DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I read your response to a question about treating fibroids. I was surprised that you did not mention uterine artery embolization. I had it done, and I could resume all my normal activities in short order. — K.N.

Many writers were surprised I did not mention this procedure. So was I. An addendum to the fibroid story is needed.

The wall of the uterus is muscle. Fibroids are noncancerous growths of that muscle. They can be silent, without a single sign or symptom, or they can cause trouble. Excessive menstrual bleeding is one example of the trouble fibroids might cause. So is a feeling of pressure in the pelvis.

At age 35, one in every four or five women has at least one fibroid. As the years add up, the percentage of women with fibroids approaches 50.

I won’t repeat the nonsurgical methods of dealing with fibroids that I mentioned in the previous article. I did omit uterine fibroid embolization, UFE. It’s a relatively new and clever technique for treating troublemaking fibroids.

The doctor inserts a catheter — a slender, soft, pliable tube — into a groin artery and guides it to the artery that brings blood to the fibroid. When the tube reaches that destination, the doctor injects a substance that closes the artery. Special miniature beads, Gelfoam (a packing material) and polyvinyl alcohol are examples of the material that is used to close the fibroid’s artery.

Deprived of blood, the fibroid shrivels and is absorbed by the body.

For more information on fibroids, readers can order the pamphlet on that topic by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 1106, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.50 U.S/$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: What can you tell me about molluscum contagiosum? Is this something new? The doctors say it is a virus, that a lot of children have it and that it will just go away. My granddaughter, 7 years old, has it on her thigh, stomach and ankle. How should it be treated? — R.E.

Molluscum contagiosum is quite common, and it has been around since the dawn of man’s history. A virus does cause it. Children get it more often than adults, but adults can also come down with it.

The virus produces an eruption of flesh-colored or white, tiny, dome-shaped bumps less than 0.4 inches (1 cm) in diameter. The center of the bump develops a depression, making the bump look like a miniature volcano. Cheesy material sometimes seeps from the bumps.

The extent of involvement ranges from one or two bumps to more than a hundred. In children, the face, limbs and trunk are the usual places that the virus inhabits. In adults, genital skin is the preferred site.

Treatments include freezing them, scraping them off the skin with a special instrument or dabbing them with a number of lotions. The quantity and location of the bumps dictate the choice of treatment. Sometimes the best treatment is ignoring them. Too-aggressive treatment could scar the skin.

Most cases resolve within months to a year or longer.

If your daughter would like to try a home remedy, have her put surgical tape, found in drugstores, over one or two bumps and reapply the tape after the child washes. The tape needs to be used for four months. If the trial run works, then she can cover more bumps — at least the more noticeable ones.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My husband loves garlic, but we read conflicting articles on its value. One article says it lowers cholesterol. Another says it interferes with diabetes medicine. Who is right? It does stop mosquitoes from biting. My husband is proof of that. — N.N.

Garlic has a slight cholesterol-lowering effect for some people. I can’t find a reference that states it interferes with diabetes medicine. Your husband can have it without fear.

I plan to test its mosquito-repellent property this summer. I’ll let you know the results.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

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