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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Uterine Fibroids
October 2001

Q. I am a 51-year-old female. For the past 4 years I have experienced problems with fibroids. I have had 2 PID infections in which I was hospitalized. A week ago I had a severe bleeding episode. I was brought to a hospital while out of town on vacation. My blood loss so great I had to be transfused and my blood count was half of what it should be. My OB/GYN wants to do a complete hysterectomy. Is there any alternative? I have never had an episode like this and was in a high altitude mountain area. I am now very frightened that this could happen again.

A. Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths of the uterus. They are very common, affecting about one-third of women over age 35. The most common symptom is that of fullness or discomfort if the fibroids get too large. They cause an increased risk of blood loss which can be severe as happened in your case. Fibroids tend to shrink after menopause, so if symptoms are mild, surgery is not needed. In your situation, however, the bleeding was severe, so more definitive treatment may be needed. Surgery is commonly done, over 100,000 hysterectomies per year in the U.S. performed for fibroids. Newer procedures interrupting the blood flow to the fibroids are available, but it may not be the right treatment in your situation. Your doctor can advise you in this matter.




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