Uterine fibroids, often simply called fibroids, are growths in the uterus that are usually not cancerous. You can have one or multiple fibroids, which can vary in size, and it’s not uncommon to go years without realizing you have them. If they cause bothersome symptoms, however, it’s time to see a specialist about potential treatment.
At McDowell Mountain Gynecology, Scottsdale, Arizona, Rachel Spieldoch, MD, FACOG, and her team diagnose and treat fibroids using the latest diagnostic technologies while supporting your gynecological and overall health. Read on to learn five important facts about fibroids, including ways we can help.
1. Certain factors can increase your risk
No one knows exactly what causes fibroids, but numerous factors may contribute to their development. Being a person of color or over age 40, having family history of fibroids, having started your period unusually young, and carrying excess body weight can all increase your risk of developing fibroids.
2. You may or may not need treatment
Of the up to 80% of women who will develop uterine fibroids by age 50, roughly 25-30% will experience symptoms that need treatment. While you may learn that you have fibroids during a routine pelvic exam, you probably won’t need treatment if you aren’t experiencing symptoms.
Signs you may need fibroid treatment include:
- Aches in your back or legs
- Chronic constipation
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
- Frequent urination
- Heavy periods
- Periods lasting more than a week
- Pelvic pain or pressure
3. Delaying needed treatment can increase symptoms
The average woman struggles for three years or more before seeking fibroid treatment. This is often due to not knowing enough about the issue, being told that the symptoms are “normal,” or fearing that seeking care may lead to a hysterectomy.
This can be problematic, because untreated symptomatic fibroids can lead to complications, such as anemia and increasing fatigue from intense blood loss. And there’s no reason to suffer through fibroid symptoms.
4. Fibroids can impact fertility and childbirth
Another reason to seek treatment for fibroids is the impact they may have on your ability to get pregnant. While most people with fibroids safely give birth, you may be six times more likely to deliver prematurely or require a C-section because of a breech position. Fibroids may also interfere with labor progression or make way for placental abruption.
5. You won’t necessarily need a hysterectomy
If fear of needing a hysterectomy is keeping you from getting the fibroid care you need, you may want to reconsider. In most cases, Dr. Spieldoch recommends the most conservative treatment options available. Surgical removal of your uterus is often a last resort and for especially severe cases.
Other treatments for fibroids can include:
- Medications to regulate your menstrual cycle
- Watchful waiting to see if fibroids diminish on their own
- Removal during a minimally invasive surgery
- Abdominal myomectomy for surgical removal of large fibroids
To learn more about fibroids or get the care you need, book an appointment online or over the phone with McDowell Mountain Gynecology today.