Uterine fibroids are usually benign (non-cancerous) growths in the muscle tissue of the uterus. They usually appear during a woman’s childbearing years and can be so small as to go unnoticed, but they can also grow so large that they stretch out the uterus and cause significant discomfort, from pelvic pain to backaches and even leg pain or abnormal bleeding. Some fibroids may require no treatment, but when painful or unpleasant symptoms develop, the experienced team of gynecologists at Premier Women’s Care of Southwest Florida can help. We can prescribe medications to shrink fibroids or halt their growth, and in more severe cases we can surgically remove them.
Symptoms of fibroids
Also called leiomyomas or myomas, fibroids can vary greatly in size, shape and location – appearing inside the uterus, on its outer surface or within the uterine wall, or even attached to it by a stem-like structure. A woman may have a single fibroid or many of various sizes. A fibroid may remain very small for a long time and suddenly undergo rapid growth, or it may grow gradually.
Eventually, fibroids can cause:
- Heavy and long-lasting menstrual periods
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- Frequent urination
- Constipation and bloating
Severe pain is not common, but when a fibroid outgrows its blood supply, its tissue will start to die. If this happens you could feel intense pain. In such cases, call your doctor for evaluation.
Diagnosis and treatment of fibroids
Your Premier Women’s Care of Southwest Florida provider will review your symptoms and perform a comprehensive pelvic exam to detect the presence of fibroids. An ultrasound may be required to confirm the diagnosis and to capture their size, location, and number.
Women whose fibroids do not cause any symptoms do not need treatment. However, in some circumstances, your Premier physician may recommend periodic ultrasounds to monitor potential growth. Fibroids often shrink on their own without treatment as hormone levels change during menopause.
If your fibroids are causing pain, our doctors can prescribe medications to relieve pelvic pressure and reduce bleeding. Although medications cannot eliminate fibroids, they can sometimes shrink them or stop their growth. There are many classes of medications that can be used.
For women with exceptionally large fibroids, surgery may be the only option for relief. The skilled team of gynecological surgeons at Premier Women’s Care of Southwest Florida can remove the fibroid or fibroids either by myomectomy or hysterectomy. A myomectomy takes only the fibroid and leaves the healthy tissue of the uterus. It is therefore a good option for women who want to have children after treatment, as they can still become pregnant after a myomectomy. In more severe cases, we can perform a hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus, often using minimally invasive surgery. A hysterectomy, which sometimes also involves removal of the ovaries, leaves a woman unable to have children, but will ensure that no more fibroids will grow.
To learn more about uterine fibroids and treatment, you can request a new patient appointment online. If you are already an established patient, you can book online through the patient portal. Or you can always call (239) 432-5858 to schedule a consultation with one of Premier Women’s Care of Southwest Florida’s women’s health-care providers in Fort Myers, Cape Coral or Lehigh Acres.