By targeting the regulatory hormones for your menstrual cycle. Hormone therapy can effectively treat symptoms of fibroids like heavy bleeding and pelvic pressure.
This post discusses different hormone therapies used to treat uterine fibroids, providing you the details you need to make informed decisions and schedule your first consultation.
When should you consider hormone therapy for fibroids?
As a female, your hormone balance plays a vital role in the development of fibroids. For this reason, hormone therapy is a viable option for shrink fibroids, relieve symptoms, and help prepare for surgery when necessary.
Hormone therapy is most often used to shrink fibroids in preparation for surgery, and women approaching menopause or surgery is not an option.
Hormone therapy options include
- GnRH analogues (injections or nasal sprays)
- Progestins (intrauterine hormonal device and progestin-only pills)
- Birth control pills (Progestin and estrogen combinations)
- Ulipristal acetate
GnRH analogues (injections or nasal sprays)
a GnRH analogue is an artificially produced hormone. They limit the production of estrogen in the ovaries. Estrogen is a leading cause of fibroid growth, and limiting it minimizes fibroids and can cause them to reduce in size.
Application of these hormones happens via injection or nasal spray.
Though these hormones can be useful, they are not suited for long-term use as they can increase the risk for osteoporosis – the loss of bone mass. They can also reduce the production of estrogen to the point where pregnancy becomes more difficult or impossible. When treatment stops, the full function returns to the uterus, and estrogen levels go back to normal.
While you are doing this treatment, your doctor will regularly check on the fibroids’ size and monitor symptom changes. It’s essential to monitor side effects as well since less estrogen can cause adverse effects.
- Possible side effects of GnRH analogues
GnRH analogues limit the production of estrogen, making the side effects very similar to those of menopause. Side-effects can include hot flashes, sweating, and, rarely, vaginal infections.
Hormonal intrauterine devices (IUD’s)
More commonly known as IUDs, Hormonal intrauterine devices are inserted into the uterus, remaining there for up to five years. They are often used for contraception but have artificial hormones that prevent build-up of the womb’s lining during menstruation.
In fibroid treatment, only relatively small fibroids can be treated with this method. Large fibroids can change the womb’s shape, making it difficult or impossible to insert an IUD. If you plan to become pregnant, IUDs are not an option due to their contraceptive effect.
- Possible Side effects of IUDs
Hormonal IUDs have potential side effects. Acne and spotting between periods, mood swings, and tenderness of the breasts can occur. Most side effects are more common early in treatment than after a few months once the body has acclimated to the device. In approximately .001 percent of women (1 in 1000), damage to the womb can result.
Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills reduce menstrual bleeding, making them a thyroid treatment option for those whose primary symptom is heavy bleeding. Over time, menstrual bleeding can stop completely.
Side effects of birth control pills include water retention, headaches, and tenderness of the breasts. The risk of blood clotting can also increase while on birth control pills.
Ulipristal acetate has been approved in small doses to treat uterine fibroids. These work by blocking the effect of progesterone, which is a promoter of fibroid growth.
Because of the risk of liver damage, these have been widely banned for the use of fibroid treatment, though they are worth mentioning for this post’s purposes.
Which is the right fit for me?
If you have tried these therapies and are still struggling with fibroid symptoms or are symptom-free and wish to assess your fibroids, reach out to a local fibroid specialist like us at FiVe Clinics. We have been providing practical assessment and treatment of fibroids in Ohio to numerous patients every year, freeing them from symptoms so they can go on with their life as usual and free from pain!
**This post is informational and not based on a physician’s advice