Fibroids are growths that can grow inside, in or outside a woman’s uterus. They can either be very big or very little to the point where it does not show any signs or symptoms.
Doctors still don’t know exactly what causes fibroids, they are also known as myomas and are tumors of the smooth muscle of the uterus, the uterus is a big ball of smooth muscle, but there are some things that can increase the chances of a person getting fibroids:
- Age (older women are at higher risk than younger women)
- African American race, Black women
- Being obese
- Having a family history of fibroids
- High blood pressure
- Nulliparity (no history of ever having children)
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Using food additives
- Use of soybean milk
Fibroids are classified into different kinds based on their location in the uterus
Intramural: These types are the most common, they are within the muscle of the uterus.
Subserosal: These types from on the outside if the uterus, they are closely attached to the outward covering of the uterus
Submucosal: These types grow on the inside of the uterus, just under the muscle layer
Peduncles: These types usually hang off the surface of the uterus attached by a stem to the uterus
There are many theories including that of hormones that say that the female hormones like Estrogen and Progesterone stimulate the growth of these fibroids, but research is still ongoing as to how exactly this causes fibroids
It is also key to note that Fibroids are not cancerous but very rarely, some may transform into cancerous growths, this is even estimated to happen about 0.2% of the time, which is pretty small
What are some of the symptoms of Fibroids?
Many women do not even know they may have fibroids, this is because of the size as the size and position of the fibroids can lead to the symptoms you feel
Very small fibroids may not have any symptoms, however, as they grow and/or multiply, they may begin to give symptoms like:
- Heavy bleeding
- Lower abdominal pain
- Bleeding in-between periods
- Too frequent urination
- Pain during intercourse
- Painful periods
- Swelling or a bulge in the lower abdomen, may resemble pregnancy
How do I know for sure?
You will need to see a doctor, preferably a gynecologist, he/she will ask you questions surrounding your symptoms to get a clearer picture, this helps your doctor reach a diagnosis,
Your doctor will also examine you and request for test and imaging tests like ultrasound to help your doctor see the fibroids and their positions, they may also request blood tests to know if you have lost enough blood and to also rule out some other causes of your symptoms, leave it to them, they have been trained for this
How will I be treated?
Your treatment will be personalized to you, depending on the size and symptoms and other conditions you may or may not have.
But before you start treatment some dietary changes can help as well, Avoid red meat and also losing weight if you are obese can be beneficial
Some drugs can help to shrink your fibroids to make it easier to remove if your doctor is considering surgery or if you are getting close to menopause, some drugs will also be given to you to help ease the pain, like analgesics
- Even birth control pills can be given to manage bleeding and the pain caused by fibroids
Surgery may be the option for you
Fibroids that are very large or numerous can require surgery, also they can also be affecting conception and hence should be taken out
It can either be performed by a cut through the abdomen or be done via a small opening and tools passed through to help remove them, this type is called laparoscopy.
Fibroids might grow back after surgery.
Some people may have really bad fibroids that may not respond to treatment or the bleeding may be so profuse that the uterus may have to be removed, this is not common
There are also other methods like using soundwaves to destroy the fibroids inside the uterus, so others employ instruments that burn off the fibroids, or the arteries that feed the fibroids are blood, a process called embolization, your doctor will discuss these methods with you to find out which one best suits you?
Will I have children in the future?
This depends on the position and size of the fibroids, also some fibroids are too small and may not interfere with pregnancy,
Some fibroids may interfere with pregnancy and people go on to have children.