Fibroids, or uterine leiomyoma, are benign tumors of the uterus that develop from smooth muscle cells. Over 30% of women have fibroids. The cause of their growth is unknown but there is a genetic predisposition. Thankfully, in most cases, fibroids do not cause any symptoms or require treatment.
The most common symptoms of fibroids are heavy periods, bleeding between periods, and painful cycles. They may also cause abdominal pain, back pain, urinary frequency, miscarriage and infertility. Once a fibroid has developed, it will not disappear on its own. There are no medications to dissolve fibroids. Changes in diet and lifestyle habits will not make them shrink. However some medications like birth control pills, ibuprofen, and progestin-containing IUDs can make the bleeding lighter and less painful.
The most common and effective treatment of fibroids is surgical removal of the tumors. Depending on the size and number, this may be done with an incision on the skin or through a laparoscopy. Fibroids within the cavity of the uterus may be removed via a vaginal procedure called hysteroscopy. Another treatment for fibroids is uterine artery embolization, or UAE. In this procedure, a radiologist injects a substance into the arteries that feed the fibroid, decreasing the blood flow. The fibroid does not disappear completely but may decrease in size. Fibroid treatment depends on the size and location of the tumors. Your doctor can explain which treatments may help you the most.