From CBS News, September 25, 2013
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What are uterine fibroids?
Also referred to as myomas, uterine fibroids are growths of the uterus. They develop from uterine tissue and are non-cancerous. Uterine fibroids often appear during a woman’s childbearing years. They can grow randomly and shrink on their own at times. Some fibroids go completely unnoticed because they are so small and do not cause any noticeable symptoms.
What causes uterine fibroids?
There aren’t proven causes of uterine fibroids, but there are many factors that may contribute to their formation and growth.
Hormones – Estrogen and progesterone can promote the growth of uterine fibroids.
Genetic Links – Studies show that uterine fibroids may run in families. If your mother or sister suffers from fibroids, your chances of developing them are higher.
Early Menstrual Onset – For women who begin their menstrual cycle at an early age, a higher risk of developing uterine fibroids may be present.
What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
Some common symptoms are: prolonged menstrual bleeding, pelvic or back pain, urinary problems, and heavy bleeding. It is also possible that small fibroids cause no noticeable symptoms.
How are uterine fibroids treated?
There are a variety of treatment options for uterine fibroids.
Medication – There are medications that temporarily stop estrogen and progesterone production called Gn-RH agonists. These medications cause a temporary postmenopausal state and effectively shrink the problem-causing fibroids. There are also a variety of medications used to treat the symptoms of uterine fibroids (bleeding and associated pain). These do not focus on shrinking the fibroids.
Minimally Invasive Procedures – Myomectomy (Laparoscopic, Robotic, or Hysteroscopic) are variations of the surgical removal of uterine fibroids. Endometrial Ablation reduces the menstrual flow through treatment focused directly on the lining of the uterus. Uterine Artery Embolization is when an injection to the arteries cuts off blood flow to the fibroid causing it to shrink and die.
Hysterectomy – This is a permanent solution to stop the growth and symptoms associated with uterine fibroids.
Because of the large variety of sizes and possible locations of uterine fibroids, it is best to always consult your doctor with any concerns you may have. They will work with you to examine the best treatment plan for your specific case.
Recently I spent a day with Dr. Vincent Lucente and Dr. Cristina Saiz who specialize in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Lucente and his fellow, Dr. Saiz are dedicated to providing excellent surgical care to their patients. They are willing to share their techniques with others and I greatly benefited from being in the operating room with them for the day. They are able to perform life changing procedures for women using minimally invasive methods. Dr. Lucente is very passionate about healthcare issues for women and he has agreed to join the board for Pass the Pearls and help with our mission to educate women about minimally invasive surgery options. Thank you Dr.s Lucente and Saiz for sharing! Lori Warren.
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