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What are the Different Ways to Shrink Fibroids?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are a few different ways to shrink fibroids. These include watchful waiting, medication and a procedure used to block blood flow to the fibroid. The best treatment method may depend on the type of fibroid, where it is located, the age and health status of the patient, and her preferences. Since most fibroids occur in the uterus, whether or not a woman hopes to have children often plays a role in how they are treated.

One way to shrink a fibroid is with watchful waiting, which is also called expectant management. In most cases, fibroids are slow to grow, and they often shrink on their own, though this usually happens after menopause has occurred. Since they’re not cancerous and may not cause symptoms, waiting and monitoring their growth is a viable treatment option for some women. If they cause pain, bleeding, clotting, or infertility, however, it may be necessary to choose another course.

A doctor may prescribe medications for shrinking fibroids. For example, a doctor may prescribe Gn-RH agonists, which are medications that target estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that help regulate a woman’s menstrual periods. These medications cause a decrease in estrogen and progesterone. The effect is often a temporary stop to menstruation and shrinkage of fibroids.

Some women may take a drug called Danazol to help shrink fibroids. This drug is synthetic and acts similarly to testosterone, a male sex hormone. It stops a woman’s menstrual periods and may help to shrink fibroids, but it may also cause side effects women find uncomfortable and unpleasant. For example, some women may develop acne, experience increased headaches, or gain weight while taking this medication. Sometimes this drug also causes depression and facial hair growth. It may even cause a woman’s voice to deepen.

Another option for shrinking uterine fibroids is called uterine artery embolization. For this procedure, a doctor inserts a very thin tube, called a catheter, into arteries that supply blood to the fibroids. Next, he uses it to inject small substances into the arteries, creating a blockage that cuts off the blood supply to the fibroids. Without an adequate blood supply, the fibroids shrink and die. This procedure shouldn't prove dangerous for a woman’s uterus, as it will still get adequate blood from other arteries that aren’t involved in the procedure.

Uterine artery embolization is a way to shrink fibroids without using medications, which don’t always work, or invasive surgery. It can be performed in a hospital, with the patient only staying in the hospital for about a day. There are some risks involved, though. The procedure could cause an infection of the uterus, create scar tissue or damage other pelvic organs. Additionally, doctors are unsure of whether or not this procedure can adversely affect future pregnancies.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGEEK writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By powerpost45 — On Jan 27, 2014

Some fibroids shrink naturally or disappear over time. Doctors can also use ultrasound waves to break down the fibroids. Birth control pills, IUDs and medications that block production of estrogen and progesterone may also help shrink fibroid tumors. Uterine fibroid embolization shrinks fibroids by blocking the artery that supplies blood to them, but this is only an option for women who do not wish to bear children.

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGEEK writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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