Uterine fibroids affect one in five women, and polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, affects one in ten. A fibroid usually occurs in women between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five, while PCOS may affect girls as young as eleven years old. Both conditions may cause infertility, but many treatment advances have been made, that help women to both become pregnant and to carry babies to term.
An uterine fibroid is a benign tumor that grows within the muscle lining. Growth occurs when a single cell experiences genetic mutation, and begins to multiply uncontrollably. The growth is non-cancerous, and most women have no symptoms, and thus do not require treatment. However, some women do experience symptoms, like frequent urination, incontinence, pressure or pain in the pelvis, and severe bleeding.
Doctors may find a fibroid during an MRI, an ultrasound, or a simple pelvic exam. When a fibroid penetrates into the interior of the uterus, fertility may be decreased by as much as seventy percent. The decrease occurs because the presence of a fibroid increases the risk of miscarriage, by either decreasing the fetal blood supply, or causing inflammation of the uterine lining.
After treatment for a fibroid, many women completely regain fertility. Women may deliver prematurely, however, or require a cesarean section, depending on the fibroid’s location. Women may also experience heavy bleeding, after delivery, and should be monitored carefully by their obstetrician.
Many treatments for a fibroid preserve fertility. Doctors may remove the fibroid using instruments and a camera, which are inserted through the cervix. Or, doctors may perform traditional surgery to remove the fibroid, called a myomectomy. Additionally, uterine artery embolization stops the blood supply to the fibroid, which causes it to shrink and die.
PCOS consists of clusters of small ovarian cysts. Cysts are usually two to nine millimeters in diameter, and are created when the female body produces too many androgens, which are male hormones. Elevated levels of androgens prevent ovulation, thus causing infertility.
PCOS includes many classic symptoms. These symptoms may include irregular menstrual cycles, or amenorrhea, weight gain and difficulty losing weight, and excessive hair growth on the body, with thinning hair on the scalp. Patients may also exhibit acne, along with symptoms of insulin resistance.
Ultrasound, MRI, or blood tests help doctors to make a PCOS diagnosis. Treatment is usually non-invasive, involving increased exercise, a nutritious diet, and quitting smoking. To help PCOS patients to ovulate, doctors may prescribe medications, to both lower insulin, and to stimulate egg production.
Women have many options beyond hysterectomy. Doctors may treat both ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids with methods that do not damage the reproductive system. Women should keep this in mind, because experts believe that two-thirds of hysterectomies are performed unnecessarily. To preserve fertility, women should always obtain a second opinion, if hysterectomy is presented as the only option.
Uterine fibroids and polycystic ovary syndrome do provide barriers to fertility, but the barriers are not impossible to overcome. Women should make clear to their doctors that their goal is to preserve their ability to become pregnant, before agreeing to any treatment option. Women should be cautious if their doctor does not respect that goal, particularly if the doctor suggests an unnecessary hysterectomy.
There are many natural home remedies for fibroids. Get more information about uterine fibroids treatments at PCOSandFibroids.com .