If you have symptoms that might be caused by fibroids, turn to the experts at UC San Diego Health. We take a team approach to diagnosing and treating uterine fibroids.
Our skilled group of gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists and other specialists offers medical and surgical therapies for fibroid-related symptoms, including minimally invasive surgery.
What are Fibroids?
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths in or on the walls of the uterus (or womb). Fibroids are extremely common, with small fibroids occurring in more than 75 percent of women.
Most women with uterine fibroids have no symptoms and do not need surgery. For women who do need treatment, our gynecological surgeons offer hysterectomy alternatives, including abdominal, laparoscopic, and robotic myomectomy.
When to See a Doctor
You may benefit from medical treatment if fibroids are causing the following symptoms:
- Heavy, prolonged periods, sometimes with clots, or irregular periods
- Anemia (fatigues caused by low red blood count)
- Pain or pressure between the hip bones or in the back of the legs
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Frequent need to urinate, or urinary retention
- Constipation or bloating
- Enlarged abdomen
- Watery vaginal discharge
Fibroid specialists include:
- Infertility specialists who evaluate fibroids and recommend therapy if they are interfering with conception.
- Interventional radiologists who offer uterine artery embolization and MR-guided focused ultrasound as alternatives to surgical treatment of fibroids.
- Perinatologists who manage the complex risks of pregnancies complicated by fibroids.
Fibroids are most commonly diagnosed during a pelvic examination. Because they are benign tumors of the uterine muscle wall, fibroids make the uterus feel larger than normal, as well as irregular.
If the size of the uterus is hard to determine or the diagnosis is uncertain, a pelvic ultrasound often can determine the sizes and positions of fibroids within the uterine wall. However, sometimes the exact position of the fibroids is hard to accurately determine with ultrasound.
The best way to determine the size and position of fibroids is an MRI. Fibroids contain more collagen than normal uterine muscle and, as a result, the fibroids appear distinct and darker on the MRI. MRI can also be used to see if submucous fibroids are present. This can be helpful if unexplained heavy bleeding is present or fertility is a concern.
Personalized Treatment Plan
If you need treatment for fibroids, we offer you several options, depending on the symptoms you're experiencing as well as your desire to have children in the future.
Your treatment plan will be tailored to your individual needs and may include a combination of medication, counseling, hormone therapy, endometriosis surgery, and alternative therapies (such as acupuncture, endometriosis diet or massage.)
If your fibroids are causing no symptoms, your doctor may suggest a strategy called "watchful waiting," where you and your doctor will monitor your symptoms and only pursue treatment if problems develop.
If you have pain, discomfort, or pressure related to fibroids, we offer both nonsurgical and surgical treatments to help resolve your fibroid issues.
Fibroid Treatment Options
- Watchful waiting
- Medical management. Painful symptoms can be initially treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a fairly simple, noninvasive procedure in which small particles are injected into the uterine
- Uterine artery occlusion
Hysterectomy (abdominal, vaginal, and laparoscopic)
Myomectomy, a surgical procedure to remove uterine fibroids. This procedure may preserve your uterus and your ability to have children.
Visit our gynecologic surgery page
Fibroids and Fertility
Our fibroid team works closely with you to address your fertility goals as you develop your treatment plan.