Uterine fibroids tend to develop during a woman's childbearing years and can cause fertility problems. Uterine fibroids are growths that develop on and in the uterus and can cause the uterus to expand. These growths are not cancerous, but they can alter the length of a woman's menstrual cycle, cause pelvic pain and increase menstrual bleeding. It's not fully understood why women develop these growths, but an oestrogen and progesterone imbalance is thought to contribute to uterine fibroids developing. In postmenopausal women, these hormones decrease, and uterine fibroids shrink as a result. Here's an overview of the treatment options for this condition:
Hormone therapy won't get rid of uterine fibroids, but it can shrink them and bring you relief from the associated symptoms. This treatment approach involves taking medication known as a hormone antagonist, which supresses the production of the reproductive hormones that are thought to stimulate the growth of the fibroids. These drugs can cause menstruation to stop, which can help women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding recover from anaemia. However, this treatment approach is not suitable for those trying to conceive, and symptoms tend to reappear when treatment is stopped.
Non-invasive surgery is an outpatient procedure that's carried out without making any incisions. Your doctor will use ultrasound waves to break down and destroy fibroid tissue, and the procedure is carried out while you are in an MRI scanner. This allows the doctor to pinpoint exactly where the fibroids are, which makes this a safe procedure that preserves the health of your uterus and can be a good initial option for those wanting to conceive.
Laparoscopic myomectomy is a minimally-invasive technique that involves having two small incisions made in your abdomen. A small camera at the end of a flexible tube is inserted into one incision and thin surgical instruments are inserted in the other incision and used to remove uterine fibroids that have developed on the outside of the uterus. This type of surgery minimises the risk of scar tissue developing on the uterus, which can be a serious complication of traditional laparotomies that involve having large incisions made in the abdomen.
If you have fibroids on the inside of your uterus, a procedure called hysteroscopic myomectomy can be performed. This procedure requires no abdominal incisions, and fibroids are surgically removed using instruments that are inserted into the uterus through your cervix. This can be carried out as a day case procedure, but it's usually recommended patients have a general anaesthetic to minimise discomfort.
You can see a bulk billing doctor for uterine fibroids, so if you're struggling to manage your symptoms, discuss your concerns with your doctor and ask for a referral to a specialist.