Uterine fibroids can develop in about 80 percent of women throughout the course of their lifetime. These fibroids often grow spontaneously without warning, and for some women the fibroids cause life-affecting symptoms that require medical treatment. When diagnosed with any medical condition, it is important to understand your treatment options fully in order to help you make informed choices about your health. If you have been diagnosed with fibroids, there are several treatment options available that can relieve symptoms and restore you to full health.
What are These Growths?
Uterine Fibroids are typically non-cancerous growths or tumors that are located in the walls of the uterus. These fibroids can cause both painful and discomforting symptoms. Symptoms such as pelvic pain and prolonged vaginal bleeding often lead women to seek treatment for the fibroid removal.
Treatment for Fibroids
There are a range of options available for the treatment of fibroids. Small fibroids (smaller than a dime) are typically not a major health concern nor do they tend to cause symptoms that are severe enough to seek treatment. As a result of the benign nature of these small fibroids, they are often not treated but rather simply monitored by a physician for continued growth. For larger fibroids that are causing pain, heavy bleeding or are pushing against other internal organs, there are medications and surgical options available that may shrink or eliminate the fibroids and their resulting unpleasant symptoms.
Medications available for fibroids are designed to shrink their growth temporarily and are not always considered a long-term or permanent treatment. The advantage of medication is that it is the least invasive approach and can alleviate many uterine fibroid symptoms; the disadvantages include some unpleasant side effects and, oftentimes, the fibroid tumors will grow back once the medications are discontinued. As a result, medications are generally considered a short-term solution to relieve fibroid symptoms temporarily while the patient waits for uterine fibroid removal.
Removing uterine fibroids can be done in a variety of ways depending upon the size, number, and location of the tumors. Some fibroids require invasive surgery to completely extract the tumors from the womb. The advantages of fibroid removal surgery (myomectomy) are complete extraction and relief from the unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms of fibroid tumors. However, not all fibroids can be removed in this manner and in some cases, the entire uterus may be removed (hysterectomy). If a patient undergoes fibroid removal surgery, she will require a two to six week recovery period after the procedure.
In some cases, a woman can opt for a less invasive uterine fibroid treatment. The Acessa procedure is one such option. The Acessa System uses equipment that has received FDA clearance to treat uterine fibroid tumors. This method of fibroid treatment is designed to destroy the fibroids without damaging surrounding tissue. The advantages of the Acessa procedure are that it is less invasive than conventional fibroid surgery and is a same-day outpatient procedure with a shorter (3-5 days) recovery time.
Although very common in most women, fibroid tumors can affect one’s health and cause painful symptoms that interact negatively with one’s quality of life. The good news is that fibroid tumors are easily treated with numerous effective options. As such, these tumors do not have to remain a nuisance to a woman’s overall health and feelings of well-being.