There are two important points to consider when it comes to uterine fibroids: 1) They’re usually benign, and 2) Up to 80% of women develop fibroids during their reproductive years and few require treatment. That said, there are times when uterine fibroids can become problematic and removal is your best option.
As specialists in women’s health, our team here at Associates in Obstetrics & Gynecology is well-versed in uterine fibroids, and we understand when these benign growths require treatment. In fact, we’re armed with the latest technology for gynecologic surgery — the da Vinci® robotic system — which excels in fibroid removal.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at uterine fibroids and when removal may be your best option.
Fibroids — mostly harmless
We started this blog with one of the more salient points when it comes to uterine fibroids — they’re almost always benign. Medically known as leiomyomas or myomas, fibroids are noncancerous muscular tumors that develop in the walls of your uterus.
Most women develop these growths toward the end of their reproductive years, typically in their 40s and early 50s. The exact causes of these fibroids aren’t fully understood, but we do know that hormones and genetics appear to influence the condition.
The fibroids themselves can be quite small — about the size of a kernel of rice — but they can also grow to the size of a grapefruit, or larger. The size, number, and location of your uterine fibroids often dictates whether or not you experience any symptoms.
The symptoms of uterine fibroids
In many cases, women don’t know that they've developed uterine fibroids, as they’re so small that they don’t present any problems. In fact, uterine fibroids tend to shrink after menopause, so you may be unaware of their existence altogether.
Women who develop problematic uterine fibroids may experience:
- A heaviness in their abdomens
- Heavy bleeding
- Painful sex
- The need to urinate more often
- Lower back pain
- Pregnancy complications
When we mention pregnancy complications, it’s important to note that most women successfully navigate pregnancy and delivery with uterine fibroids. In some cases, however, the fibroids can place you more at risk for Cesarean section as well as breech and preterm delivery, among other problems.
When fibroids should be treated
If your uterine fibroids are creating quality-of-life issues, there are generally three ways we can treat the problem:
1. Hormonal control
If you don’t plan on getting pregnant, but your fibroids are causing heavy bleeding or discomfort, we typically first start with hormonal medications that work to shrink your fibroids.
Getting to the title of this blog, if your fibroids don’t respond to hormonal medications or you’d like to better navigate a pregnancy, having us remove your fibroids may provide the best solution moving forward.
At our practice, our own Dr. Jack Tubbs is a leading expert in the use of the innovative da Vinci robotic technology, which allows him to use a precise, minimally invasive approach to removing your problematic fibroids. In fact, the goal with the da Vinci system is to reduce your risks for infection and pain, and shorten your recovery period.
If your quality of life has been greatly affected by uterine fibroids and you’re not planning on becoming pregnant again, another solution is a hysterectomy, a procedure in which we remove your uterus, fibroids and all.
Ultimately, the decision as to whether to remove your fibroids is one that’s best made after we perform a thorough evaluation. To get started, please contact our office in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to set up an appointment.