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What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas or myomas, are noncancerous growths that develop in the uterus, varying in size and number. These muscular tumors, prevalent among women of reproductive age, often go unnoticed due to their asymptomatic nature.

Uterine fibroids are a common cause of heavy uterine bleeding and pain in reproductive-age women and the most prevalent benign gynecologic tumor. They are responsible for almost half of all hysterectomies performed annually in the United States. Traditionally, surgeons have treated fibroids through removal by open abdominal surgery—either by hysterectomy, in which the entire uterus is removed, or by myomectomy, in which case the uterus remains and only the fibroids are removed.

Symptoms of uterine fibroids

  • Menstrual changes
  • Pelvic pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Backache
  • Reproductive issues
  • Abdominal swelling


What are the causes of uterine fibroids?

  • Hormonal factors: Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels.
  • Genetic predisposition: Family history or genetic factors.
  • Hormonal imbalance: Disruptions in hormonal balance.
  • Age and reproductive factors: Most common during reproductive years.
  • Dietary choices: High intake of red meat or ham may increase risk.
  • Obesity: Higher BMI associated with increased risk.
  • Ethnicity: Higher prevalence in certain ethnic groups.


Treatment options for uterine fibroids

Our team offers a multidisciplinary approach to provide the latest and most advanced treatment options for uterine fibroids, including minimally invasive surgical and radiologic procedures. St. Luke’s Health's highly experienced affiliated interventional radiologists and gynecologists are highly skilled and employ both open-incision surgical procedures as well as newer, more sophisticated laparoscopic and hysteroscopic procedures.

Treatment options for uterine fibroids include:

  • Medications: Hormonal birth control to manage symptoms.
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists: Reduce estrogen levels to shrink fibroids temporarily.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): For pain relief.
  • Surgery: Options like myomectomy (fibroid removal) or hysterectomy (uterus removal) for severe cases.
  • Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE): Blocking blood flow to fibroids to shrink them.
  • Focused ultrasound surgery (FUS): MRI-guided ultrasound to destroy fibroids.

Treatment choice depends on fibroid size, location, symptoms, and individual health factors. Schedule an appointment with a St. Luke's Health OB/GYN to find out more.

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