Uterine fibroids are a very common, non-cancerous growth in the uterus. About two-thirds of Australian women are estimated to be impacted by uterine fibroids at some stage. Fibroids most commonly affect women in their 30s to 40s and tend to shrink in women who have passed menopause.It’s possible to have one or several fibroids, which can vary from a few mm to more than 20cm. Not all uterine fibroids need to be treated, but for those that do, there are many options available.
If you’re experiencing uterine fibroids, you, your GP and your gynaecologist may have already tried or considered simple measures like medical therapy, an IUD or ablation. While these treatments can help to relieve heavy periods, they do not shrink your fibroids.
If these treatments have failed to relieve symptoms, your doctor may have suggested a hysterectomy (removal of the entire uterus) or a myomectomy (removal of the fibroids).
However, there is a safe, effective and minimally invasive alternative for those seeking to avoid major surgery: uterine fibroid embolisation – also known as UFE.
Medical therapy treatments include nonsteroidal tranexamic acid, anti-inflammatory drugs, birth control pills, progesterone agents, and gonadotropic-releasing hormone agonists.
Mirena IUD is a small, T-shaped intrauterine device that releases progesterone.
Endometrial ablation uses heat energy to destroy the inner lining of the uterus. It is performed under general anaesthetic in an operating theatre.
Uterine Fibroid Embolisation
Uterine fibroid embolisation (UFE) is also known as uterine artery embolisation (UAE).
UFE is a safe, minimally invasive alternative to a hysterectomy. Shrinking fibroids, reducing heavy periods and relieving pain, the procedure has been shown to be as effective as a hysterectomy in improving overall quality of life.
Hysteroscopic resection removes fibroids via the cervix with the aid of an endoscope. It is suitable for small fibroids protruding into the cavity.
A myomectomy is a surgical operation to remove one or a few fibroids. A myomectomy is offered to women who wish to retain both their uterus and fertility.
A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. In the past, hysterectomies have been offered when conservative measures have failed. There are now effective alternatives to a hysterectomy.
MRgFUS stands for Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused Ultrasound. MRgFUS produces heat energy to cause cell death in fibroids. The process is monitored by MRI.
Can Fibroids Be Malignant?
Fibroids are a very common, non-cancerous growth in the uterus. Fibroids do not turn malignant. Though uterine fibroids can grow quite quickly, it does not mean they’re nasty.
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Do I Need Treatment?
Fibroids are very common, benign (non-cancerous) growth in the uterus. It is estimated that one in four women will have a fibroid in her lifetime. The majority of women who experience fibroids are not symptomatic and therefore do not need treatment. However, if fibroids are causing significant symptoms, treatment is needed.
If menstrual bleeding is heavy, especially if resulting in anaemia and iron deficiency, treatment is needed. If the other symptoms like period pain, bladder and pressure symptoms are affecting your quality of life, then treatment would be beneficial.
Please remember everyone is different. Thinner women may find fibroids more noticeable than larger women. Women with sensitive bladders may have bladder symptoms with average-sized uterine fibroids.
If you’re troubled by symptoms of uterine fibroids and simple measures have not been effective, UFE could be a viable option for you; especially if you wish to preserve your uterus, avoid major surgery and recover quickly.
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