After years of living with heavy bleeding, pelvic pain and anemia, a diagnosis of uterine fibroids may have at first been a relief. Finally, there is a name to the condition that has been keeping you at home, in pain and just not yourself. Many women feel a dramatic sense of relief when they initially receive a fibroid diagnosis, but then become overwhelmed when they begin to research treatment options. Contrary to what you may have heard, not every woman with fibroids needs a hysterectomy. In fact, there are some non-surgical treatments you can try before pursuing more invasive options to treat your fibroids – one option is the intrauterine device or IUD.
IUDs for Uterine Fibroids
First things first, you should know that uterine fibroids are noncancerous muscle tumors in the uterus. The growth of these tumors is related to the hormone estrogen. While there are many treatments for fibroids to choose from, many women with smaller fibroids find that they are able to manage their fibroid symptoms with hormonal therapy.
What is an IUD?
The Mirena IUD is a small plastic T-shaped device that is inserted into your uterus by your doctor. The device releases levonorgestrel, a synthetic type of progesterone that works to relieve fibroid symptoms by making the uterus less reactive to estrogen. IUD insertion is an in-office procedure that takes about fifteen minutes. You are awake during the procedure and do not need to be sedated, but some women take ibuprofen or naproxen about an hour before IUD insertion to reduce any swelling and discomfort. The Mirena IUD also prevents pregnancy for up to five years.
Can I Use an IUD for My Fibroid Symptoms?
Fibroids might be the right treatment for your fibroids if:
- Your fibroid is small (you may have heard your doctor say it is less than 12-week size, which means it’s smaller than a 12-week fetus)
- You do not wish to become pregnant
- You are anemic – at three months post IUD insertion, many women’s anemia levels return to normal
- You desire a normal flow – at three months post IUD insertion, 85% of women with fibroids report their menstrual cycles have normalized.
Getting an IUD for Fibroids
The truth is that the best treatment for fibroids will depend on your specific situation, but if you are interested in an IUD for fibroid symptoms, talk to your doctor. Together you and your doctor can talk about all the treatment options for fibroids including hormonal therapy, uterine artery embolization, myomectomy and hysterectomy.