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Understanding Uterine Fibroids and Treatment Options

Do you experience heavy or prolonged bleeding during or between your menstrual periods? Or perhaps severe cramps during your period? These symptoms could be indicative of uterine fibroids. Also known as leiomyomas, fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors of smooth muscle cells that develop in or on the uterus. The uterus is a significant muscular organ, and the location and size of fibroids can significantly affect the symptoms you experience.

What Problems Can Fibroids Cause?

Besides causing bleeding and cramping, fibroids may lead to fertility issues such as difficulty getting pregnant, miscarriage, or preterm labor. Large fibroids can cause noticeable abdomen swelling, block the urinary pathways, or lead to frequent urination and leakage.

Who is at Risk?

Uterine fibroids are found in 20-25% of women, particularly those of childbearing age. They are three times more common in African-American women, who may experience fibroids at a younger age, have them grow more rapidly, and suffer more severe symptoms.

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Can Fibroids Be Cancerous?

While very rare, a type of cancer known as leiomyosarcoma can initially appear similar to fibroids. This cancer is more prevalent in older women and African-Americans. If fibroids grow unusually quickly, monitoring them closely with repeat ultrasounds or MRIs is recommended.

Treatment Options for Fibroids

Treatment can be aimed either at alleviating symptoms or removing the fibroids:

  • Medication: Various hormones and medications can regulate or reduce bleeding.

  • Uterine Ablation: This involves using heat or cold to reduce bleeding from the uterus and can often be performed with minimal downtime.

  • Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE): This procedure blocks blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink. It's generally not recommended for women who wish to become pregnant.

  • Myomectomy: This surgery removes fibroids while preserving the uterus, ideal for women who wish to have children. Depending on the fibroids' location, it can be performed with minimal incisions.

  • Hysterectomy: The removal of the uterus, an option when other treatments are not suitable. The approach depends on the fibroids' characteristics and the patient’s overall health.

Patient Spotlight: Cindy's Story

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Cindy, 35, suffered from irregular and heavy periods. After an ultrasound revealed a large submucosal fibroid, she underwent a myomectomy using a hysteroscope and returned to work in just two days. One month later, she became pregnant and delivered a healthy baby girl.

Take Action Against Fibroids

If you suspect you have fibroids or have been diagnosed with them, it's crucial to explore your treatment options. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Sprock at Central Florida UroGynecology to receive personalized care and expert advice. Effective treatment can significantly improve your quality of life and address fertility-related issues.

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