Most women have heard of fibroids — those usually benign growths in the uterus that occur during the childbearing years and mostly in your 30s, 40s, and 50s. If you’ve ever had them, you know how miserable they can make you feel. However, some women don’t even know they have them because they don’t experience any symptoms.
It’s important to have regular checkups with your gynecologist so fibroids can be diagnosed and treated. Dr. Gwen Allen of the Gardena Women’s Center has years of expertise caring for women with uterine fibroids. Once diagnosed, she devises a treatment plan so you won’t have to live with a painful, heavy period each month. Here’s what every woman needs to know about fibroids.
Fibroids differ in shape, size, and location
Fibroids are muscular tissue growths in your uterus. They’re almost always noncancerous, and they’re the most common pelvic tumor in women.
Fibroids can grow in your uterine wall or in your uterine cavity. They can be tiny and hardly cause any problems or so large that they change the shape of your uterus and make it difficult for you to get pregnant.
Symptoms vary from woman to woman, ranging from nonexistent to severe. For some women, symptoms are debilitating, causing them to miss out on social activities, exercise routines, or even a day or two of work.
Do you have any of these symptoms?
- Pain in your abdomen or pelvic area
- Heavy periods
- The urge to urinate often
- Painful urination
- Back or leg pain
Fibroids could be to blame.
What causes fibroids?
The exact cause isn’t known. Some factors make you more likely to get fibroids, such as:
- A family member had them
- Your first period started at a young age
- Hormone imbalance
- Eating too much red meat and too few green vegetables
- Regular alcohol use
- Obesity, defined as a body mass index of 30 or above
Fibroids have estrogen and progesterone receptors in them. When these hormones prepare your uterus for a possible pregnancy each month, they could stimulate the growth of fibroids.
Treatment for fibroids
Your treatment plan depends on the severity of your symptoms. Some women may just need to take medication, while others may require surgery.
Oral contraceptives, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or intrauterine devices that release progestin may help regulate fibroids and manage related pain. Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists stop ovulation and the production of estrogen; as a result, your fibroids may shrink.
In some cases, fibroids can be removed through small incisions during minimally invasive procedures, such as a myomectomy. If your fibroids are too large, or if you have too many, your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy to remove your uterus. Surgery may also be recommended if other treatment options don’t help.
If fibroids are affecting your quality of life, it’s time to get professional help. Make an appointment with Dr. Allen at Gardena Women’s Center today. Just call 310-504-3025, or use the online appointment request tool.