Some women who suffer from uterine fibroids – noncancerous tumors that grow in or on the muscle walls of the uterus – put off treatment because they are approaching menopause. While in many instances, fibroids have been shown to shrink after menopause, this may not always be the case.
Although often menopause causes fibroids to shrink, this may not mean that the problems and symptoms associated with fibroids will disappear completely.
Effects of menopause on fibroids
Since fibroids grow in part due to the amount of estrogen in a woman’s body, the changes in hormones that come with menopause can cause them to stop growing and even shrink. It may not be enough to make the tumors go away altogether.
Another thing to remember is that if a woman is taking hormone replacement therapy to help deal with menopause, the fibroids will not be affected and the woman will likely continue to experience symptoms.
Every woman’s body is different though. Menopause may not cause the fibroids to shrink at all, and they may even continue growing. Some women have continued to experience painful symptoms from fibroids after menopause.
Symptoms of fibroids following menopause
Some of the uterine fibroid symptoms that may still persist after menopause include:
- Pelvic pressure: You may continue to experience severe pain similar to cramps before a period. This pain can be extreme and can be a result of the fibroids pressing on the walls of the uterus and surrounding organs.
- Urinary urgency: If the fibroids are pushing on the bladder, it can cause you to have to urinate frequently.
- Abdominal bloating: Depending on the size of the fibroids, they may cause your abdomen to become enlarged, similar to a pregnancy.
These symptoms can occur for any woman that had fibroids prior to menopause, whether you are taking hormone replacement therapy or not.
Many of the same treatment options remain that are available before menopause. Surgical removal of the fibroids through a hysterectomy or myomectomy is one alternative.
Another option is uterine fibroid embolization, a minimally invasive procedure that takes less than one hour. This treatment involves a small incision to the femoral artery. The doctor inserts a small tube into the incision and guides it through the artery to the fibroid.
He then injects little spheres of embolic material into the vein that is supplying blood to the tumor. The goal is to block the blood supply so that the fibroid will stop growing and then begin to shrink.
Uterine fibroid embolization is an outpatient procedure, meaning you will be able to go home the same day you have the treatment. Recovery time can be as short as 11 days, and then you are able to return to a lifestyle you enjoy, without the pain of uterine fibroids.
If you are suffering from uterine fibroids, the best thing is not to wait to get treatment. While menopause does improve symptoms and conditions for some women, it’s impossible to know whether it will work for you.
To find a doctor in your area that can perform the uterine fibroid embolization procedure, use our find a doctor tool. All you need is your zip code and a doctor will get in contact with you.
PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.