Medication-Related Treatments for Fibroids

Depending on your symptoms, your health care provider may suggest medical treatments that can reduce the symptoms of fibroids or stop their growth. Certain medical treatments to reduce fibroid size and blood loss may be used in combination with other treatments.

Common medical treatments for fibroids include:1,2

  • Pain medicine. Over-the-counter or prescription medicine is often used for mild or occasional pain from fibroids.
  • Birth control pills or other types of hormonal birth control. These medicines help control heavy bleeding and painful periods. However, this therapy can sometimes cause fibroids to grow larger.
  • Progestin-releasing intrauterine device (IUD). The hormonal IUD, also called intrauterine contraception (IUC), reduces heavy and painful bleeding but does not treat the fibroids themselves. It is not recommended for women who have very large fibroids, which can block the uterine cavity.
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa). These medicines block the body from making the hormones that cause women to ovulate and have their periods. The medicines also reduce the size of fibroids. Because this treatment can cause side effects that mimic the symptoms of menopause (such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness) and bone loss (which weakens the bones), it is not meant for long-term use. Most of the time, these medicines are used for a short time to reduce the size of fibroids before surgery or to treat anemia. If you need to take this treatment for a long time, the doctor may prescribe different medicine to put back the hormones that were blocked.
  • Antihormonal agents or hormone modulators (such as selective progesterone receptor modulators). These drugs, which include ulipristal acetate, mifepristone, and letrozole, can slow or stop the growth of fibroids, reduce bleeding, and improve symptoms.

Medical treatments may give only temporary relief from the symptoms of fibroids. Once you stop the treatment, fibroids can grow back and symptoms can return.

Medicines are generally safe, but they can have side effects, some of which may be serious. Be sure to talk to your health care provider about the possible side effects of any medical treatment you consider.

Citations

    1. Drayer, S. M., & Catherino, W. H. (2015). Prevalence, morbidity, and current medical management of uterine leiomyomas. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 131(2), 117–122. Retrieved October 19, 2018, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020729215004786 
    2. PubMed Health. (2014). Uterine fibroids: Hormone therapies. Retrieved June 28, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072716/

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