Any health diagnosis can make a woman anxious. However, some conditions, such as uterine fibroids, are widespread and often do not cause any health complications. Depending on symptom severity, many women don’t need invasive treatment for uterine fibroids. Though there are some risks to be aware of, many women are also still able to get pregnant and start a family.
Many women develop uterine fibroids at some point. These noncancerous growths often cause no symptoms. However, in some severe cases, untreated fibroids can cause some health problems. One common complication of untreated fibroids is anemia from excessive blood loss.
Often, fibroids don’t cause any symptoms at all. In other cases, the symptoms are so subtle that women don’t seek treatment. Some signs include:
Women should talk to a doctor right away if pelvic pain is worsening or if menstrual periods are severe and long-lasting. Many of these symptoms can be indicative of a variety of conditions, and a healthcare provider can provide a diagnosis and treatment plan.
About 20-80% of women develop fibroids by the age of 50, with 30% of these women developing fibroids between the ages of 25-44. This means that a large number of women are diagnosed with fibroids during childbearing years. Most of the time, uterine fibroids do not interfere with a woman’s ability to get pregnant. But in 10-30% of cases, some women will experience fertility challenges or pregnancy complications.
The most substantial complication of pregnancy with fibroids is pain. Having these growths while pregnant can also cause some pregnancy risks such as preterm delivery, placental abruption, and fetal growth restrictions. Experts have also found that the most significant effect of fibroids on pregnancy is a miscarriage. To prevent these complications, women can opt to have fibroids treated prior to pregnancy.
In some cases, watchful waiting may be the best treatment approach. In other cases, women may take medications to regulate hormones and decrease symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain. If needed, women may also opt to have fibroids removed through a surgical procedure. Surgery options can range from MRI-guided ultrasound surgery to minimally invasive endometrial ablation to a procedure called a myomectomy.
Treatment for uterine fibroids will vary on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, a woman will not need any invasive treatment at all and can still live a healthy life with uterine fibroids. Women should speak with an OB/GYN or reproductive endocrinologist to find out more about what treatments are available on an individual basis.