FYI: 70% of women have uterine fibroids

Last week I helped deliver a monster. No, not a baby--I'd never be that unkind to a newborn. It was a fibroid, and it was huge. Big enough to cause strangers to ask J., my 32-year-old patient, when her due date was. J. is a petite woman, and her fibroids made her look five months pregnant. She struggled with multiple therapies in the past, and when her gyno told her she'd have to have a hysterectomy, she came to me. J. knew that she may never have a baby, but she wanted to try to preserve the option. A talented cancer surgeon agreed with me, and together we removed seven fibroids from J.'s uterus--the largest was bigger than a cantaloupe, and weighed almost five pounds.

How common are fibroids? About 70 percent of women will have them at some point, though much of the time they're silent. The 25-50 percent of women who do have symptoms may contend with heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure, and possible difficulty getting (or staying) pregnant. When fibroids get as large as J.'s, they can actually cause kidney damage, by preventing urine from draining into the bladder.

If after an exam a doctor tells you that you have fibroids, don't panic--you don't have cancer, and you may never develop symptoms. If you do have problems, make sure your gyno gives you all the information you need about treatment options. Have you ever been diagnosed with fibroids?

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