Five Fibroid Facts - PIH Health

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Published on February 18, 2016

Five Fibroid Facts

woman suffering from fibroids

Here are 5 things to know about uterine fibroids:

  1. woman suffering from fibroidsFibroids are common noncancerous tissue masses that can develop inside, on the surface, or in the wall of the uterus.
  2. About 80 percent of women have them. They are most common in women in their 30s and 40s.
  3. They can be any size, from apple seed to watermelon (in rare cases, they can be larger). There can be one or several at the same time.
  4. Fibroids can cause a variety of symptoms or none at all. The most common is heavy bleeding. Other symptoms include pain, pressure in the pelvic region, painful intercourse, frequent urination and infertility.
  5. Risk factors include:
  • Family history
  • Age (30s and 40s through menopause; after menopause, fibroids usually shrink)
  • Ethnicity – anyone can get them at any time, but they tend to affect Asians and African American women more often
  • Weight – obese and overweight women are at higher risk (2-3 times higher)
  • Diet – red meat and ham is linked to a higher risk of fibroids; alternately, eating plenty of green vegetables seems to prevent or limit the development of fibroids

Treatment Options

As stated earlier, some women experience no symptoms at all and therefore never even know they have fibroids. However, in some cases the symptoms can be serious enough to warrant treatment.

  • Hormone Therapy – relieves the symptoms such as pain or heavy bleeding, but does not eliminate the fibroid
  • Non-invasive focused ultrasound – high doses of ultrasound waves destroy the fibroid
  • Minimally invasive options – such as an embolization which blocks blood supply to the fibroids; or an ablation, which uses electrical energy, heat, or cold to destroy the lining of the uterus (this latter option does not remove the fibroid, it only relieves the heavy bleeding)
  • Surgical Therapy – Myomectomy or Hysterectomy, the former removes the fibroid, the latter removes the uterus

There are different types of myomectomy and hysterectomy procedures. The size, number and location of the fibroids can influence which is the most appropriate, as can the severity of the symptoms. Choosing a surgical option should be discussed at length with the doctor as it may affect whether the woman can have children after the procedure or not.

When To See Your Doctor

A “normal” period should last 4-7 days, so if you are experiencing longer periods, heavy bleeding, extreme pain, and/or pelvic pressure, talk to your doctor. Fibroids can't be prevented, but if appropriate and necessary, they can be managed. 

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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