Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow within the muscle of the uterus. They are especially common in women of childbearing age. Fibroids can cause heavy periods, bleeding between periods and pain during intercourse.
There are many therapies available to treat fibroids. These include medicines that can help reduce bleeding and ease pain.
Endometrial ablation can slow or stop heavy bleeding. It involves removing a thin layer of the uterine lining.
Another procedure that can help control symptoms is uterine fibroid embolization. This nonsurgical procedure reduces the size of fibroids, stops their growth in the uterine wall, and provides relief from painful symptoms and bleeding.
During the procedure, an interventional radiologist makes a painless incision smaller than the tip of a pen in the groin area. A small tube is placed in an artery and guided to the uterus where the growths are located. The doctor then injects tiny beads through the tube into the arteries that supply blood to the fibroids. These beads stop the flow of blood to the fibroids, which causes them to shrink.
When pelvic pain or abnormal bleeding is severe, or when other treatments fail, a woman may choose to have surgery, such as a myomectomy or a hysterectomy.
During a myomectomy, a doctor removes only the fibroids, leaving the healthy areas of the uterus in place. Less-invasive options of this procedure are available, including robotic-assisted and laparoscopic. Myomectomy can preserve a woman’s ability to have children.
A hysterectomy removes the uterus. Some procedures involve an incision through the abdomen, while others are performed through an incision in the vagina. The operation also may be done with smaller incisions and less-invasive techniques. After a hysterectomy, a woman stops having her period and cannot become pregnant. She also may have menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes.