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    It is estimated that between 20% and 40% of women over age 35 years have fibroids. These non-cancerous tumors of the uterus, also called myomas, fibromyomas, or leiomyomas, can be as tiny as a pea or grow to as large as a cantaloupe. They grow along the muscular wall of the uterus and are made of both muscle and fiber-like tissue. Although they are not cancerous, they can cause uncomfortable symptoms in women, particularly pain and a feeling of pressure in the area between the hip bones (the lower pelvic area). Some women experience a feeling that they constantly need to urinate. Others may feel pressure in the bowel, and experience bloating or constipation. Sometimes, fibroids cause heavy menstrual bleeding and lengthier menstrual periods.

    In some cases, women need no treatment for fibroids, since the growths may cause no symptoms or may stop causing symptoms when a woman reaches menopause. However, when the fibroids cause heavy bleeding that can lead to anemia, pelvic pain, and create pressure on other organs, the physician and patient may discuss treatment options. A woman still planning to have children may need to have fibroids removed to ensure they do not interfere with the ability of a fertilized egg to implant on her uterine lining. In rare cases, fibroids cause such severe and sharp pelvic pain that emergency treatment is required.

    Although some medications may help ease the symptoms of fibroids or even slow their growth, they are not long-term solutions to the fibroid growths. Surgery also can remove the fibroids. Myomectomy is the most common surgery option still used to treat fibroids because it does not involve removing the uterus. In severe cases, women may have a hysterectomy and have their uterus removed.

    The development of uterine fibroid embolization has offered women a non-surgical alternative to treating fibroids that are causing symptoms. It also is effective for treating multiple fibroids.

    Source: The Gale Group. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.";

  • To shrink the fibroids by restricting the blood flow to the uterus, avoiding the necessity of uterine hysterectomy or myomectomy (surgical removal of fibroids).
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