When to have a hysterectomy for fibroids?

Having a hysterectomy for fibroids is often the last attempt to get rid of these benign tumors. Usually, fibroids are left untouched until they are actually causing symptoms.

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hysterectomy for fibroids

Oftentimes, doctors prefer to keep a watchful eye on the tumors before starting any treatment, as it is not unusual for them to cease to grow or even shrink when women reach menopause.

What causes fibroids in the uterus?

Why uterine fibroids develop remains unclear. What they do know is that high estrogen levels appear to affect the growth of fibroids. During pregnancy, they frequently swell, and after menopause, when estrogen levels drop, they oftentimes shrink, and women have less bothersome symptoms. Moreover, a woman’s risk of developing fibroids decreases every time she gives birth.

Can a uterine fibroid tumor be cancerous?

Fibroids are abnormal (benign) growths that start in the uterus wall. They are made up of muscle and fibrous connective tissue. A commonly asked question is: Can fibroids be cancerous?

The chance that your fibroid is harboring cancer (leiomyosarcoma) is really pretty low. Some experts believe that the chance of uterine fibroids being cancerous is less than 1 in 1000.

What are fibroids symptoms?

Nonetheless, uterine fibroids can grow rapidly in size. That is when they start to become problematic and may cause the following symptoms:

  • bladder and bowel problems
  • heavy bleeding and anemia
  • discomfort during sexual intercourse, painful menstrual periods
  • enlarged abdomen

While there are numerous treatments, hysterectomy for fibroids remains the most effective surgical treatment. In this case, they remove a woman’s entire uterus.

Myomectomy or fibroid removal surgery

However, women who still like to have children may choose to have a myomectomy. This is when they only remove the fibroids and leave the uterus. A myomectomy needs to be done before a woman gets pregnant. After a myomectomy, there is no guarantee that the fibroids won’t grow back. Tiny fibroids that may be left behind during the myomectomy may grow in size, plus new fibroids can start to grow.

When to have a hysterectomy for fibroids?

As I already mentioned, they most often wait to do a hysterectomy for fibroids unless there are indications that the situation could become adverse. For example, they may put pressure on the bladder and ureters once they grow big. This may result in urinary infections, obstructions, and even kidney damage. Large fibroids can put pressure on the bowel, and this may cause constipation. Furthermore, prolonged heavy bleeding can cause severe anemia and may make it necessary for women to have a hysterectomy for fibroids.

Additionally, fibroids can, in some instances, cause severe pain during periods or intercourse. This is why some women choose to have a hysterectomy in the hope of relieving the pain.

What size fibroids should be removed?

The normal size of a woman’s uterus measures 3 to 4 inches by 2.5 inches. Some fibroids can grow to the size of a watermelon, much larger than the uterus itself. Obviously, this may cause burdensome symptoms because of the pressure they put on other pelvic organs and require the fibroid to be removed.

Uterine fibroids size chart

uterine fibroids size chart

Hysterectomy for fibroids: pros and cons

Like any other surgical treatment, hysterectomy for uterine fibroid removal has disadvantages and advantages. It is important to evaluate your options before you undergo this surgical procedure. Do some research and weigh the side effects with the benefits. Surely, several side effects are associated with a hysterectomy, but they are not immediately life-threatening.

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Lupron prior to hysterectomy for fibroids

Oftentimes, doctors can prescribe Lupron before undergoing a hysterectomy for fibroids. Lupron is administered through drug injections. Doing that inhibits the production of estrogen so that the fibroids do not grow any further. It shrinks the fibroids temporarily, making it easier to remove them.

The downside of this treatment is that it can cause hot flashes, dizziness, joint pain, nausea, headaches, vaginal dryness, and libido changes. Not everyone likes to have this treatment because of these underlying side effects. It is not mandatory to take Lupron before a hysterectomy. Instead, you can discuss this with your doctor if there are any alternatives.

Fibroid treatment without surgery

There are numerous alternatives to hysterectomy for fibroids, but the question is: are they as effective as a hysterectomy to remove the fibroids permanently? Some non-invasive treatments can suppress fibroids by temporarily cutting hormonal or blood supply to these tumors. But often, the solution is temporary, and such treatments may come with side effects.

  • One option is treatment with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists that shrink the fibroids by triggering the body into a menopausal stage. Without sufficient estrogen production, the fibroids will shrink. However, reliance on these drugs cannot be permanent because they are linked with bone thinning. That being said, they are not really the best alternatives to hysterectomy.
  • Another way of treating fibroids is uterine artery embolization. This is a non-surgical procedure using local anesthesia that lasts between 60 to 90 minutes, where they inject tiny embolic agents into the arteries of the uterus. The intent is to block the blood supply to the fibroid to reduce its size.
  • The other alternative to hysterectomy is Magnetic Resonance (MR), which locates the tumors and destroys them using ultrasound waves. This treatment is most suitable for women who are past childbearing. This is a newer procedure and is only available in a few countries.

Natural cures for fibroids

Many women like to know how to shrink fibroids naturally. It would be best if you were cautious of fictional claims of drugs advertised on the internet that cure fibroids. Numerous Chinese herbs are said to shrink fibroids. Such claims have no scientific proof. Even if the herb says FDA approved, that should not be a guarantee of its safety. The FDA is not authorized to approve herbal supplements; generally, it’s the people who make and distribute the herbal products responsible for their effectiveness and safety.

  • Eat plenty of detoxifying foods like healthy green leafy veggies
  • Drink herbal teas
  • Take only scientifically approved supplements
  • Consume essential oils
  • Exercise to cut weight

The best diet for fibroids

Natural cures can also include a proper diet in an attempt to reduce fibroids. An overweight woman is more likely to grow fibroids. With that in mind, women should strive to reduce weight and stick to a balanced diet. Beef, ham, and lamb ingestion may contribute to the risk of fibroids. In a nutshell, foods to eat if you have fibroids:

Foods to avoid with fibroids

  • Limit the intake of high-fat, processed meats
  • Avoid eating a lot of refined sugars and carbs
  • Reduce your alcohol intake
  • Don’t consume soy products
  • Last, avoid artificial sweeteners

However, these foods may not be helpful if fibroids are large and have painful side effects. Hysterectomy may remain the most effective to remove fibroids and address the underlying abnormal bleeding.

What do you think about having a hysterectomy for fibroids? When did your doctor decide it was necessary to remove them? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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