Though they affect the same general area of women’s bodies, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts are completely different. The former are benign tumors that develop in or just outside a woman’s uterus (womb), while the latter are fluid-filled sacs that can form in the ovaries.
Though the two are sometimes confused, uterine fibroids can prove to be much worse, and more problematic than ovarian cysts. Here’s how.
Though the vast majority of women will never experience any of the signs and symptoms of fibroids, they can often cause women to experience several different painful conditions. Depending on the tumors size and location, some of the symptoms of fibroid cysts include heavy menstrual bleeding, menstrual periods lasting seven days or more, pelvic pressure or pain, frequent urination, constipation, and back or leg pain.
Ovarian cysts often don’t cause any symptoms, but as the cysts grow, they can cause abdominal bloating or swelling, pain in the lower back or thighs, pelvic pain, nausea, or vomiting. However, if they cause a severe, sharp pain, fever, faintness, or rapid breathing, then immediate medical attention may be needed.
Fortunately, there are several different fibroid treatments available. Medicinal fibroid treatments are available to help manage the symptoms, and potentially shrink the tumors prior to surgical fibroid treatments. There are also minimally invasive uterine fibroid treatments, too. Radiofrequency ablation, for example, uses heat to destroy fibroid tissue without harming surrounding normal uterine tissue.
However, hysterectomy surgery — the removal of the uterus — may sometimes be needed. Of the some 600,000 hysterectomies that are performed each year in the U.S., about 250,000 are because of fibroids. Fortunately, many women are able to avoid undergoing such surgery, and can be receive other, alternative fibroid treatments.
Ovarian cysts, on the other hand, will often go away on their own, usually at the end of the menstrual cycle. If a patient recurrently develops cysts, their doctor may put them on birth control to help regulate their menstrual cycles, and minimize the chance of developing the cysts. If the cysts do not go away, grow larger, or both, the doctor may perform laparoscopic surgery.
Though the two medical terms are often used interchangeably, uterine fibroids usually have much more severe symptoms, and will often require fibroid treatments in those cases. Ovarian cysts, on the other hand, tend to be more mild, and will go away on their own.
If you have any questions about ovarian cyst or uterine fibroids treatment options, feel free to ask in the comments.