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Options for Dealing With Uterine Fibroids

by Jane E. Brody,  New York Times,  Oct 12, 2009
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A tumor does not have to be malignant to cause serious symptoms and lead to billions of dollars in health care spending every year. Consider uterine fibroids, which are benign tumors of the reproductive tract.

Fibroids are the most common reason women undergo hysterectomies; 300,000 are done each year just to remove them. All told, the cost of treating fibroids exceeds $21 billion a year, and that does not include the price millions of women pay in diminished quality of life.

A friend of mine was plagued with prolonged heavy menstrual bleeding and episodes of iron-deficiency anemia for nearly half her childbearing years. The root of the problem, her gynecologist told her, was a fibroid tumor that enlarged her uterus to the size of a four-month pregnancy.

After reviewing possible treatments, with a hysterectomy described as the only sure cure, my friend decided against all of them. She chose instead to wait until menopause to see whether decreased hormone stimulation would cause the fibroid to shrink. It didn’t. But at least now, in her mid-60s, she no longer has to deal with menstrual bleeding.

In some ways, my friend was fortunate. In addition to heavy, prolonged periods, many women with this common tumor experience debilitating menstrual pain, chronic pelvic pain or pressure, or pressure on the bladder that results in a frequent and urgent need to urinate. Fibroids can sometimes cause infertility, repeated miscarriages or other pregnancy complications. Read more.


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