Uterine fibroids are growths of muscle tissue that form in the uterus. Most fibroids are not cancerous, but they can grow to be quite large - sometimes as large as a grapefruit or even larger. While researchers aren’t sure what causes fibroids, hormonal changes most likely play a significant role. Fibroid growth typically occurs during the childbearing years when hormonal fluctuations are more common, slowing or halting once a woman enters menopause and levels of estrogen decline. Sometimes, fibroids may grow during pregnancy, interfering with a woman’s ability to carry a pregnancy to term, and when fibroids are present during pregnancy, they will need to be monitored to ensure they don’t interfere with the baby’s growth or health.
Very small fibroids may cause no symptoms, but larger fibroids can cause symptoms like:
Contact Dr. Bozdogan about the possibility of uterine fibroids, if you have persistent pelvic pain throughout your cycle, or extremely heavy, painful, and prolonged menstrual bleeding. Difficulty with bladder functions and spotting between periods may also be indications of a uterine fibroid condition.
While the cause of uterine fibroids isn’t known, research suggests that hormones, genetic changes, or body growth factors may contribute to their development. It’s thought that fibroids develop from uterine stem cells. There are many growth patterns to fibroids. Some grow slowly while others advance quickly. A fibroid may remain the same size, or it may go through periodic spurts, and many shrink on their own.
You’re more at risk of developing fibroids if your mother or sister has them, or if you started menstruating at an early age. Use of birth control, obesity, and dietary factors may also increase your risk.
Fibroids that don’t cause symptoms may not require any treatment. Symptomatic fibroids may be treated using different approaches, including:
Each treatment offers different “pros and cons,” and treatment options will be reviewed following a physical examination to “narrow down” the choices.
In some women, fibroids can grow back. The likelihood of regrowth depends on several factors, including the method used to originally treat them.
In most cases, fibroids can be surgically removed using minimally-invasive techniques, including robot-assisted techniques using the state-of-the-art da Vinci surgical robot system. Minimally-invasive techniques use very small incisions, resulting in less bleeding and tissue damage as well as faster recovery. The da Vinci system is designed to work with the surgeon to achieve a very high degree of precision and accuracy for superior outcomes.