Your uterus — a small but flexible muscular organ where a developing child gestates until they come into the world — is vital for childbirth. This hollow, pear-shaped organ prepares itself for getting pregnant about 500 times over the course of your reproductive life, makes sex more pleasurable, and creates a whole new organ while you're pregnant to feed your unborn child (the placenta).
There are women born without a uterus, and it’s even possible to have two, a condition known as uterus didelphys. There are several conditions that affect your uterus and other reproductive organs, and uterine fibroids are a common one that you may not even know you have.
If you’re dealing with uterine fibroids or other reproductive issues, our team of specialists at Michigan Avenue Primary Care in Chicago, Illinois, can help with those and many other women’s health issues.
To find out what you should do next if you have fibroids, let’s examine what they are, their causes and symptoms, and how they’re treated.
Fibroids are growths that develop in your uterus. While generally benign, or noncancerous, fibroids can get larger and lead to pain and other symptoms. Also referred to as fibromas, myomas, leiomyomas, and uterine myomas, these growths come in different types:
While the actual cause is still not entirely understood, hormones are known to play a role in fibroid development, for instance, high levels of estrogen and progesterone that occur during pregnancy can lead to their growth.
Other factors that increase your risk of fibroids include obesity, family history, not having kids, late age menopause, and early onset of menstruation. Transitioning out of reproduction, such as during menopause, reduces hormones and decreases your risk of fibroids.
While many cases of fibroids are small enough that you may not even notice them, common signs of these growths include excessive and painful bleeding during menstruation, intermenstrual bleeding (bleeding between cycles), frequent urination, low back pain, and painful sex.
Treating fibroids is a process that varies from person to person and can employ noninvasive and invasive methods.
Since many cases of fibroids show no symptoms or only mild ones, watchful waiting is an option that can be used until something changes. Several medications can be prescribed to target hormones to reduce fibroids, and a noninvasive procedure known as focused ultrasound surgery (FUS) can treat the condition without harm to your uterus.
Many procedures are minimally invasive, including uterine artery embolization, radiofrequency ablation, endometrial ablation, laparoscopic or robotic myomectomy, and hysteroscopic myomectomy, which use small incisions and have short recovery.
Traditional procedures like abdominal myomectomy and hysterectomy are open surgeries, but with the former, scarring can reduce your chances of pregnancy in the future and the latter eliminates any possibility of having children.
Uterine fibroids can be a minor nuisance or a major source of pain, but regardless of which you’re coping with, we can help. Make an appointment with our team at Michigan Avenue Primary Care today to get the help you need. Call our office or schedule your visit online anytime.