Fibroids are fibrous growths that occur in the muscular walls of the uterus and are sometimes detected during a routine gynecological examination. The presence of these can be confirmed by an ultrasound or an MRI. These benign tumors can cause you to have painful heavy periods and eventually bring on anemia, grow large enough to make you look pregnant when you're not, interfere with fertility, and cause problems during pregnancy. There are some good treatment options to cope with this condition, or to get rid of it altogether.
The specific causes of fibroid growth is unknown, but excess estrogen and progesterone are known factors. Genetics may play a role, and obesity increases the chances of developing them. There is evidence that consuming a lot of mammalian meats can make them grow larger, and eating green leafy vegetables discourages their growth, so you may want to add more fish, nuts, and greens to your diet and avoid beef, pork, and other red meats.
Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with the pain while birth control pill therapy may control or stop the heavy bleeding associated with fibroids. A hormone treatment known as "gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist" will induce a temporary menopausal state because it reduces the amount of estrogen your body will produce and this will shrink fibroids. Since it also gives you the other menopausal side effects, it is only used as a short-term measure. This treatment could be used in preparation for a minimally invasive procedure to remove the tumors.
Options that Preserve Childbearing Include:
Myomectomy – A surgeon will remove visible fibroids by hysteroscopic (uses a telescoping device with an electric current to slice off submucosal fibroids), laparoscopic (using a thin lighted tube that is put through an incision in the abdomen), or abdominal means.
Mylosis – this a laparoscopic procedure that destroys the arteries that feed the growths and cause them to shrink.
Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) – This is the newest approach to treating fibroids and it involves using X-rays to guide an interventional radiologist as they block arterial blood supply to fibroid growths with small particles.
Endometrial Ablation and Hysterectomy
Endometrial ablation destroys the endometrial lining of the uterus so you would no longer have periods and won't be able to bear children after this procedure. The endometrium is scarred during the healing process so it monthly bleeding does not occur. Methods include laser thermal, thermal (heat) ablation, electrical, freezing, microwave, and radiofrequency ablation.
The downside to this procedure is that it doesn't get rid of the fibroids, and if you are pre-menopausal, you may still need to use contraceptives to prevent fertilization. The upside is that this is usually done in less than an hour in a doctor's office or outpatient facility and requires only local, spinal, or general anesthesia.
One final tried and true remedy is having a hysterectomy, and if the fibroids are very large, this may be recommended. Even though it is a serious surgical procedure, needs to be done in a hospital, and has a longer recovery time than ablation, the fibroids are completely removed with the uterus and you will no longer have periods. To avoid going into premature menopause, the surgeon can leave the ovaries intact in your body. Of course, the removal of your uterus will mean the end of your childbearing ability.
Talk to Your Gynecologist
You should discuss treatment options with a gynecologist at a clinic like Women First OBGYN. To recap: If the fibroids are very small and asymptomatic, you may try dietary changes and weight loss to combat their growth. Removal of growths through minimally invasive means is possible when the tumors are causing you problems, and these methods preserve your fertility.
To stop the heavy periods permanently you may opt for endometrial ablation that can be done on an outpatient basis. Finally, there is hysterectomy which may be a good option for you if you are older, no longer interested in getting pregnant, and have large fibroid tumors.