Uterine fibroids are far more common than many women realize. The Office on Women’s Health says as many as 80% of women will have at least one fibroid during their lifetimes, although many of those fibroids won’t cause any noticeable symptoms.
At Serrano Ob/Gyn Associates, Christopher V. Serrano, MD, uses state-of-the-art techniques to diagnose and treat uterine fibroids in patients at his San Antonio, Texas, practice. In this post, learn about what symptoms fibroids can cause, along with when to seek treatment.
Basic facts about uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that form in the walls of your uterus. Although researchers don’t know why fibroids form, they believe it’s probably due to a combination of hormones and genetic risk factors that make you more likely to develop fibroids.
Fibroids tend to grow during a woman’s reproductive years and shrink once a woman reaches menopause. Fibroids may also grow larger during pregnancy when levels of estrogen and progesterone are elevated.
Most fibroids are noncancerous (benign) and can range in size from very small to as big as a grapefruit or even larger. Fortunately, fibroids typically are benign (noncancerous), but they can still cause an array of symptoms, including:
- Heavy or abnormal periods
- Painful periods
- Feeling of fullness or bloating in the lower belly
- Painful sex
- Frequent urination
- Problems emptying your bladder
- Pain in the lower back or belly
While fibroids rarely cause infertility, they can cause complications during pregnancy and delivery that can increase the likelihood of needing a cesarean section.
When fibroids need treatment
Many fibroids cause no symptoms, and they’re so small that they’re only detected during a pelvic exam or imaging tests for other conditions. In these instances, fibroids usually don’t require any treatment, although we may recommend watching them and monitoring them for future growth.
Even symptomatic fibroids don’t always require treatment. Typically, the decision to initiate treatment is based on several factors, like:
- Severity of your symptoms
- Number and size of fibroids
- Impact on your quality of life
- Future pregnancy plans
- How close you are to menopause
- Growth rate of your fibroids
If we think you may be at risk of complications, like twisting or torsion of your fibroids or your uterus, we recommend intervention, as well.
Many women find their fibroid symptoms can be managed with hormone medications that help shrink fibroids or prevent future growth. Minimally invasive treatments focus on blocking the blood vessels that supply nutrients to fibroids, essentially “starving” them so they shrink.
Fibroids may also be removed surgically in some cases, or we may recommend endometrial ablation or hysterectomy for women with severe symptoms who don’t plan to have children in the future.
Learn more about fibroid management
If you have uterine fibroids or are experiencing symptoms, we can help. To learn more, call 210-761-5308 or book an appointment online with Dr. Serrano and his team today.