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UCLA Radiology Fibroid Imaging and Treatment Program


Medical Therapy

A first line therapy for many cases of Uterine Fibroids can entail entirely non-invasive options such as watchful waiting or medical therapy. While these treatments do not cure uterine fibroids they are effective at managing the symptoms often associated with fibroids. This can be best determined as the appropriate option during a Fibroid Consultation.

Watchful Waiting

If you're like most women with uterine fibroids, you may have infrequent signs or symptoms after diagnosis. In this case, watchful waiting could be the best course of action. Fibroids are not cancerous and rarely interfere with pregnancy. It is not always necessary to treat fibroids immediately. However, it is important that they are monitored regularly by a physician. Visits could include a review of your fibroid symptoms, a pelvic examination and, possibly a pelvic or abdominal ultrasound to assess the size of the fibroids and determine if any risks are present. If the growth rate or symptoms associated with the fibroids increase or pose a medical risk then the option to escalate the treatment plan is taken.

Medical Hormone Therapy

Medications used in this therapy are short term remedies intended to minimize the symptoms resulting from fibroids or similar gynecological disorders. They target hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle, by stopping the ovary's usual hormonal cycle and reducing estrogen levels. These medications have proven effective to treat symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure for many women. Although they don't eliminate fibroids, growth of the fibroid may decrease and accordingly reduce or alleviate symptoms. Medical Hormone Therapy options include:

  • Androgens

    Androgens are the so-called male hormone. They occur naturally in women in smaller amounts than men. They are produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands, located above your kidneys. Given as medical therapy, androgens relieve fibroid symptoms by effectively stopping menstruation, resolving anemia, shrinking fibroid tumors and reducing uterine size. Occasional unpleasant side effects, such as weight gain, dysphoria (feeling depressed, anxious or uneasy), acne, headaches, unwanted hair growth and a deeper voice may be experienced.

  • Oral Contraceptives

    Oral contraceptives are generally prescribed as a form of birth control for women. Progestin contained in the contraceptives has a positive affect for many women with Fibroids, by decreasing the growth of fibroids, leading to a reduction of symptoms. This therapy can be taken relatively long term and helps control menstrual bleeding, but does not reduce fibroid size.

  • Progestin-releasing intrauterine device (IUD)

    For fibroids that don't distort the inner uterus, a progestin-releasing IUD is another effective option. A progestin-releasing IUD works as a long term birth control and similarly to an oral contraceptive provides symptomatic relief for fibroids. This birth control device can relieve heavy bleeding, pain and pressure. However, this treatment does not shrink fibroids or eliminate them.

  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists

    Gonadotropin-releasing hormone is a naturally occurring hormone which triggers menstruation for women. A control center in the brain called the hypothalamus manufactures gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH). It stimulates the ovaries to produce estrogen and progesterone. When taken as therapy, a Gn-RH agonist such as (Lupron) produces the opposite effect to that of your natural hormone. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall, menstruation typically stops, fibroids often shrink and anemia can improve.