Uterine fibroids are typically benign (noncancerous) cellular growths that can cause pain or bleeding, or pelvic pressure or heaviness. They are very common, affecting an estimated 26 million women between the ages of 15 and 50 in the United States.

While heavy bleeding and pain can seriously interrupt your life, treating fibroids doesn't have to. Several treatment options exist for fibroids.

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What are some symptoms of fibroids?

You may suffer from pain, excess menstrual bleeding, vaginal bleeding between cycles, pelvic pressure or backache. Sometimes the bleeding is so severe that it could lead to anemia and the need for a blood transfusion. Some women may have no symptoms at all. Fibroids are very common and symptoms vary widely.

How are fibroids diagnosed?

Typically, large fibroids may be felt during routine a pelvic exam. But small fibroids may measure only one or two centimeters. The presence of fibroids can be confirmed with a transvaginal ultrasound.

If you have fibroids but they’re not causing any trouble, do they need to be treated?

If they cause no symptoms, fibroids can be left untreated and instead observed for rapid growth or symptoms.

What treatments are available for fibroids?

When fibroids are causing symptoms, various treatments are available. If symptoms are mild, medication to lessen bleeding may be effective. If that doesn’t help, surgical and procedural options to remove them are available – many of which are minimally invasive.

Is outpatient surgery an option?

Yes, many of the surgeries and procedures available to remove uterine fibroids are outpatient. For example, with minimally invasive gynecologic surgery (MIGS), the recovery tends to be much quicker than with traditional open surgery. With a minimally invasive surgical approach, 70% to 80% recovery typically takes place in two to four weeks.

And if minimally invasive surgery isn’t successful?

A hysterectomy, removing the uterus, may be an option if minimally invasive surgery is not. This is often done with robot-assisted or laparoscopic – or small-incision camera – surgery. But there are a lot of factors that go into making this decision, including your age and whether you wish to become pregnant in the future.

Not all fibroids in the uterus are the same. When considering surgery, your doctor will take into consideration their size, their location and how many there are. This helps determine the best treatment option. Fibroids don’t always grow. Many shrink with menopause.