Severe Uterine Fibroids

Overview of Severe Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. They are sometimes called leiomyomas or myomas, and can cause severe symptoms such as pelvic pain, heavy menstrual periods, infertility, and urinary and bowel problems.

Fibroids are not cancerous, but they can cause significant pain and discomfort. They can also lead to long-term health issues, including an increased risk of pelvic organ prolapse, which is when the pelvic organs, such as the bladder and rectum, move down into the vagina.

Symptoms of Severe Uterine Fibroids

Severe uterine fibroids may cause the following symptoms:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding, with periods lasting more than 7 days.
  • Painful periods.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Painful bowel movements.
  • Back pain.
  • Infertility.

Other symptoms may include a feeling of fullness in the abdomen, difficulty emptying the bladder, and constipation.

Causes of Severe Uterine Fibroids

The cause of severe uterine fibroids is not known. It is thought to be related to high levels of hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, that are produced during the reproductive years. Factors such as genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle may also play a role.

Diagnosis of Severe Uterine Fibroids

A doctor can diagnose severe uterine fibroids with a physical exam, an ultrasound (sonogram), and a pelvic exam.

  • The physical examination will check for any swelling in the pelvic area and any pain.
  • The ultrasound will look for any fibroids or growths in the uterus.
  • The pelvic exam will help the doctor feel for any lumps or changes in the tissue of the uterus.

If necessary, further tests may be necessary to determine the size, location, and exact nature of the fibroid tumors.

Treatment of Severe Uterine Fibroids

Treatment of severe uterine fibroids depends on the size and location of the fibroids and the symptoms they are causing. Treatment options include:

  • Medication to reduce menstrual bleeding and pain. These may include over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and hormonal medications.
  • Uterine artery embolization or radiofrequency ablation to shrink or destroy the fibroids.
  • Hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus.
  • Surgical removal of the fibroids, which is a more invasive procedure.

Your doctor can help you decide which treatment option is best for you.