Understanding Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are tumors that develop in the walls of the uterus. Usually these tumors are noncancerous, but this is a fairly common condition that’s known to affect more than 50% of women who are of reproductive age. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about uterine fibroids.

What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
Some women do not experience any signs or symptoms when they have uterine fibroids. For others, the symptoms are more noticeable and may include heavy menstrual bleeding, fatigue, anemia, frequent urination, pain during sex, lower-back pain, and pressure and pain in the abdomen.

Uterine Fibroids

Most of the time uterine fibroids are diagnosed following an ultrasound or another type of imaging exam like an MRI, CT scan, or X-ray. These fibroids can vary in size greatly, with some as small as an apple seed and others as large as a grapefruit. Around 60% of uterine fibroids are too small to be detected during a physical exam with your gynecologist.

Are uterine fibroids cancerous?
Around 99% of the time uterine fibroids are benign, which means they’re not cancerous. They also won’t increase your risk of uterine cancer.

Are some women at higher risk for uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are most common among women who are nearing menopause, which typically includes women in their thirties, forties, and fifties. Research also shows that women are at higher risk if they are African American, obese, eat a large amount of red meat, or have a family history of uterine fibroids. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, eating a large amount of vegetables may help protect you from developing uterine fibroids.

Is there treatment for uterine fibroids?
Often, uterine fibroids don’t require any treatment. This is especially true if they’re not causing any symptoms or affecting your life in any way. But if uterine fibroids are affecting your quality of life or causing any health issues, they can be treated with pain medication, low-dose hormonal birth control pills, hormone therapy, or surgical removal.

Surgical removal is often recommended if the fibroids are large enough to interfere with pregnancy or your ability to get pregnant, or if they’re causing fatigue, anemia, or other health problems. The two common methods for surgical removal are a hysterectomy, in which the whole uterus is removed; or a myomectomy, in which only the fibroids are removed.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

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