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Fibroids: Know your options of treatment
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are abnormal (non-cancerous) growths that develop in or on a woman’s uterus. About 75% women have uterine fibroids. But most females don’t know that they have fibroids because often they cause no symptoms. They can vary in number and size and can occur anywhere in the uterus, either on the outer surface of the uterus or within the wall.
What are the symptoms of fibroids?
Most of them are asymptomatic. But depending on their size and location, they can cause a variety of symptoms, the most common being heavy and painful menstrual periods. Apart from these, they can cause bleeding between periods, pain in the legs, abdominal bloating, backaches, miscarriage, infertility, and pain during intercourse.
How are fibroids detected?
They can be detected during a routine pelvic examination or ultrasound. Your doctor can recommend an MRI if there is uncertainty in diagnosis.
If I have uterine fibroids, can I still get pregnant?
Many women who have fibroids get pregnant naturally. However, some women who have fibroids that change the shape and size of the uterine cavity may face reduced fertility by as much as 70%.However, if the fibroid is treated, fertility may be restored. So it is important to discuss the size and location of the fibroids with your doctor thoroughly so that an appropriate treatment can be planned.
Can fibroids turn malignant (cancerous)?
Less than 1% of uterine fibroids turn out to be cancerous.
What are the treatment options?
If you don’t have symptoms, you probably won’t need any treatment but depending upon your age, the location of the growths, the mildness or severity of your symptoms, treatment may be non-surgical or surgical.
Non-surgical methods include medication to decrease blood loss and pain. Oral contraceptive pills, GNRH analogues and progesterone releasing intra-uterine device (Mirena) are other options which target hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. They decrease the symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding, but don’t eliminate fibroids. They may shrink them.
Myomectomy (laparoscopic/ hysteroscopic/abdominal): In myomectomy, the surgeon removes the fibroids leaving the uterus in place.
Hysterectomy (laparoscopic/abdominal): Removal of the uterus remains the only proven permanent solution for uterine fibroids. But hysterectomy is a major surgery.
Thus, one has to thoroughly discuss all treatment options with the gynaecologist before reaching a decision that can provide long-term relief.
Disclaimer: The veracity of any health claim made in the above article is the responsibility of the doctor/ hospital concerned.
Dr Heena Chawla, MD, obstetrics & gynaecology; Consultant gynaecology laparoscopic and cancer surgeon at Apollo Clinic and Chd City Hospital, SCO 10-11, Sector 8-C, Chandigarh