Uterine Fibroid

A uterine fibroid is a growth (tumor) that occurs in a woman's uterus. This type of tumor is not cancerous and does not spread out of the uterus. A woman can have one or many fibroids, and the fiboid(s) can become quite large. A fibroid can vary in size, weight, and where it grows in the uterus. Most fibroids do not require medical treatment, but some can cause pain or heavy bleeding during and between periods.

CAUSES

A fibroid is the result of a single uterine cell that keeps growing (unregulated), which is different than most cells in the human body. Most cells have a control mechanism that keeps them from reproducing without control.

SYMPTOMS

  • Bleeding.

  • Pelvic pain and pressure.

  • Bladder problems due to the size of the fibroid.

  • Infertility and miscarriages depending on the size and location of the fibroid.

DIAGNOSIS

A diagnosis is made by physical exam. Your caregiver may feel the lumpy tumors during a pelvic exam. Important information regarding size, location, and number of tumors can be gained by having an ultrasound. It is rare that other tests, such as a CT scan or MRI, are needed.

TREATMENT

  • Your caregiver may recommend watchful waiting. This involves getting the fibroid checked by your caregiver to see if the fibroids grow or shrink.  

  • Hormonal treatment or an intrauterine device (IUD) may be prescribed.  

  • Surgery may be needed to remove the fibroids (myomectomy) or the uterus (hysterectomy). This depends on your situation.

When fibroids interfere with fertility and a woman wants to become pregnant, a caregiver may recommend having the fibroids removed.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

Home care depends on how you were treated. In general:

  • Keep all follow-up appointments with your caregiver.  

  • Only take medicine as told by your caregiver. Do not take aspirin. It can cause bleeding.  

  • If you have excessive periods and soak tampons or pads in a half hour or less, contact your caregiver immediately. If your periods are troublesome but not so heavy, lie down with your feet raised slightly above your heart. Place cold packs on your lower abdomen.  

  • If your periods are heavy, write down the number of pads or tampons you use per month. Bring this information to your caregiver.  

  • Talk to your caregiver about taking iron pills.   

  • Include green vegetables in your diet.  

  • If you were prescribed a hormonal treatment, take the hormonal medicines as directed.  

  • If you need surgery, ask your caregiver for information on your specific surgery.  

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have pelvic pain or cramps not controlled with medicines.  

  • You have a sudden increase in pelvic pain.  

  • You have an increase of bleeding between and during periods.  

  • You feel lightheaded or have fainting episodes.  

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.