Uterine fibroids are benign growths that occur quite often in women. If you are experiencing fibroids, your uterus may feel larger-than-normal or may extend into places it should not. However, fibroids may cause no symptoms and require no treatment. If you have uterine fibroids or have had them in the past, you should be checked by your doctor on a regular basis. Getting regular checkups and being alert to warning signs will help you be aware of changes that may require treatment
Uterine fibroids are frequently found during a routine pelvic exam. For example, your doctor may feel irregularities in the shape of the uterus through the abdomen, suggesting the presence of fibroids. However, if you suspect that you are experiencing fibroids, your first appointment will likely be with either your family doctor/general practitioner or a gynecologist. If you are initially diagnosed with uterine fibroids, your doctor will check the fibroids during a routine annual gynecological exam to see if they have grown. Also, because fibroids are dependent on hormones, they may decrease in size during/after menopause.
When making an evaluation for uterine fibroids, your doctor might ask some of the following questions:
After a medical history, your doctor may request a physical or pelvic exam to check for uterine fibroids. During a pelvic exam, doctors measure the size of a uterus by inserting two fingers of one hand into the vagina, while applying light pressure to the abdomen with the other hand. Additionally, a number of tests may show more information about fibroids such as imaging technology. The tests take images of the inside of your body without surgery to confirm a diagnosis. If images are uncertain, doctors recommend surgery for uterine fibroids. Biopsy is rarely performed for uterine fibroids and if performed, is rarely diagnostic.
Hysterosalpingography – This imaging test is a special X-ray test used to detect abnormal changes in the size and shape of the uterus and fallopian tubes. This test is also used therapeutically in cases of adhesions in the fallopian tubes as a result of sexual transmitted inflammatory disease.
Hysteroscopy – During this procedure, doctors use a thin tool (the hysteroscope) to view the inside of the uterus. The hysterocope is inserted through the vagina and cervix to confirm the prescence of fibroids inside the uterine cavity.
Laparoscopy – During this procedure, doctors insert a thin tube called the laparoscope via a small cut just below or through the navel to view inside of the abdomen and confirm the prescence of fibroids on the outside of the uterus.
Sonohysterography - This test uses ultrasound to view the inside of the uterus after fluid is inserted to the uterus through the cervix. The fluid provides a clear picture of the uterine lining.
Ultrasonography – Ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of the uterus and other pelvic organs.
If uterine fibroids require treatment, talk to your doctor about best options. Removing the uterus may not be the best choice for every woman and make sure that you understand completely everything that your doctor tells you. Don't hesitate to ask your doctor to repeat information or to ask follow-up questions for clarification. For more information about uterine fibroid treatments, continue reading here.
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