Middle-aged woman

Ovarian cysts vs. uterine fibroids

Many women experience ovarian cysts or uterine fibroids in their lifetime. While they occur in different parts of the female reproductive system, their symptoms can be hard to differentiate.

Ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form in or on the ovaries. The most common type of ovarian cyst is a functional cyst, which often forms during the menstrual cycle. These occur in most women, especially during childbearing years. Most cysts do not cause any symptoms and go away on their own, but large cysts may cause pelvic pain, weight gain and frequent urination.

Ovarian cysts are often identified during a pelvic exam and confirmed after an ultrasound is performed. There are a number of treatment options available that range from watchful waiting or surgery (laparoscopy or laparotomy) to remove the cyst.

Uterine fibroids

Fibroids grow in the wall of the uterus and are sometimes called fibroid tumors, but they are not cancerous (benign). They are most common in women in their 40s and early 50s, and two to five times more common in African American women than Caucasian women.

Your doctor may find that you have fibroids when you see her or him for a regular pelvic exam and may request that you have imaging tests (ultrasound, MRI, X-rays, etc.) performed to confirm.

While most women won't have resulting health issues, some women may experience pressure in the belly, low back pain, heavy periods, painful sex, or trouble getting pregnant.

Women with mild symptoms are often prescribed medication. If you have fibroids with moderate or severe symptoms, surgery is usually the best method to treat the fibroids. There are many surgical options including hysterectomies that remove the entire uterus and uterine fibroid embolization, a minimally invasive treatment that shrinks the fibroids.

Next steps

In both cases, cysts and fibroids, consult with your physician if you are exhibiting symptoms, and discuss the treatment option that is best for you. To learn more about how UFE might help, watch a FREE video presentation from expert Karen Ehrman, MD.

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