Minimally Invasive Uterine Fibroid Treatment Options
Uterine fibroids are one of the most common noncancerous tumors affecting women’s reproductive health. As the first stand-alone ambulatory surgical center focused on reproductive surgery in New York, Manhattan Reproductive Surgery Center (MRSC) offers state-of-the-art procedures from some of the nation’s most skilled surgeons. We treat uterine fibroids with minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures. If you’ve been experiencing abnormal bleeding, pain, or pressure in your uterus, we suggest scheduling an appointment for a thorough pelvic exam to determine the cause. We’re here for you!
What Are Uterine Fibroids? How Do You Diagnose Them?
Uterine fibroids are typically noncancerous growths found in or near the uterus. Very rarely (maybe one out of 350) do fibroids transform into cancerous tumors. Fibroids in the uterus can vary by size, number, and location. Some women may experience a single growth, while others may have an entire fibroid cluster. Intramural fibroids grow inside the uterus’ muscular wall, while subserosal fibroids grow along the outside wall of the uterus. Submucosal fibroids grow inside the uterus, where a baby would grow during pregnancy. The rarest type of fibroids is pedunculated fibroids, which grow outside the uterus and are connected via a thin stem resembling a mushroom cap and stalk.
Fibroids can grow or shrink over time, usually linked with the number of hormones present. Uterine fibroids are often found during a woman’s annual exam if the doctor detects irregularities in the uterus shape, but this isn’t always the case. If abnormal menstrual bleeding is a concern, we may order lab tests to rule out anemia or thyroid problems. If we have reason to suspect uterine fibroids could be the cause of your issues, we may order a pelvic ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose and measure them. We may use an outpatient procedure called a laparoscopy, during which we make a tiny incision in your abdomen to allow us to insert a narrow fiber-optic scope called a laparoscope to view your ovaries, uterus, and more.
Common Causes and Symptoms of Fibroids in the Uterus
Fibroids are more common than you might think, affecting about 40-80% of women of all ages. Women with a family history of fibroids or a higher body weight may be more likely to develop uterine fibroids. Having an early onset of menstruation, not having children, or entering menopause at a later age can also put you at a greater risk. Many women of reproductive age have fibroids in their uterus, but the symptoms vary. Some women may not experience any fibroids symptoms at all, or they may be so minor that no treatment is needed. The most common fibroids symptoms include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Painful menstrual periods
- Frequent urination
- Lower back or abdomen pain
- Pelvic pain and discomfort
- Rectal pressure
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal or uterine enlargement (hyperplasia)
- Bleeding between periods
- Chronic vaginal discharge
- Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
How We Usually Treat Uterine Fibroids at MRSC
Fibroid treatments will vary by patient. If you’re asymptomatic, you may choose to forego treatment. Because fibroids commonly shrink after menopause, many women close to menopause age also opt for “watchful waiting” and do not get treated immediately. Some women may find taking birth control or a medication that regulates their menstrual cycle may also help shrink their fibroids. Laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation allows doctors to destroy or shrink fibroids during a laparoscopic procedure, but we do not perform ablations as this is not effective and does not preserve future fertility. Depending on the number, size, and location of the fibroids, a minimally invasive laparoscopy is the recommended treatment. A more invasive treatment option is a myomectomy, which is a surgical procedure to remove the fibroids while leaving the uterus intact. However, for some women, a hysterectomy or partial hysterectomy removing the uterus may be the best method of permanently removing uterine fibroids, if fertility now or in the future is not a goal of yours.
Schedule an Exam at Manhattan Reproductive Surgery Center
Uterine fibroids cannot be prevented in many cases. However, maintaining a healthy body weight and getting annual pelvic exams can help you reduce your risk. Fibroids sometimes shrink on their own, but if you require fibroid treatment that preserves your fertility in the Greater New York City Metro Area, please contact us to schedule an appointment. We also recommend viewing our fibroids treatment frequently asked questions for additional information.