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"Can one detect uterine fibroids visually?"
Is it possible for my OBGYN to determine whether I have uterine fibroids just by giving me a visual examination? I get very nervous around medical equipment like scanners and x-rays, and I'd like to avoid that kind of thing if at all possible.
Fibroids may be detected on a regular pelvic physical exam if they are large enough. They would not be visualized during a speculum exam, but rather felt by your physician during a bimanual exam (i.e. when one hand's fingers are inserted into the vagina and one hand is pressing on the skin on top of the lower abdomen). However, this is not a perfect test and is not the preferred way to detect the presence of fibroids. Rather than using large scanners and x-rays, your physician can use an ultrasound probe to visualize the fibroids. Ultrasound uses sound waves to form pictures, and is the same as a sonogram used to see an unborn child. It is simple, quick, and does not expose you to any radiation. Often times, pelvic ultrasound will involve a probe that is briefly inserted into the vagina to get the best pictures of the fibroids. The exam will also involve placing the probe on the skin of the lower abdomen to get a complete view of the uterus. You should have a discussion with your Ob/Gyn physician regarding the need to detect your fibroids (i.e., are they causing symptoms?) and if ultrasound is something that could be helpful to your treatment plan.
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