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Fibroids: How They Affect Your Body and What You Can Do About It

Fibroids can be painful but we have treatment options.

Uterine fibroids are extremely common and often cause no symptoms or issues. They range in size from microscopic to seed-like, to large — like a grapefruit. In almost every case, fibroids are benign and require no treatment.

However, some women experience seriously uncomfortable side effects from fibroids. If you’re among these women, we here at Capital Women’s Care have treatment options for you.

Signs of fibroids

Fibroids can create symptoms that are similar to other gynecological problems, including endometriosis. You could notice heavy bleeding during your period and intense cramping. Bleeding may be so significant that you develop iron deficiency anemia, too.

The pressure of fibroids can make your pelvic area feel full and even enlarge the lower abdominal area. You may have pain during sexual intercourse, lower back pain, and frequent urination as a result of the fibroids.

Fibroids can also sometimes create complications during pregnancy and delivery. Women with fibroids are six times as likely to need a cesarean section than women without fibroids. In very rare cases, fibroids can interfere with your ability to get pregnant.

Fibroids without symptoms

If we detect fibroids during an ultrasound or you have fibroids identified during your pelvic exam, but they’re not bothering you, don’t worry about negative effects. We’ll simply monitor them to ensure they don’t grow larger or multiply. And, if you find you start to experience symptoms due to the fibroids, we’ll explore treatment options with you.

What to do about fibroids

Fibroid treatment for symptomatic masses depends on the size and the location of the fibroids. We’ll also consider whether you might want to get pregnant or if you’re close to menopause.

Your dietary and lifestyle habits can help reduce the instances of fibroid growth. Women who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk of developing fibroids; overweight women are two times as likely to grow the muscular tumors. Do everything you can, including staying physically active, to maintain a normal weight.  

A diet rich in red meat and ham is also associated with a higher risk of fibroids. Switch your diet to include a greater amount of green vegetables as a way to protect yourself from promoting fibroid growth.

You can try over-the-counter medications, like Tylenol® or Advil®, if you have mild pain associated with the fibroids. You may also benefit from an iron supplement if heavy menstrual bleeding is causing anemia.

We can help you understand dosing of iron supplements. It’s not a good idea to take iron on your own — you can take iron in excess and cause complications.

What Capital Women’s Care can do about fibroids

Why fibroids develop in some women and not others is not fully understood. And because it’s not clear what causes them, researchers aren’t entirely sure how to shrink them, either.

Fibroids are connected to your hormones. They grow rapidly when you have high levels of progesterone and estrogen, such as during pregnancy. They also halt their growth, or even shrink, as hormone levels drop in menopause.

In many cases, we can help shrink fibroids with anti-hormone medications. Birth control pills are a good way to control symptoms of fibroids, including heavy bleeding. They don’t shrink fibroids, but they do stall their growth. You may prefer progesterone-like injections (such as Depo-Provera®) or an IUD (such as Mirena®), which both offer birth control and fibroid reduction qualities.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) are another treatment worth considering. These drugs can shrink your fibroids, but put you in a state of temporary menopause so you may replace fibroid symptoms with hot flashes, sleep impairment, decreased sex drive, and depression.

You take GnRHa temporarily, often just before surgery to remove fibroids and shrink them slightly or to help you recover from serious anemia and return to a normal blood count.

If you want to get pregnant or fibroids are exceptionally large, your only recourse may be surgery. A myomectomy is surgery to remove fibroids without any additional tissue. You preserve all of your reproductive organs and the ability to get pregnant.

A hysterectomy is the only way to ensure you won’t grow fibroids in the future and relieve absolutely all symptoms. This surgery removes your uterus and may be the right treatment choice if you have heavy bleeding, very large fibroids, are near or in menopause, or are sure you don’t want to bear children.

Fibroids are common and often are no cause for concern. But if you have fibroids that are bothersome, you have options. Call or click us at Capital Women’s Care to find out more.

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