Health Watch: Saving Fertility With Uterine Fibroids

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Between 70-80% of all women experience uterine fibroids.  These non-cancerous growths often occur during child bearing age causing concern that treatment can mean the loss of fertility.

SLUCare OB/GYN, Dr. Brigid Holloran-Schwartz says that while uterine fibroids are common, not all require treatment.  Only about 25% of women require treatment.

Upon evaluation, treatment depends on the severity of symptoms which can cause bleeding between periods, difficulty urinating and often, extreme abdominal pain.  Abnormal Uterine Bleeding (AUB), meaning frequent or heavy bleeding or both, can cause anemia, or drop a woman's hemoglobin down too low.

Dr. Schwartz carefully considers each patient's symptoms with fertility preservation as the main point of discussion.  She first considers surgical options that can preserve fertility. "Those we very simply do an outpatient procedure called a hysteroscopy, where we insert a camera into the birth canal just into the lining where babies grow and that's also the lining that grows and sheds. And, we can remove those if they are in the cavity."

She also suggests the Mirena IUD, medication, hysterectomy, myomectomy, or uterine artery embolization for women done bearing children.  "An endometrial ablasion targets to destroy that lining."

A woman with benign fibroid growths and is done bearing children may have a fibroid artery embolization.  "They essentially target the blood supply to the uterus. And that, preferentially, affects the fibroids."

Now, most surgical treatments can be performed using minimally invasive techniques, including removing the fibroids or the uterus altogether.

To learn more about uterine fibroids, click here.


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