How Are Fibroids Diagnosed and Treated?

If you have pelvic pain and heavy periods, the cause might be something called uterine fibroids. These fibroids are non-cancerous growths inside your uterus or attached to it.

Although these fibroids rarely cause cancer, they can definitely make your life more miserable. Fortunately, there are ways that fibroids can be treated. Dr. Daniel Esteves explains more about how to diagnose and treat fibroids.

Risk factors

Although anyone can develop uterine fibroids, some women are more likely than others to have this condition. They’re most common in women of childbearing age, particularly in their 30s or 40s.

Family history is another risk factor. If your mother or sister had fibroids, you are more likely to develop them, too.

African-American women are also more likely to develop fibroids than white women, and the fibroids also tend to grow more quickly.

Obesity is another risk factor for developing fibroids. Very heavy women are two to three times more likely to develop fibroids.

There is also a dietary component: Women who eat a lot of red meat and don’t eat many vegetables are more likely to develop fibroids.

Diagnosing fibroids

The first clue that you might have fibroids is that you have heavy periods and experience pelvic pain or pressure. Other symptoms may include frequent urination, pain during intercourse, and lower back pain. However, you can also have fibroids without having any symptoms at all.

Dr. Esteves diagnoses fibroids using a couple of different techniques. If your fibroids aren’t causing any symptoms, he may just monitor them on a regular basis with an ultrasound.

If your fibroids are causing some pain, you may be advised to take over-the-counter pain relievers. If you’re experiencing heavy bleeding, you may also be advised to take iron supplements so that you don’t become anemic as a result.

Treating more symptomatic fibroids

If your fibroids are causing significant pain and you aren’t planning on having children soon, you may want to consider taking birth control pills to reduce the bleeding and the growth of the fibroids. You can also consider progesterone injections or using an IUD for the same purpose.

Medications called gonadotropin-releasing hormone injections also shrink fibroids and reduce your symptoms. However, these medications induce temporary menopause, so you may experience other side effects, such as hot flashes.

When your fibroids are quite large or don’t respond to these treatments, surgery may be recommended. When possible, minimally invasive procedures are tried first. A procedure called a myomectomy removes just the fibroid while sparing the rest of your reproductive organs.

In more severe cases, you may need more invasive procedures. Endometrial ablation destroys the lining of the uterus, which may stop your periods altogether, so it isn’t recommended for women who still intend on having more children. Another serious step for resolving fibroids is a hysterectomy, a surgery that removes your uterus.

If you have any of the symptoms of fibroids or if Dr. Esteves tells you that he has discovered one during an exam, you can be reassured that treatment is possible. Contact Dr. Daniel Esteves, or request an appointment online if you think you might have fibroids.

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