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Uterine fibroids

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:50 pm
Uterine fibroids (FYE-broids) are benign growths found in the uterus, usually found in women over 35. About 30 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime, though most will have no symptoms, and need no treatment. Fibroids can range from the size of a pea to a grapefruit, or bigger. They may stay the same size, grow slowly, or grow in spurts. Depending on their position, they can press against neighboring organs like the intestines or bladder, producing constipation or urinary problems. It's not uncommon to have heavier menstrual bleeding, or spotting between periods. When large, fibroids can result in pelvic pressure and enlargement of the abdomen. Fast-growing fibroids may cause sudden, severe pain, but this usually goes away on its own, as part of the fibroid dies off. Treatment depends on the size, location, symptoms, and the woman's plans to have children. There are several ways to remove a fibroid and repair the uterus. To stop bleeding, doctors may do a scraping procedure called endometrial ablation (en-do-MEE-tree-ul uh-BLAY-shun). Medications can temporarily shrink fibroids, but will not cure them. A hysterectomy should only be considered as a last resort. If you have fibroids, it's advisable to get a pelvic exam every three to six months, so they can be monitored. For more information on uterine fibroids, consult a health care professional.
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