What Are the Treatments for Uterine Fibroids?

If you have uterine fibroids, you may or may not need treatment. It depends on whether they cause you any problems.

Not all fibroids grow. Even large ones may not cause any symptoms, and most shrink after menopause.

Still, you and your doctor should check on their growth, especially if you develop symptoms like bleeding or pain. So you should at least get pelvic exams every year.

Can I Try Home Remedies?

You can’t cure fibroids on your own. But you can do things that help you feel better. When fibroids grow on the outside of the uterus, you may become aware of a mass on your abdomen. You can lie down and put a hot pack or hot water bottle on your lower belly to ease the pain. You’d need to do this several times a day.

What Medicines Help?

You can take pain relievers, such as ibuprofen. But be sure to follow the instructions on the label so you don’t accidentally take too much. If you and your doctor decide you need to take something for your fibroids, you may want to consider these other options:

  • GnRH agonists. GnRH is a hormone your body naturally makes. An “agonist” medicine counters that hormone, and your doctor may prescribe one to shrink fibroids and reduce anemia. These drugs are expensive. You shouldn’t take them for more than 6 months because they can make you more likely to get osteoporosis, which makes your bones too frail. Your doctor may also prescribe a low dose of progestin, another hormone, to make osteoporosis less likely. (When you stop taking a GnRH agonist, your fibroids can grow back).
  • SERMs. SERMs are a type of medicine that works on your estrogen levels. (SERMs stands for selective estrogen receptor modulators.) They may be able to shrink fibroids without causing menopause symptoms. But researchers aren’t yet sure how well they work for this purpose.

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Will an IUD Help?

An IUD is a birth control device. Some also release the hormone progestin. It won’t shrink your fibroids. But it can control the bleeding and cramping that they cause.

What Procedures Might Work?

There are several possibilities that you and your doctor can consider.

  • Fibroid embolization can shrink a fibroid. Your doctor will inject polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) into the arteries that feed the fibroid. The PVA blocks the blood supply to the fibroid, which makes it shrink. It’s not surgery, but you may need to spend several nights in the hospital because you may have nausea, vomiting, and pain in the first few days afterward.
  • Endometrial ablation is a procedure in which doctors destroy the lining of uterus to cut down on the bleeding linked to small fibroids.
  • Myomectomy is a surgery to remove fibroids. If you plan to become pregnant, your doctor may recommend this over other procedures. But it may cause scarring that can lead to infertility. You’ll need to wait 4 to 6 months after surgery before you try to conceive. In most women, symptoms go away following a myomectomy. But in others, the fibroids come back. Whether it works will partly depend on how many fibroids you have and whether the surgeon could remove them all. A myomectomy may be abdominal surgery, or your surgeon may use a hysteroscope or laparoscope to remove the fibroids without having to make a large cut on your abdomen. There is also an experimental method that uses MRI-guided intense ultrasound energy to pinpoint the fibroids and shrink or destroy them.
  • Hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus. Many women don’t need treatment that’s this drastic. You won’t be able to get pregnant after this operation.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on September 27, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society.

Lebovic, D.  Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Scrubb Hill Press, 2005.

National Library of Medicine: "Uterine Fibroids."

FDA.gov.
 

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