The female body is incredible: It undergoes amazing changes throughout its lifespan, tolerates a not-so-enjoyable monthly cycle, carries and births children, and does so much more. Unfortunately, the female body is also sometimes troublesome. It runs into unexpected kinks and endures unexplained symptoms, which can be incredibly frustrating.
Uterine fibroids are one of those unexpected and unexplained conditions. Dr. Neeraj Kohli, a urology and gynecology expert at Boston Urogyn, explains what uterine fibroids are, what they feel like, and how to get rid of them.
Fibroids are benign, noncancerous growths that build up in a woman’s uterus. Also called leiomyomas (lie-o-my-O-muhs) or myomas, uterine fibroids can get very large and cause potentially severe side effects.
Usually, fibroids don’t cause any medical harm on their own (other than the symptoms, of course, explained below), and they aren’t related to an increased risk of uterine cancer. They can range in size from microscopic beads to massive knots that enlarge the uterus.
Experts aren’t entirely sure what causes uterine fibroids, but think that genetics, lifestyle factors, and hormones are likely culprits.
Many women don’t experience any symptoms when they have uterine fibroids, especially if the fibroids are small. However, in women who do show symptoms, many experience the following:
Years ago, removing your entire uterus was the only way to treat uterine fibroids. Thanks to serious advancements in medicine, experts have developed several ways to get rid of fibroids without affecting your fertility and without raising any secondary concerns.
Your treatment for uterine fibroids depends on a few things, such as your symptoms, the type of fibroid, location of the fibroids, and severity of your case. Some potential treatments Dr. Kohli might recommend include:
Diet and lifestyle changes: Because doctors don’t know the exact cause of uterine fibroids, there are no standard lifestyle recommendations like there are for diabetes or hypertension. However, many women experience a reduction in symptoms when they start exercising, eating healthy, and losing weight.
Hormonal medications: Sometimes, hormone imbalances contribute to uterine fibroids. Certain medications can inhibit the production of certain hormones, which might reduce your symptoms.
Contraceptives: Hormonal contraceptives may also reduce fibroid symptoms — particularly excessive menstrual cramps and bleeding — by regulating your hormone levels and your menstrual cycle.
Focused ultrasound: Your doctor uses a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine to locate your uterine fibroids and then employs a focused ultrasound to zap them with high frequencies. This is usually a permanent procedure that reduces the size of fibroids or completely eliminates them.
Uterine artery embolization: This procedure essentially kills the arteries in certain parts of your uterus, which starves the fibroids of their blood supply, thereby eliminating them.
Endometrial ablation: In this procedure, your doctor uses heat or electrical energy to destroy your endometrium, the lining of your uterus. This usually eliminates a good portion of fibroids and stops heavy bleeding.
If you suspect you may have uterine fibroids, call Dr. Kohli today or request an appointment online at one of our four Boston-area locations.