A fibroid is a noncancerous (or benign) muscular tumor that grows in an organ. When such benign growth occurs in the uterus, it is a uterine fibroid. It usually appears during childbearing years and in medically known as “leiomyomas” or “myomas”.
Most uterine fibroid does are benign or noncancerous and almost never becomes cancerous. However, one in every one thousand myomas cases may develop into cancer, this is medically referred to as, “leiomyosarcoma”.
Fibroids do not have fixed sizes. They could be as big as a watermelon or as small as an apple. It could be singular or multiple.
Between 20 to 80 percent of women aged 40 and above develop fibroids. Large fibroids could be mistaken for pregnancy as they usually cause a woman’s stomach to enlarge.
It is not certain what really causes fibroids. However, due to any of these factors, fibroids can grow in the uterus. Genes, Age, Obesity, Ethnicity (reports show that African-American women run a greater risk than white women), eating habits.
It is also unknown what causes them to increase or reduce in size. However, they grow rapidly during pregnancy and shrink or stop growing when an anti-hormone medication is used or when a woman reaches menopause. Therefore, their growth is influenced by hormones, particularly, progesterone and estrogen.
Where symptoms manifest, they include, enlargement of the lower abdomen, painful intercourse, infertility (rare symptom), heavy bleeding (enough to cause anemia), frequent urination, painful menstrual periods, lower back pain, enlarged lower abdomen, labor complications leading to cesarean section, etc.
Types of Uterine Fibroids
This categorization is dependent on the part of the uterus where the fibroid grows.
- Submucosal: A benign growth in the uterine cavity.
- Intramural: Fibroids within the wall of the Uterus.
- Subserosal: A fibroid growth just outside the Uterus.
Pregnancy and Fibroids
Where a woman falls pregnant while growing a fibroid and vice versa, she may experience some complications during pregnancy and delivery. They include:
- Placental Abruption: Where the placenta breaks away from the wall of the uterus.
- Cesarean Section: The possibility of needing this is six times greater for women suffering fibroids.
- Labor Failure: This is where labor fails to progress.
- Preterm Delivery: Birth before 9 months has elapsed.
- Baby is Breech: The baby’s position is wrong for vaginal delivery.
Since fibroids may occur without symptoms, routine checks usually reveal them. Doctors can discover fibroids through:
- Pelvic examination: By inserting their fingers in the vagina up to the uterus, a doctor can discover a (mostly painless) lump and determine the size by comparing it to how big the uterus would be if the patient were pregnant.
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): Injecting x-ray dye in the uterus to take x-ray pictures.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Using magnets and radio waves to produce pictures.
- Ultrasound: Sound waves are used to produce images.
- Sonohysterogram: Injecting water in the uterus to produce ultrasound pictures.
- Cat Scan (CT): Many x-ray pictures are taken from different angles.
- Hysteroscopy: Camera examination of your uterine cavity.
This is dependent on the symptoms (if any), size of the fibroids, pregnancy plans, age of the patient, and location of the fibroids. Treatment ranges from medication to surgery. Patients not always need hysterectomy. Hysterectomy can be avoided in most cases. Uterine fibroid embolization is a great procedure for symptomatic fibroids.
Visit us at Progressive Women's Health for more information, diagnosis and treatment.