Women's Health Matters

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Do birth control pills affect fibroids?
Low-dose birth control pills do not contain enough estrogen to stimulate the growth of fibroids. In fact, oral contraceptives can help a woman bleed less during her period. This is an area of ongoing research, but whatever the eventual conclusions, the influence of birth control pills is probably slight.

The effect of Depo-Provera, on the other hand, a form of progesterone that is injected monthly, may be different. Some studies have suggested that this method of birth control may help prevent and control the growth of fibroids. Because Depo-Provera usually stops a woman's periods, it can also prevent some fibroid symptoms. Again, more research is necessary before any conclusions can be reached.

If I get pregnant, will my fibroids affect my pregnancy?
Most women with fibroids get pregnant and have perfectly normal pregnancies. If you have a large fibroid in your uterus, however, it takes up space in the womb and can bend the uterus out of shape. This leaves less room for the fetus to grow, and, in some cases, leads to an early delivery. Because fibroids are often odd and irregular shapes, they may also cause more discomfort for you, if the growing fetus presses the fibroid into your back, bowels or bladder. In rare circumstances, the placenta may attach to the uterine wall directly on top of the fibroid. This increases the risk of a serious pregnancy complication, placental abruption, where the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus. This can cause heavy painful bleeding and may reduce the oxygen supply to the fetus. Occasionally, a fibroid can block the path the fetus takes during delivery, which can lead to a cesarean section.

If I had a myomectomy, do I need to give birth by cesarean section?
Your doctor may recommend a cesarean section after a myomectomy if the procedure has weakened your uterine wall and increased the risk of a rupture during the birth. Certain procedures, like the laparoscopic removal of fibroids inside the uterus wall, have been associated with an increased risk of this problem. You should talk to your doctor about your specific case.

I read that smoking reduces the risk of fibroids. Can smoking possibly be good for me?
No, smoking is never good for you. It dramatically increases your risk of heart disease and many types of cancer. However, being a smoker does appear to decrease a woman’s risk of developing fibroids.

What is hot balloon therapy?
Hot balloon therapy (also called thermal balloon ablation) is one of several endometrial ablation techniques. Endometrial ablation removes the lining of the uterus and stops menstrual bleeding. It is a way of treating heavy bleeding in women with fibroids. With hot balloon therapy, a balloon is inserted into the uterus and expanded with hot water. The heat thins out the endometrial lining, which reduces the amount a woman bleeds. Although hot balloon therapy has received some media attention, it is only one of several ways of doing endometrial ablation. It is not widely used in Canada, and is not the recommended technique for women with fibroids.


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