What Are Fibroids?

Fibroids are growths made up of connective tissue and muscle cells that usually form in the wall of your uterus. Other names for fibroids are myomas and leiomyomas. Fibroids are the most common tumor in women. They are almost always noncancerous (benign) and harmless. Fibroids start as pea-sized lumps, but can grow steadily during your reproductive years. Many fibroids just need to be watched. Others may need treatment if they become too large or cause symptoms.


Potential Problems

Fibroids often cause no symptoms. But a fibroid that grows quickly in your uterus can cause 1 or more of the following problems:

  • Excessive uterine bleeding, leading to anemia (lack of red blood cells)
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Difficulty having bowel movements
  • Achiness, heaviness, or fullness
  • Back or abdominal pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Difficulty getting pregnant or being unable to get pregnant
  • Problems with pregnancy
  • Enlargement of the lower abdomen

Treatment is Tailored for You

No 2 fibroids are the same. The type of treatment you will have depends on their number, size, location, and rate of growth. Your treatment decision also depends on the severity of your symptoms and whether or not you plan to have children in the future. There are a growing number of effective ways to treat fibroids. After your medical evaluation, your health care provider will be able to discuss with you the best options to solve your particular problem and meet your needs.

Hysteroscopic Removal of Fibroids

Description of the Procedure

A device called a speculum will be inserted into the vagina. It will hold your vagina open and allow instruments to enter easily. The doctor will clean the vagina and may dilate the cervix. The hysteroscope will then be put into the uterus through the vagina and dilated cervix. The uterus will be filled with carbon dioxide gas or a liquid. This will cause the uterus to inflate, allowing the doctor to get a closer, clear look at the uterine walls.

If you are having the procedure done for diagnostic reasons, the doctor will examine the uterus for abnormal tissue. A biopsy may be taken. Or, the uterine walls may be scraped to get cell samples.

If you are having the procedure done for therapeutic reasons, the doctor may insert small surgical tools through the hysteroscope. The tools will be used to remove diseased tissue and make repairs. In some cases, the doctor will use another viewing tube called a laparoscope. It will be passed into the abdomen. This allows the doctor to monitor the outside of the uterus and detect any possible perforation of the uterus by the hysteroscope.


Laparoscopic Removal of Fibroids

Laparoscopy is a type of surgical procedure. It lets the doctor see your reproductive organs close up. After you are given anesthesia, small incisions are made in your abdomen. A laparoscope is used. This is a long, thin tube with a camera on the end that sends pictures to a video screen. It is put through one small incision. The surgeon can see inside the body. Surgical tools are put through the other incisions.


A Closer Look

Your doctor needs to see clearly during surgery. To do this, your abdomen is inflated with a harmless gas. A device may be inserted into the vagina to lift the uterus. This helps your doctor see your organs better through the scope.

Risks and Complications of Surgery

These may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Damage to blood vessels, nerves, muscles, or nearby pelvic structures
  • Risks of anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Hernia at the incision site
  • Need for a larger incision

Your Future Checkups

Treating your fibroids is likely to relieve your symptoms. But your health care provider will want to check your progress. Ask your health care provider about any additional follow-up visits you might need.