Uterine Fibroids: Do I Need Treatment?
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that develop in the uterus. “It’s a tumor in the sense that it’s a growth, but it’s not cancerous, and we always try to make sure people understand that,” explains Jon Sullivan MD, of TriHealth Women’s Services Northeast.”
- Related: Do I Have Uterine Fibroids?
It Depends: Are You Symptomatic?
When it comes to determining if you should seek treatment, Dr. Sullivan says it depends on if you have symptoms and how much these symptoms are affecting your life. “The vast majority of women who have fibroids, they live with them and don’t have treatment, but they’re not having any problems,” he points out.
Fibroids often shrink and cause no symptoms in women who have gone through menopause.
Uterine Fibroids: Determining the Best Treatment Option
Treating uterine fibroids depends on several factors, including:
- Your age
- Your general health
- The severity of your symptoms
- The type of fibroids
- Whether you are pregnant
- If you want children in the future (learn more about how uterine fibroids can affect reproductive ability)
Sometimes, symptoms can be treated without surgery and may include:
- Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) to help control heavy periods
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs) that release the hormone progestin to help reduce heavy bleeding and pain
- Iron supplements to prevent or treat anemia due to heavy periods
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naprosyn for cramps or pain
- Short-term hormonal therapy injections to help shrink the fibroids
"Fibroids are estrogen-dependent," Dr. Sullivan explains. "So, if we can fake out your body and make you pretend you're in menopause, that could actually help, in some cases, shrink a fibroid. We use a medication called Lupron for that.
Myomectomy: Preserving Reproductive Ability
If you are asymptomatic with uterine fibroids, but still want to have children, your doctor may recommend having a myomectomy procedure. This procedure involves removing the uterine fibroids, while still leaving the uterus in place.
Last Updated: November 18, 2013