment, contact us.
Our Gynecology Services
- Abnormal Pap Treatments
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