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What Happens to Untreated Fibroids?

Posted on June 25, 2024

Fibroids, or non-cancerous uterine tumors, are a common problem. In fact, they impact as many as 80% of women by the time they turn 50. Now, some women may never know that they have fibroids, while others may experience intrusive symptoms such as heavy bleeding; back or pelvic pain; and more. In some cases, a woman will only develop one tumor, though other women may have multiple fibroids, ranging in size from almost invisible to as large as a grapefruit.

Given the range of different experiences, some women decide to treat their tumors, but other women prefer to watch their tumors and wait to see if intervention will truly be necessary. So, what happens to untreated fibroids? Here’s what you need to know.

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Untreated Fibroids: What Makes Tumors Grow?

If you delay or avoid fibroid treatment, there are a variety of possible outcomes. In some cases, your tumors may remain unchanged. But, for other women, tumors may continue to grow in size or number, triggering new symptoms or worsening existing concerns. Why is that the case?

Well, we don’t know exactly why fibroids develop in the first place. But we do know that there’s a link between fibroid growth and your body’s levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. As such, when these hormone levels fall on their own—which happens at certain times of your life, such as when you enter menopause—your fibroids may stop growing on their own. Even without treatment.

However, at other times of your life, untreated fibroids may continue increasing in size. And, while having fibroids is not usually a dangerous condition, larger tumors are harder to treat. Additionally, when fibroids increase in size and number, minimally invasive treatment options such as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) may be less effective, leaving surgery as your best option if you eventually decide to seek treatment.

Do Untreated Fibroids Pose a Health Risk?

Even without treatment, fibroids are unlikely to pose a major risk to your general health. However, larger fibroids can lead to worse symptoms—including heavy bleeding. In turn, you increase your risk for conditions such as anemia. And, for that reason, many women prefer to seek fibroid treatment shortly after receiving a diagnosis, even if they have very few or very small uterine tumors.

Exploring Fibroid Treatment Options in Houston

When it comes to treating fibroids, you have options. As we mentioned, some women prefer the ‘watch and wait’ approach, monitoring fibroid growth to avoid problems without seeking further intervention. Other women may manage their fibroid symptoms with hormonal birth control. (While effective at reducing concerns such as heavy periods, it’s important to choose your form of birth control carefully, since some hormonal options could actually trigger fibroid growth.) Still others will seek minimally invasive procedures, such as UFE, that reduce fibroid size by limiting blood flow to the tumors. And still others will choose more invasive options, such as myomectomy surgery to remove individual fibroids, or even hysterectomy, a procedure that treats your tumors by surgically removing your uterus.

Not sure whether you should live with untreated fibroids or seek medical intervention to address your tumors? We’re here to help! Request a consultation with our Houston Fibroids experts, and we can help you understand your options, while reviewing your candidacy for UFE.

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