Fibroids And The Pill
Fibroids are extremely common, benign tumors of the uterus. There is no
medication to "cure" fibroids, but there are a number of drugs available to
control symptoms, from pain management to actually shrinking the fibroid.
The mainstay of treatment is over the counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs) to treat mild pain symptoms. Birth control pills with small amounts
of estrogen have also been used as a form of therapy. Even though fibroids
are estrogen sensitive, the small amount of estrogen in most contraceptive pills
is enough to "turn off" the body's natural production of estrogen in the ovaries
and not enough to stimulate fibroid tissue growth. On the contrary, the "pill"
is useful to reduce cramping and heavy menstrual bleeding. Many women mistakenly
think that if they have fibroids, they can't take oral contraception. This
may be in part because of the impact of older data from the time when birth
control pills contained much higher estrogen levels. It may also be in part
due to confusion with the estrogen in hormone replacement therapy for menopausal
women, which can, in fact, stimulate fibroids to grow.
While birth control pills may provide some symptom relief, they have no effect
on the growth rates of fibroids in either direction. There are other hormones
called gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRH agonists), such as Lupron
Depot®, Synarel® and Depo Provera® which limit
estrogen activity, creating an artificial state of menopause (called "medical
menopause"). Lack of estrogen does slow the growth of fibroids and can
even cause them to shrink.
Created: 12/9/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.