If uterine fibroids are causing you pain, heavy bleeding or other troubling symptoms, the good news is that UCLA doctors offer a variety of effective treatments to provide you with relief.
Fibroids are firm, compact growths that occur in or on the wall of the uterus. More than 99 percent are noncancerous, or benign, and do not increase your risk of developing uterine cancer.
Fibroids consist of smooth muscle cells that line the uterus and dense connective tissue. They can range from the size of a pea to the size of an orange. About 40 to 80 percent of women in their reproductive years have fibroids, according to the National Institutes of Health.
While the cause of fibroids is not completely understood, the sex hormone estrogen contributes to their growth. As women approach menopause and their estrogen levels decline, fibroids tend to shrink.
Fibroids often don’t cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can vary in intensity and may include:
Sometimes heavy or prolonged periods or bleeding between periods can lead to low red-blood cell counts (anemia), which also requires treatment.
Your doctor can sometimes detect fibroids during a routine pelvic exam. In addition to asking about your symptoms, your doctor may perform a transvaginal ultrasound, which uses sound waves to create pictures of the pelvic area, or other imaging tests.
Treatment for uterine fibroids is typically only necessary if they are causing symptoms. The type of therapy you and your doctor choose may depend on whether you have plans to become pregnant. While most women with fibroids can become pregnant without any problems, large fibroids can interfere with fertility.
Therapies for fibroids may include:
If you are experiencing symptoms of uterine fibroids and want to talk to a doctor about treatment, contact the UCLA Fibroid Treatment Program at (310) 794-7274.
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