Q. What are uterine fibroids?
A. Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that grow in the muscular wall of the uterus.
They can range in size from very tiny to the size of a cantaloupe or larger. Uterine fibroids are also called myomas, fibromyomas or leiomyomas. Since many women who have fibroids do not experience symptoms, your doctor may only discover that you have them during a routine pelvic exam or a prenatal ultrasound.
Q. What causes uterine fibroids to develop?
A. Doctors don’t know the exact cause of fibroids, but medical science has several theories. These theories include a genetic alteration within a uterine cell, hormonal influences of estrogen and progesterone, and other naturally occurring chemicals in a woman’s body that may promote cell growth. Uterine fibroids are also believed to be a heredity condition. If your mother or a sister has uterine fibroids, you are at greater risk of developing them.
Q. Who usually has uterine fibroids?
A. About 20 to 40 percent of all women age 35 and older have uterine fibroids of a significant size. African-American women have a higher risk of developing fibroids.
Q. What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
A. While many women have no symptoms from having uterine fibroids, some women experience:
Q. Do uterine fibroids increase cancer risks?
A. Fibroids are benign tumors that almost never develop into cancer.
Q. Can I prevent uterine fibroids?
A. Doctors do not currently know how to prevent uterine fibroids from developing in women.
Q. When should I see a doctor about my fibroids?
A. Most fibroids have few symptoms and do not require treatment. However, if you experience any of the symptoms listed above, make an appointment with your doctor to determine the exact cause and possible treatments.
Q. How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?
A. In some cases, fibroids are first detected during a routine pelvic exam. Following the exam, the presence of fibroids is usually confirmed by an abdominal ultrasound. Fibroids can also be confirmed with other painless diagnostic tests, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Q. How are uterine fibroids treated?
A. The type of treatment recommended for uterine fibroids will be based on the number, size, location and current symptoms. The first approach for treatment is often drug therapy, which may include a prescription birth-control pill, other hormonal therapy or the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In many cases, symptoms are controlled with these medications and additional therapy isn’t necessary.
If further treatment is required, the physicians at the Borgess Fibroid Center will work with you to help decide what option is right for you. The Borgess Fibroid Center offers women access to all of the leading treatment solutions, focusing on uterus-sparing, minimally invasive options.
Q. What specialists will treat my fibroids?
A. The Borgess Fibroid Center combines the expertise of gynecologists and interventional radiologists. Interventional radiologists are board-certified physicians who perform minimally invasive procedures, such as uterine artery embolization with the guidance of imaging technology. Minimally invasive procedures can reduce the risks associated with traditional surgery and offers patients a more rapid recovery.
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