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What are the Different Types of Fibroid Treatment?

By Archana Khambekar
Updated May 17, 2024
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A fibroid is a non-cancerous tumor or growth that can occur in the uterus. The treatment approach prescribed for fibroids depends on various factors such as the symptoms experienced, the size, and location of the fibroids, whether a woman plans to have children, or is approaching menopause. There are different types of fibroid treatment including medications that can check abnormal bleeding and keep the fibroids from growing. Surgical procedures, and minimally-invasive techniques that shrink fibroids, remove the fibroid tumors, or dissolve the fibroids are among the recommended treatment options.

Fibroids often vary in size, number, and rate of growth. They may develop in the uterine wall, grow into the inner cavity, or on the surface of the uterus. The female hormone, estrogen is considered to promote fibroid growth. Thus, typically, fibroids grow until a woman reaches menopause.

A gynecologist can detect fibroids in the course of a pelvic examination. Imaging tests such as an ultrasound might be performed to verify the diagnosis. Fibroids that are small in size, and which are not causing symptoms or discomfort usually do not need medical treatment. In many cases, fibroids are slow growing and decrease in size post menopause as the female reproductive hormones decline. To monitor the growth of the fibroids, a gynecologist may carry out a pelvic examination at intervals of six months or a year.

Sometimes however, women develop symptoms such as pelvic pain and pressure, abnormal or heavy menstrual bleeding, or urinary problems. In some instances, a woman might have trouble conceiving or have a greater risk of a miscarriage because of fibroids. Different types of fibroid treatment including medications and surgical options are available for women who suffer due to this condition.

An over-the-counter or prescription pain reliever may be suggested to ease sporadic pelvic pain. If a woman experiences excessive menstrual bleeding due to the fibroids, the physician could recommend birth control pills. Medications known as Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists might be prescribed to decrease the size of the fibroids. These drugs initiate menopause by preventing the ovaries from producing estrogen, thus controlling fibroid growth and blood loss from heavy periods. Once the medication is discontinued, periods resume, and fibroids tend to grow again.

One of the least invasive treatment options is fibroid embolization. Typically, this procedure involves injecting an embolic agent such as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) into the arteries that supply blood to the fibroid. As PVA impedes blood supply to the fibroid its growth can be curtailed. Pain medication is prescribed following the procedure and hospital stay is minimal. Sometimes, a physician might recommend a procedure known as myolysis. In this technique, an electric current or laser destructs the fibroids, and contracts the blood vessels that nourish them.

Of the different types of fibroid treatment available, a surgical procedure known as myomectomy may be a good option for some women. Fibroids can be taken out with a myomectomy. The surgery could be conducted through tiny incisions in the abdomen, or by inserting a fine instrument called the hysteroscope into the uterus via the cervix. Physicians generally prefer this procedure for women who would like to preserve their fertility. While a myomectomy often takes care of the symptoms, new fibroids may develop later.

The latest technique in fibroid treatment is focused ultrasound surgery. In this procedure, doctors determine the exact location of the fibroids to be treated with the help of magnetic resonance imaging. Sound waves are then directed with precision towards the fibroid mass to heat and eliminate the tissue. The recommendation for this procedure typically depends on where the fibroids are located. Focused ultrasound surgery often relieves symptoms, but its impact on conception and the course of pregnancy has not been thoroughly understood as yet.

Surgical removal of the uterus, called hysterectomy can offer lasting relief from fibroids, but is much more invasive than other treatment options. Women who undergo this procedure cannot have children, so it is usually not favored in case of women who are of reproductive age. When considering different types of fibroid treatment, it is advisable to ascertain the benefits and risks of the various options, and indicate to the doctor whether one plans to have children.

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