Uterine fibroids are benign tumors of the uterus that can cause infertility, heavy periods, severe menstrual cramps, and pelvic pressure. These abnormal growths are among of the most common causes of infertility in women. There are no known causes for uterine fibroids, though the explanation appears to be an absence of a signal to turn off division of the muscle cells that make up the walls of the uterus. While traditionally hysterectomy has been recommended for women with fibroids, women with fibroid tumors are now being offered more conservative treatments such as myomectomies. A myomectomy is a surgical procedure in which the fibroid tumor is removed, yet the uterus is left in place. Reconstruction of the uterus is a vital part of this procedure. Specialists who perform myomectomies are often able to save a woman from needing a hysterectomy, enabling her to retain her child-bearing ability. For some fibroids, the myomectomy can be done on an out-patient basis (laparoscopically or hysteroscopically). Medications are another option for treating fibroid tumors in some women. Prescription medications are available that can shrink the size of the fibroid and lessen heavy bleeding and pain. These medications can only be used for a limited period of time, however, and require careful monitoring by a physician.
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