There are millions of women around the world who have to deal with uterine fibroids. In the event that you happen to be diagnosed with fibroids, here is information that you should know.
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids, also known as myoma or leiomyoma, are benign (non-cancerous) masses of muscle and tissue found inside, or just outside the uterus. The size of a fibroid can be as small as a seed or as large as a lemon. Recent studies indeed point to these type of fibroids being common, with an estimated 20% to 80% of women developing fibroids by the time they hit the age of 50.
African women and those of African descent are at a higher risk of developing fibroids in comparison to other race groups. According to the United States National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the condition known as Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, which causes scarring alongside hair loss is very common among this group of women. Recent research suggests that women with this type of alopecia are at a heightened risk of developing fibroids.
Classification of Uterine Fibroids
There are three types of fibroids which are classified as
- Submucosal uterine fibroids – The least common type of fibroids. They grow slightly beneath the surface of the lining of the uterus and protrude outward. They are capable of causing severe bladder pressure and back pain but have little to no impact on menstrual flow.
- Subserosal uterine fibroids – They form outside of the uterus but protrude inward. This type of fibroid has been known to cause heavy and extended bleeding, and in severe cases, even anaemia.
- Intramural uterine fibroids – The commonest form of fibroids. They grow on the muscular wall of the uterus and cause severe back and pelvic pain as well as heavy menstrual bleeding.
It has remained difficult to conclusively figure out what exactly causes the uterine fibroids although family genetics and high estrogen levels have been identified as potential causes. Other possible causes of fibroids include growth hormones as well as major stresses.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Many women who develop fibroids may not experience any symptoms since they are too small to be noticed. However, when these symptoms present themselves, they do so in the following ways:
- Weight gain
- Frequent need to urinate
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- Pain during intercourse
- Bloated feeling in the lower abdomen
- Heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding
It is important to seek professional medical advice in the event that you suspect that you have fibroids. Regular pelvic exams, ultrasounds, MRI’s and hysteroscopy can detect and even diagnose fibroids.
Strides in medicine have resulted in the availability of several treatment options. These treatment options are however determined by the patient’s age, size and position` of the fibroids. Vitamins and supplements have been known to reduce the growth and size of the fibroids
There are for example non-invasive alternatives such as Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) which is a procedure used to treat fibroid tumours of the uterus which can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and pressure on the bladder or bowel. It uses a form of real-time x-ray called fluoroscopy to guide the delivery of embolic agents to the uterus and fibroids.
This non-surgical procedure lasts less than an hour and is performed under local anaesthetic and sedation. It also has a very high success rate, with 71% to 92% of all patients experiencing relief from fibroid symptoms and significant fibroid shrinkage.
We also have surgical procedures such as the hysterectomy where the uterus is removed. This is an option to be considered when one no longer desires to get pregnant.
Unlike the hysterectomy, which removes the entire uterus, the myomectomy is a surgical procedure to only remove the fibroids. This procedure is a good option for women who still want to have children, however, there are risks involved since this is still considered an invasive surgery. Complications can include blood loss, uterine scarring that impairs fertility and a higher chance of fibroid regrowth.
If fibroids are affecting your daily life, it is important to seek medical professional advice and treatment. But remember, invasive procedures, such as a hysterectomy, should be the very last resort to treating them.
We hope that this has been an educative and informative read. You can log on to MYDAWA for an array of health and wellness products.4