Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow in the uterus. The medical term for fibroids is leiomyomas, sometimes shortened to myomas. These benign tumors occur in approximately 1 in 3 women, usually during the reproductive years. Most of the time, they do not cause any problems. However, depending on the size, number and location of the fibroids, they may cause symptoms such as heavy or irregular bleeding, pain, infertility, pressure and/or urinary or bowel complaints.
Fibroids may be diagnosed on pelvic exam and/or pelvic ultrasound. Sometimes a MRI is used to further delineate the size, location and number of fibroids. Fibroids causing symptoms or problems can be treated. The treatment depends on the size, location, and number of fibroids, symptoms, and patient's desire for future fertility. Treatment options may include medications, which do not get rid of the fibroids, but may control the symptoms, versus procedures that destroy of shrink the fibroids (uterine artery embolization or focused ultrasound ablation), versus surgical management to remove the fibroid(s) (myomectomy or hysterectomy).
Surgery options to remove uterine fibroids include hysterectomy, which removes the entire uterus, and myomectomy, which removes the fibroids but leaves the uterus. Usually, if patients have completed their childbearing, a hysterectomy is recommended as this decreases the chance of reoccurrence. This can be done minimally invasive (through small incisions) in most cases. Most patients are amazed at how quickly they recover and thrilled with the results.
Myomectomy is usually done in patients that want to maintain the option for future fertility. With the aid of the da Vinci surgical system, this is also a minimally invasive surgery.
If you have fibroids that are causing problems, talk to your doctor about treatment options. More information can be found at:
More information is available at the following sites:
WomensHealth.gov - Uterine Fibroids