Almost a third of women ages 25 to 44 have symptoms of fibroids, and if you're among them, you can probably thank your mom. Your risk of developing the mostly benign, estrogen-fueled uterine tumors—known for causing heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pressure, and possible complications with pregnancy—roughly triples if your mother had them. And African American women's risk of developing them is three times greater than that of white women.

A generation ago, the standard fix for fibroids was hysterectomy or myomectomy (which removes only fibroids, though new ones can still grow). Treatment has since become less invasive, with X-ray-guided and laparoscopic procedures, as well as hormonal treatments like progestin-releasing IUDs. Yet there's still room for improvement when it comes to fertility and recovery. The good news: Two promising new options are on the horizon.

Ulipristal, currently available as an emergency contraceptive, is being tested as a treatment for fibroid symptoms. The pill blocks the effects of progesterone (the steroid hormone that triggers the uterus to prepare for pregnancy), and it's been shown to stop heavy bleeding and shrink fibroids. "Women can take Ulipristal to treat their symptoms, then consider pregnancy when they're ready," says ob-gyn Alyse Kelly-Jones, MD, of Novant Health Mintview Obstetrics & Gynecology in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now in phase 3 trials expected to be completed this year, Ulipristal could be the first long-term oral medication for the treatment of fibroids.

The Sonata System ultrasonic device, also in trials, can destroy fibroids in an outpatient procedure that could take only 30 minutes, says ob-gyn Vadim Morozov, MD, a University of Maryland assistant professor and a principal investigator on the Sonata study. One session can treat up to five 5-centimeter fibroids with minimal recovery time, compared with the two to four weeks for laparoscopic surgery. No doubt Mom would approve.


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