Fibroids in the uterus can cause many problems for women. Uterine fibroids are not cancerous, but these tumors can hamper the daily activities of women, especially during the years preceding menopause. Fibroids are quite common but sometimes they have no symptoms. Some women, however, suffer from heavy bleeding during their menstrual periods and have increased pressure on the bowel and bladder. Hormone therapy and pain medication are the usual modes of treatment prescribed for uterine fibroids. Hysterectomy or surgically removing the uterus is also a conventional method of treatment. But now, new fibroid treatment options have been developed which are non-invasive and effective. Let’s take a closer look at uterine fibroids, causes, symptoms, conventional treatment and latest treatment option for fibroids:
Uterine fibroids: What are they?
These fibroids are noncancerous tumors which grow inside and on the wall of the uterus. They can be minute or bulky masses which can distort the shape of the uterus. Uterine fibroids are usually detected via ultrasound, MRI, laparoscopy or CT scans. Sometimes, fibroids which occur during pregnancy disappear on their own after pregnancy. Scientists are researching on the best treatment for fibroids so that fibroids can be treated more effectively.
Causes of fibroids
Age, genes, heredity, hormonal changes and environmental factors are the main causes of fibroids. Ethnic origin is also a cause and women having African origin are more prone to developing these fibroids. Obesity, red meat diet, early menstruation, deficiency of vitamin D and consuming alcohol are other causes.
Symptoms of fibroids
Some women have no symptoms at all. Heavy bleeding, pelvic pain or pressure, bleeding during regular periods, urinating frequently, backache, pain during intercourse, and leg pains are some symptoms. Women who experience these symptoms should definitely consult their physician, who might advise them about the best treatment for fibroids.
What is fibroid embolization?
The preferred methods of treatment for uterine fibroids are hysterectomy and fibroid embolization. Though fibroid embolization is not a new fibroid treatment option, it is one which very few women know about.
In this method, inert particles are released to block blood supply to the uterine fibroids. The fibroids shrink in a few months or weeks, as they are deprived of blood supply. The process takes about 2 hours and the patient are discharged the next day.
New fibroid treatment options
One of the latest treatment option for fibroids are oral drugs such as Ulipristal and Elagolix.
The Cleveland Hospital’s Gynaecology and Obstetrics have been researching on oral drugs to treat fibroids.
Elagolix, GnRH, an antagonist, shuts down the production of estrogen by especially targeting pituitary gland. This new uterine fibroid treatment has great potential, as reducing estrogen can shrink fibroids. According to the researchers, Elagolix could be an effective transitional therapy to help a woman get ready for more conservational treatment, such as surgery or expectant treatment.
The Cleveland researchers are also conducting a study about the effectiveness of the drug Ulipristal. This drug is already available over the counter (in higher dose) as a morning-after medicine in America. In Europe and Canada, Ulipristal is already being used to treat bleeding due to uterine fibroids. The drug works by controlling progesterone levels within the body.
High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)
In this treatment, fibroids are targeted by using ultrasound of high intensity, which is focused on the fibroids. This deprives the tumors/fibroids of blood supply, leading to them shrinking and dying. HIFU is a more refined method than embolization, in which the entire uterus is deprived of blood supply. Embolization does kill fibroids but it destroys some parts of the uterus too.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercises with a diet of vegetables and fruits can help to decrease the risk of fibroids. Any unexplained backaches, leg pain, fatigue, and heavy bleeding during menses should be looked at, and if fibroids are detected, women can now opt for new treatments which make removal of uterus unnecessary.