Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors of the uterus and the most common GYN problem for women. By the age of 50, about 80% of Black women will be diagnosed with fibroids. So chances are good that either you, a relative or friend will be treated for fibroids in your lifetime.
Fibroids can range from the size of a pea to the size of a football, and fibroid size and location determine if you will have symptoms that require treatment. Common fibroid symptoms include heavy or irregular menstrual cycles, pelvic pain, painful intercourse or pressure on the bladder or intestines, which can lead to frequent urination or constipation.
Uterine fibroids can also cause infertility by blocking sperm entry into the uterus or tube or by making the uterus an unfavorable place for a baby to develop. If fibroids are very large, they can be detected on a routine pelvic exam. Ultrasound is an outpatient diagnostic procedure which can identify fibroids of various sizes.
When To Seek Treatment
Being diagnosed with fibroids alone is not a reason for treatment; however women with symptoms or infertility related to their fibroids should consider having their fibroids removed or reduced. The currently available therapies for fibroids are surgery and uterine artery embolization (UAE).
The most definitive treatment for fibroids is hysterectomy, which involves surgical removal of the entire uterus and all fibroids contained within. Once a hysterectomy is performed, a woman can no longer carry a pregnancy. Myomectomy is an alternative surgical procedure, where fibroids are removed while leaving the uterus in place.