How To Treat Fibroids
A physician can offer guidance for how to treat fibroids. If no symptoms occur treatment isn’t necessary. A woman’s fibroids will tend to shrink during menopause. Her physician will watch the fibroids for changes to track symptoms and growths. Prior to menopause, women need to consider whether they still desire to have children or not before deciding if and how they wish to treat their fibroids. For women near menopause, adopting a wait and see approach may be the best decision.
Medication can be used to control symptoms or to shrink tumors. For pain, an over-the-counter medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be taken. Other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used also. If a woman experiences heavy bleeding, she can take iron supplements to combat or prevent anemia. Female contraceptives (birth control) can also be used as a method to treat fibroids. They control heavy bleeding and can relieve minor pain, while also preventing pregnancy if this is a concern.
Several medications are used to treat fibroids.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists – treat fibroids by decreasing progesterone and estrogen levels. This puts the body in a post-menopause state, which stops menstruation, can improve anemia, and shrink fibroids. If discontinued, fibroids usually grow back.
Intrauterine device (IUD) – releases small doses of progesterone into a woman’s uterus to relieve heavy bleeding and pain but won’t shrink fibroids.
Androgens – stop menstruation, shrink fibroids, and get rid of anemia. It’s rarely used because it basically causes a woman to exhibit manly traits, such as a deepening voice and hair growth, and also causes acne and headaches.
Progestin – reduces bleeding and prevents pregnancy. Studies differ as related to fibroid growth. Some show shrinkage, others show growth depending on the patient.
When a woman wants to know how to treat fibroids permanently, in past the only solution was a hysterectomy. This procedure removes her entire uterus and she can elect to have her ovaries removed also. If her ovaries are removed, hormone replacement therapy is usually needed. Now, with the development of Halt Medical’s Acessa™ System that employs radiofrequency ablation, women have the ability to treat all of their fibroids without having to lose their uterus.
In addition to radiofrequency ablation, a woman who would like to preserve their uterus can choose to have a myomectomy. Myomectomy is the surgical removal of fibroids from the uterus. It allows the uterus to be left in place and, for some women, makes pregnancy more likely than before. Currently, myomectomy is the preferred fibroid treatment for women who want to become pregnant. After myomectomy, your chances of becoming pregnant may be improved but are not guaranteed. Myomectomies can be done in one of three ways:
- Abdominal – open abdominal procedure for large fibroids
- Laparoscopic – instruments or robots used to remove small fibroids as doctor watches
- Hysteroscopic – instruments entered through vagina to uterus as doctor views through a scope
Myomectomy does have risks of complication and recurrence rates for fibroids can run from 10% - 50%.
There are a few other minimally invasive procedures as well. An MRI focused ultrasound may be used to destroy fibroids in multiple sessions. Uterine artery embolization (UAE) stops blood flow to fibroids. They shrink, but cause pain that may require prescription relief. Myolysis uses a laser or electric current to terminate fibroids and minimize feeding blood vessels. Endometrial ablation is performed with a special instrument that uses microwaves, electric current, or hot water to destroy the uterus lining, which ends or reduces menstruation.
Information on how to treat fibroids is crucial if a woman is experiencing symptoms. With this knowledge and the aid of a physician she can make the best choices for her situation.
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