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Q: What are fibroids?

Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that form in and around a woman's uterus. It's estimated that around 35% of women have experienced fibroids by age 35, and as many as 80% by age 50. While these growths are benign, they can cause uncomfortable or even painful symptoms, including heavy, painful periods, pain in the lower back, abdominal discomfort, painful sex, frequent urination, constipation, and anemia. For women who want to get pregnant there can be additional complications, like problems with fertility, pregnancy, and labor, and an increased likelihood of miscarriage. About 30% of women with fibroids experience symptoms, while many don't even realize they have them.

Many women find that fibroids diminish naturally after menopause. But if you’re experiencing symptoms that are affecting your quality of life, treatment is available. For many, medication may manage symptoms and provide relief. In other cases, additional invasive or non-invasive intervention may be necessary. Some interventions can shrink the fibroids themselves while others can remove them but keep the uterus intact. For women who don't want to have more children, a hysterectomy, to remove the uterus altogether, will get rid of fibroids and fibroid symptoms once and for all.