Benign growths in the uterus, called uterine fibroids, might appear during childbearing years. Up to 75 percent of women develop a uterine fibroid at some point during their lives, and many cause no symptoms. Other fibroids cause symptoms such as pelvic pain, heavy bleeding, heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent urination and constipation. The symptoms might vary depending on type, size and placement of the fibroids. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of women with uterine fibroids require treatment, according to the Society of Interventional Radiology. Traditional treatment for problem uterine fibroids includes surgical procedures, but other options exist to help shrink the growths without an operation.
Wait and see what happens to determine if the uterine fibroids continue to grow in size. Have a physician check the size of the fibroids every six months to a year to determine if the fibroids continue to enlarge. Uterine fibroids might grow slowly and begin to shrink without treatment once menopause occurs and hormone levels in the body drop.
Take medications that will help shrink the uterine fibroids. A hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone moves from the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland to trigger the release of more hormones, called progesterone and estrogen. These hormones regulate your menstrual cycle and contribute to the growth of uterine fibroids. Taking medications that work against the gonadotropin-releasing hormone will decrease levels of progesterone and estrogen in the body. The decreased hormone levels might help shrink the uterine fibroids. Possible side effects of these medications include hat flashes, decreased sex drive, difficulty sleeping and joint pain.
Use testosterone therapy. Taking a synthetic medication that is similar to the male hormone might help prevent your menstrual cycle from starting. The halting of the menstrual cycle might help shrink the uterine fibroids. Adverse reactions such as acne, a deeper voice, unwanted hair growth and weight gain might occur for women taking medications that mimic testosterone.
Undergo a uterine artery embolization. During the procedure, a doctor called an interventional radiologist injects small particles into the arteries that directly supply blood to the uterus. The particles block the flow of blood. Without an adequate blood supply, the uterine fibroids might begin to shrink.
Have a focused ultrasound procedure. This procedure uses an MRI scanner to allow the doctor to visualize your anatomy while using high-frequency sounds waves to destroy the uterine fibroids.