Fibroid Treatment Options

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Dr. Piyush S. Goyal

Posted By : Dr. Piyush S. Goyal - MD (ObGyn), Diploma in Advanced Endoscopic Surgery(Germany)

Posted On : Oct 06, 2008 (Views : 19634)

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There's no single best approach to uterine fibroid treatment. Many treatment options exist. In most cases, the best action to take after discovering fibroids is simply to be aware they are there.


Watchful waiting

If you're like most women with uterine fibroids, you have no signs or symptoms. In your case, watchful waiting (expectant management) could be the best course. Fibroids aren't cancerous. They rarely interfere with pregnancy. They usually grow slowly and tend to shrink after menopause when levels of reproductive hormones drop. This is the best treatment option for a large majority of women with uterine fibroids.


Medications

Medications for uterine fibroids target hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, treating symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure. They don't eliminate fibroids, but may shrink them. Medications include:




  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists. To trigger a new menstrual cycle, a control center in your brain called the hypothalamus manufactures gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH). The substance travels to your pituitary gland, a tiny gland also located at the base of your brain, and sets in motion events that stimulate your ovaries to produce estrogen and progesterone.


    Medications called Gn-RH agonists (Lupron, Synarel, others) act at the same sites that Gn-RH does. But when taken as therapy, a Gn-RH agonist produces the opposite effect to that of your natural hormone. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall, menstruation stops, fibroids shrink and anemia often improves.




  • Androgens. Your ovaries and your adrenal glands, located above your kidneys, produce androgens, the so-called male hormones. Given as medical therapy, androgens can relieve fibroid symptoms.


    Danazol, a synthetic drug similar to testosterone, has been shown to shrink fibroid tumors, reduce uterine size, stop menstruation and correct anemia. However, occasional unpleasant side effects such as weight gain, dysphoria (feeling depressed, anxious or uneasy), acne, headaches, unwanted hair growth and a deeper voice, make many women reluctant to take this drug.



  • Other medications. Oral contraceptives or progestins can help control menstrual bleeding, but they don't reduce fibroid size. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are not hormonal medications, are effective for heavy vaginal bleeding unrelated to fibroids, but they don't reduce bleeding caused by fibroids.


Hysterectomy

This operation — the removal of the uterus — remains the only proven permanent solution for uterine fibroids. But hysterectomy is major surgery. It ends your ability to bear children, and if you elect to have your ovaries removed also, it brings on menopause and the question of whether you'll take hormone replacement therapy.


Myomectomy

In this surgical procedure, your surgeon removes the fibroids, leaving the uterus in place. If you want to bear children, you might choose this option. With myomectomy, as opposed to a hysterectomy, there is a risk of fibroid recurrence. There are several ways a myomectomy can be done:



  • Abdominal myomectomy. If you have multiple fibroids, very large or very deep fibroids, your doctor may use an open abdominal surgical procedure to remove the fibroids.

  • Laparoscopic myomectomy. If the fibroids are small and few in number, you and your doctor may opt for a laparoscopic procedure, which uses slender instruments inserted through small incisions in your abdomen to remove the fibroids from your uterus. Your doctor views your abdominal area on a remote monitor via a small camera attached to one of the instruments.

  • Hysteroscopic myomectomy. This procedure may be an option if the fibroids are contained inside the uterus (submucosal). A long, slender scope (hysteroscope) is passed through your vagina and cervix and into your uterus. Your doctor can see and remove the fibroids through the scope. This procedure is best performed by a doctor experienced in this technique.


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