In many cases, uterine fibroids are found during a routine pelvic exam. When your doctor does an internal exam to feel the organs of the lower pelvis, they can feel irregularities in the uterus that alert them to the presence of fibroids.
If fibroids have not been detected during a physical exam but you have symptoms, the primary tests your doctor will order may include:
In addition, your doctor might order one or more of the following tests:
In many cases, there is no need for treatment. However, if fibroids are causing pain or discomfort, heavy menstrual bleeding, or other disruptions to your quality of life, you have a number of options.
Your treatment options depend on the size, location, and number of fibroids you have. Your doctor will consider the severity of your symptoms, your age, and your medical history, as well as your reproductive goals, when deciding on a treatment. Treatment for uterine fibroids may include medication, particularly if your symptoms are mild. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relief medication to relieve discomfort during your menstrual period.
If your symptoms are interfering with your life, your doctor may prescribe birth control pills or recommend a hormone-releasing intrauterine device (IUD) to regulate your hormone levels and decrease symptoms. Medications called gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists can also be used to shrink uterine fibroids.
If you need treatment beyond medication, there are a number of minimally invasive procedures that can be done, including:
In some instances, when fibroids are severe, more traditional surgery is required. There are two options here. An abdominal myomectomy is surgery to remove uterine fibroids. Surgeons take out the fibroids in the uterus but leave the uterus intact. If a woman is done having children, her surgeon may suggest a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the entire uterus) instead.
When preparing for your initial diagnostic appointment with your doctor, be prepared to discuss your symptoms and medical history and to ask any questions you have. You should also be ready to undergo a pelvic exam.
When preparing for the treatment of your fibroids, you will meet with your doctor and care team, who will ensure you know what to expect and what to do to ahead of your procedure. Some general tips include:
Your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you and help you select the most appropriate treatment for your personal situation.
Your recovery from fibroid treatment will depend on a number of factors, including your age, level of health, severity of your fibroids, and the method of removal. The less invasive the treatment is, the quicker the recovery.
Minimally invasive treatments are done on an outpatient basis. This means you will be discharged the same day of the surgery and will have a shorter recovery time than you would with a more invasive procedure. Often, you can return to work and other regular activities within three to five days.
With a laparoscopic myomectomy, you will need to fast and will be put under general anesthesia. You will also be in the hospital overnight, and full recovery will take two to four weeks, although you will be able to return to work as soon as you feel up to it.
With an abdominal myomectomy, you will also need to fast and be under general anesthesia. Because this is an invasive procedure, you will stay in the hospital for up to four days after the surgery. Full recovery takes four to six weeks.
In most cases, once fibroids have been removed, there is relief from the symptoms associated with them. In addition, many women experience increased fertility.
It is extraordinarily rare that uterine fibroids are cause for concern. However, they can lead to heavy periods, which can cause anemia to develop. There is also a rare chance that uterine fibroids could cause infertility or preterm delivery during pregnancy.
In addition, uterine fibroids are sometimes removed using morcellation, which involves breaking down the fibroid tissue into smaller pieces for easier removal. If there is any cancerous mass present that is also broken into pieces, there could be a risk of spreading the cancer.
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare