Fibroids are benign (noncancerous) growths in the smooth muscle tissue of the walls of the uterus, or womb. They can be as small as a pea or grow larger than a grapefruit.
Fibroids are extremely common: by age 50, approximately 80% of African-American women and approximately 70% of Caucasian women will have had fibroids.1
Although fibroids often do not cause symptoms, depending on their size, number and location, fibroids can lead to more serious symptoms including:
Anemia due to chronic excessive bleeding
Pain or pressure in the abdomen or lower back
Pain during sex
Difficulty urinating, frequent urination or constipation
Infertility (the inability to have children)
Fibroids can be treated in several ways:
Medication: Medication can be a stand-alone treatment or used to help shrink the fibroids in preparation for surgical removal. However, medication doesn’t work for everyone. Fibroids can return soon after the treatment ends, and certain medications may produce symptoms of early menopause, also known as perimenopause.
Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE): This treatment method blocks the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink. UAE can have positive, short-term results for some patients; however, the effects of UAE on future pregnancies are unknown.
Myomectomy: This surgical procedure removes fibroids, while leaving the uterus intact. Women treated with myomectomy may still be able to have children after the surgery; however, it is possible for fibroids to return.
Types of Myomectomy:
Open Abdominal: Also known as traditional myomectomy, the fibroid is removed through a long, open incision in the abdomen.
Minimally Invasive Options: Less invasive options offer quicker recovery times and less scarring than traditional myomectomy:
Laparoscopic: a small scope is inserted through a tiny incision in the abdomen to remove the fibroid
Hysteroscopic: a small scope is inserted into the uterus via the vagina and cervix to remove the fibroid
Hysterectomy: This procedure involves removing the uterus, or womb. Your doctor may also remove the fallopian tubes and/or ovaries during the same surgery.
Hysterectomy is the only complete treatment method for fibroids, however, as a major surgery, it should only be considered after all other options have been explored. Explore your hysterectomy options  to learn about less invasive treatments available with shorter recovery times.
|1.||Day Baird D, et al. High cumulative incidence of uterine leiomyoma in black and white women: Ultrasound evidence. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003;188(1):100-107.|