By the time most women reach age 50 they will have developed at least 1 uterine fibroid—a non-cancerous tumor that grows in the uterus wall. Despite 26 million women in the United States having uterine fibroids, accurate information about treatment is hard to come by. There are numerous myths surrounding uterine fibroid treatment, from how they affect fertility to whether or not they cause cancer.
Kathy Huang, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the Division of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery, provides science-backed facts about uterine fibroids.
Fibroids come in all shapes and sizes, and may grow, shrink, or remain the same over time. They can cause heavy bleeding and painful cramping, and can get large enough that they can put pressure on your bladder and bowels. But some women can be in denial. “By the time I see them, they have enormous fibroids. There’s a part of them that says, ‘Oh, I was hoping it would just go away,’ but they don’t,” says Dr. Huang.
How to treat uterine fibroids depends on symptoms, fertility concerns, and personal preference. Hysterectomy isn’t always necessary, and while it’s the only cure for uterine fibroids, it’s not the only treatment option, says Dr. Huang. Other treatment options include hysteroscopy, removing fibroids in the cavity of the uterus, endometrial ablation, destroying the lining of the uterus to treat small tumors, and myomectomy, removing just the fibroids. There are also nonsurgical procedures and medications to reduce heavy bleeding and shrink the fibroids.
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