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help and hope for pelvic pain

Uterine Fibroids

If you're living with pain, pressure or abnormal bleeding caused by uterine fibroids, we can help you feel well again.

Fibroids are benign (non-cancer) growths of the uterus, or womb, that are made of muscle cells and other tissues. Fibroids are fed by nutrient-rich blood from the uterine arteries and grow over time, though they become smaller after a woman stops having periods (menopause). The cause of fibroids is unknown.

Risk Factors for uterine fibroids

These factors may increase your chances of developing uterine fibroids:

  • Race - African-American women are more likely to develop uterine fibroids than women of other races.
  • Age - Women between 40 to 50 years old have a greater likelihood of getting fibroids.
  • Weight - Overweight or obese women are at higher risk of fibroids.

Symptoms of fibroids

Most women with fibroids do not have any symptoms. Fibroids can cause problems by pressing against structures in the belly and pelvis, including the uterus itself, urinary bladder, rectum, nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. Fibroids can also bleed. If you do have symptoms caused by fibroids, they may include:

  • Heavy or painful periods
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Feeling "full" in the lower belly
  • "Lumpy-bumpy" expansion of the belly, sometimes as much as a full-term pregnancy
  • Urinating often or frequently feeling like you have to urinate
  • Pain during sex
  • Lower back pain or pelvic pain
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty getting pregnant, multiple miscarriages, or early labor
  • Problems caused by low blood iron levels (anemia), including felling tired, pale skin, cool hands and feet, dizziness, headache, and shortness of breath.

How do I know if I have fibroids?

Your doctor may find fibroids during a physical exam or by using imaging tests like a sonogram or MRI.

Do I need treatment for my uterine fibroids?

You may not need to be treated since most fibroids stop growing or even shrink over time. We call this "watchful waiting." With "watchful waiting" your doctor will closely monitor your symptoms and perform regular exams and tests to make sure the fibroids are not becoming more of a problem. Problems like pain and low blood iron can often be managed with medications. If the fibroids grow, cause more problems, or if you simply do not want to wait, treatment is an option.

Treatments we offer

A uterine fibroid expert will work closely with you to choose a treatment plan designed for your special needs. Your treatment plan may include medications that can slow or stop fibroid growth. The treatment you choose will depend on:

  • Your overall health
  • How much of your uterus is replaced by fibroids
  • The type and location of your fibroids
  • Your preference and opinion
  • Your expectations
  • Your future plans for pregnancy

We offer these minimally-invasive options to eliminate the non-cancerous growths:

Laparoscopic or robotic myomectomy

If you are considering having children in the future, laparoscopic or robotic myomectomy may be the best option for removing your uterine fibroids. The procedure eliminates the growths while preserving the uterus and fertility.

Myomectomy can completely remove a fibroid and recreate a smooth endometrial lining, which is the inner lining of the uterus. A smooth endometrial lining is ideal for fertility.

Laparoscopic and robotic myomectomy involve making small incisions to locate and remove fibroids with help from a camera. The approaches are preferred by women over traditional open surgery where a much larger incision is made. Reduced pain and short recovery time are some benefits of having myomectomy performed laparoscopically or with robotic surgical equipment.

Vaginal, laparoscopic or robotic hysterectomy

If you want to be 100 percent certain you will no longer suffer from uterine fibroids, a hysterectomy with full removal of the uterus may be the answer.

You may be even a candidate for vaginal, laparoscopic or robotic hysterectomy, all less invasive procedures than a traditional abdominal hysterectomy. Some benefits of the less invasive options include less blood loss, pain and scarring; a shorter hospital stay; fewer complications; and a faster return to normal activities.

Uterine fibroid embolization

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally-invasive, nonsurgical procedure to slow blood flow to the fibroids. UFE is a safe, proven and effective treatment performed by an interventional radiologist. Patients who choose UFE often experience a shorter procedure and hospital stay, a quicker recovery and no visible scars on the belly.

If you would like to meet with an interventional radiologist to discuss UFE, call the Interventional Radiology department at (608) 775-2770.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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