If you’re caught in a vicious cycle of painful periods because of uterine fibroids, you’ve likely exhausted every treatment avenue. While it may seem an extreme solution, a hysterectomy may be the only way out of the never-ending agony of problematic fibroids that are wreaking havoc on your life.
Here at Healthcare for Women in suburban Chicago, we understand that a hysterectomy is a life-altering decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. To help you weigh your options and give you the tools you need to make an informed decision, we’ve pulled together the following primer on fibroids. Most important, we discuss when a hysterectomy may provide your best solution for restoring your quality of life.
If you’re reading this, we’re sure you already know what uterine fibroids are, but we wanted to take a moment to quickly review the problem to better understand the solutions. To start, uterine fibroids are growths made of muscle tissue that develop along your uterine wall. These leiomyomas (the medical term) are almost always benign and they can vary in size, from a kernel of rice up to the size of a grapefruit.
The cause of uterine fibroids remains unclear, but research suggests that they’re tied to genetics, hormones, and even race — black women are more likely to develop fibroids than other races.
Many women develop fibroids during their reproductive years and remain blissfully unaware of their presence. If you’re not so fortunate, however, these growths can lead to symptoms that can hijack your life in considerable ways. First, the pain that fibroids can cause, especially during your period, can be severe and travel to your low back and legs. Fibroids can also lead to heavy bleeding along with the pain, creating serious quality of life issues. Some women also experience painful sex, as well as frequent urination or constipation.
As you can see, this list of symptoms represents much more than just minor nuisances.
Because there’s no single, identifiable cause of uterine fibroids, we’re limited in how we can treat them. Hormone medications can provide a measure of relief by preventing menstruation and the side effects that accompany your cycles. We can also try a medication known as a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonist, which stops your production of estrogen and progesterone. This medication effectively puts you into temporary menopause, but it’s not meant for long-term use because of its systemic effects on other areas of your health, such as your bone density.
Surgically, we can try a procedure known as a laparoscopic myomectomy to remove larger and more problematic fibroids in an effort to preserve your uterus. In other cases, we can try an endometrial ablation to remove the lining of your uterus and end your menstrual cycles.
Lastly, there’s the hysterectomy, in which we remove your uterus entirely. This solution is irreversible and puts an end to your ability to have children, but it’s also the only known permanent solution for painful fibroids.
The decision whether to have a hysterectomy is yours to make and depends upon a number of factors that are unique to your situation. If you’ve tried other remedies, to no avail, and you’re still suffering considerable pain, this may be your best road to relief.
Bear in mind that a hysterectomy not only eliminates the possibility of having children, it also puts you into menopause, no matter your age. Ultimately, the results of a hysterectomy should be weighed against your goals and your quality of life.
We’d also like to point out that you can still have biological children after your hysterectomy if your ovaries are intact. To do this, your eggs are harvested from your ovaries, fertilized, and implanted in a surrogate.
If you still have questions about whether to undergo a hysterectomy to relieve painful uterine fibroids, please give us a call or set up a consultation using the online booking tool on this website.