If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids, here’s the truth: you may experience side effects like heavy periods, pelvic pain and constipation. You may have difficulties becoming pregnant, or carrying a pregnancy to term. You will certainly want to talk to your doctors about all the treatment options that are available to you. Those are the facts. Now, here are the fictions that you need to dismiss:
MYTH #1: Untreated Fibroids Will Keep On Growing
Some fibroids, if left alone, will keep on growing. In fact, some women who have delayed fibroid treatment ended up with fibroids the size of a nine-month-old fetus. But that is not always the case. Many women with fibroids will not even realize it, because their tumors are tiny, stable in size, and cause no symptoms. Other fibroids may grow to a certain point and then stop growing altogether. And, on rare occasions, some fibroids will rupture, creating a medical emergency.
But here’s the tricky part: it’s hard to know what kind of growth pattern your fibroid will follow. For that reason, even if you decide to delay treatment, you will want to see your doctor regularly to monitor tumor development.
MYTH #2: Fibroids must be removed.
Fibroids that aren’t causing symptoms may not require any form of treatment, especially if you’ve completed your family or have no interest in becoming pregnant. If your fibroids are causing symptoms like heavy bleeding, severe pain or fertility problems, you’ll likely want to seek treatment, but surgeries like myomectomies (removal of the fibroid) or hysterectomies (removal of the uterus) are not your only options.
If you’ve decided to treat your fibroids, you may be able to undergo Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), a minimally invasive treatment option that shrinks your fibroids over time by blocking the blood flow to them. Not everyone is a candidate, but if you are looking for a treatment option with little down time and no hospital stays, it’s worth exploring with your interventional radiologist.
MYTH #3: Taking medication can make fibroids disappear.
Nonsurgical fibroid treatments, like UFE, are sometimes an option. And some other treatment options, like progesterone-based pills or shots, or certain birth controls, can lessen fibroid symptoms like heavy bleeding. Some drugs may even help shrink your fibroids over time, but the benefits will disappear as soon as you get off the meds. Additionally, several fibroid medications have recently been connected to other, more serious, health complications
MYTH #4: Menopause Cures Fibroids
While many women will experience relief from fibroids after the onset of menopause, that’s not the case for everyone. In fact, if you decide to undergo hormone replacement therapy to manage menopause symptoms, you may even see new fibroid development!
Postmenopausal women can still require treatment for fibroids. And for many of these women, who have completed their families, a nonsurgical approach like UFE will be the ideal treatment option.
If you are facing a fibroid diagnosis, don’t listen to the myths or rumors. Speak to your doctor about all the treatment options available, and make an informed decision based on the facts alone.