Fibroids are one of the leading causes of abdominal pain and heavy bleeding in women. It’s understandable why a woman would rush to the emergency room if she was experiencing these symptoms and didn’t know why.
In a study done by the University of Michigan Medicine, researchers found that out of 487 million ER visits studied between 2006 and 2017, tens of thousands of women were seen for fibroids. Out of that large number, only about 10 percent were admitted to the hospital.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths or tumors in the uterus. They can either be small enough to not even know they’re there or so large they cause a lot of pain and menstrual bleeding. Most women develop fibroids during their childbearing years.
Doctors and scientists don’t know why or what specifically causes fibroids to develop, but they do know that your chances of getting fibroids are higher if you’re overweight, start puberty at a younger age or have a family history of fibroids. Hormones can also be a factor.
How do you treat fibroids?
As the study found, 90 percent of women who went to the ER didn’t necessarily need to be there. Fibroids are best treated by your gynecologist who knows more about your health history and individual needs.
Fibroids also tend to be chronic (yes, they can come back), so that’s also why it’s better to continue care with your women’s health doctor instead of an emergency department situation.
Fibroids can either be treated with medication (usually hormone therapy) or removed surgically, depending on their size and the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor can do a hysteroscopy to explore your uterus, take samples and figure out the best treatment option.
If fibroids do need to be removed surgically, there are a few different options. A procedure called a myomectomy can be done to remove the fibroids but keep the uterus intact. This is the best option for women who are still planning to have children in the future.
The other option is to do a hysterectomy, which is a full removal of the uterus. A hysterectomy can be a good option if you’re past childbearing years and struggle with severe bleeding and pain. Since fibroids can come back after being removed, this procedure would eliminate that possibility altogether.
Regular gynecological visits can help spot and treat fibroids
At All About Women, we can’t stress enough the importance of regular well-woman checkups. If you’re seeing your gynecologist on a yearly basis, they’ll be able to identify changes in your health and often catch them before you find yourself rushing to the ER.
It’s estimated that about 70 percent of women will get fibroids at some point in their lives. Many women don’t realize they have them if the symptoms are mild or non-existent, but they can get more severe as time goes on. With regular doctor visits, your OB/GYN can often recognize their existence before you do.
If you’re experiencing abdominal pain or heavy menstrual cycles, talk to your women’s doctor right away. It may save you an expensive trip to an emergency department.