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Uterine Fibroid: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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Fibroids is an abnormal tumor or a beingn ( noncancerous) that grows in the wall of the uterus (womb).

In most cases not all fibroids have symptoms, the symptoms may vary such as causing severe abdominal pains or heavy periods. Treatment for uterine fibroids depends on your symptoms.

Fibroids can grow as a single tumor, or there can be many of them in the uterus. They can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. In unusual cases, they can become very large.

Fibroids are also known by the following names:

  • myomas
  • uterine myomas
  • leiomyomas
  • fibromas

What Causes Fibroids

Many factors can influence the formation.

Family history

the history of the family can influence the formation. For instance, if any member of your family has a history of this condition ( mother, sister, grandmother) it’s likely that you may also develop it.

Hormones

Estrogen and progesterone are the hormones generated by the ovaries. They cause the uterine lining to reconstruct during each menstrual cycle and may stimulate the growth of fibroids.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy enhances the creation of estrogen and progesterone in your body. Fibroids may form and grow rapidly while you’re pregnant.

Eating habits

Consuming a lot of red meat (e.g., beef) and ham is linked with a higher risk of fibroids. Consuming plenty of green vegetables seems to protect women from developing fibroids.

Obesity

Women who are overweight are at greater risk for fibroids. For very heavy women, the risk is two to three times greater than average.

 What are the different types of fibroids?

The type develops defers on its location in or on the uterus.

Subserosal fibroids

Subserosal fibroids develop on the outside of your uterus, which is called the serosa. They may grow large enough to make your womb appear bigger on one side.

Intramural fibroids

Intramural fibroids are the most common type of fibroid. These types appear within the muscular wall of the uterus. Intramural fibroids may grow larger and can stretch your womb.

Pedunculated fibroids

Subserosal tumors can develop a stem, a slender base that supports the tumor. When they do, they’re known as pedunculated fibroids.

Submucosal fibroids

These types of tumors form in the middle muscle layer, or myometrium, of your uterus. Submucosal tumors aren’t as common as the other types.

What are the symptoms of fibroids?

The symptoms depend on the number of tumors you have as well as their position and size. For example, submucosal fibroids may cause trouble conceiving and heavy menstrual bleeding.

However, if your tumor is very little or you’re going into menopause, you may likely not have any symptoms. Fibroids may shrink during and after menopause. This is because women undergoing menopause are undergoing a drop in their levels of estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that stimulate fibroid growth.

Symptoms of fibroids may include:

  • pain in the pelvis or lower back
  • increased menstrual cramping
  • heavy bleeding between or during your periods that includes blood clots
  • increased urination
  • pain during intercourse
  • swelling or enlargement of the abdomen
  • menstruation that lasts longer than usual
  • pressure or fullness in your lower abdomen
  • Reproductive problems, such as infertility, which is very rare
  • Complications during pregnancy and labor, including a six-time greater risk of cesarean section

Can fibroids turn into cancer?

Fibroids are always benign (not cancerous). Rarely (less than one in 1,000) a cancerous fibroid will occur.

This is called a leiomyosarcoma. Doctors assume that certain cancers do not arise from an already-existing fibroid. Having fibroids also does not raise a woman’s chances of getting other forms of cancer in the uterus.

What if I become pregnant and have fibroids?

Researchers review that women who have fibroids are more possible to have problems during pregnancy and delivery. Most women with fibroids have healthy pregnancies. The most typical problems observed in women with fibroids are:

  • Cesarean section. 
  • The baby is breech. 
  • Labor fails to progress.
  • Placental abruption. 
  • Preterm delivery.

Speak to your obstetrician if you have fibroids and become pregnant.

All obstetricians have knowledge dealing with fibroids and pregnancy. However, most women who have fibroids and become pregnant do not need to see an OB who deals with high-risk pregnancies.

How do I know for sure that I have fibroids?

Your doctor can do imaging tests to confirm that you have fibroids. These are tests that create a “picture” of the inside of your body without surgery. These tests might include:

  • Ultrasound: Uses sound waves to produce the picture. The ultrasound probe can be placed on the abdomen or it can be placed inside the vagina to make the picture.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Uses magnets and radio waves to produce the picture
  • X-rays: Uses a form of radiation to see into the body and produce the picture
  • Cat scan (CT): Takes many X-ray pictures of the body from different angles for a more complete image
  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) or sonohysterogram – An HSG involves injecting x-ray dye into the uterus and taking x-ray pictures.

Surgery might also be involved. There are two types of surgery to do this:

  • Hysteroscopy
  • Laparoscopy

What are the questions you need to ask your doctor if indicated

  • How many fibroids do I have?
  • What size is my fibroid(s)?
  • Where is my fibroid(s) located (outer surface, inner surface, or in the wall of the uterus)?
  • How rapidly have they grown (if they were known about already)?
  • How will I know if the fibroid(s) is growing larger?
  • What are my treatment options if my fibroid(s) becomes a problem?
  • Can I expect the fibroid(s) to grow larger?
  • What problems can the fibroid(s) cause?
  • What are your views on treating fibroids with a hysterectomy versus other types of treatments?

Medications

If you have fibroids and have mild symptoms, your doctor may suggest taking medication. Over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used for mild pain.

If you have heavy bleeding during your period, taking an iron supplement can keep you from getting anemia or correct it if you already are anemic.

Many drugs usually used for birth control can be prescribed to ease control symptoms of fibroids. Low-dose birth control pills do not make fibroids grow and can help control heavy bleeding.

The same is true of progesterone-like injections (e.g., Depo-Provera). An IUD (intrauterine device) called Mirena contains a small amount of progesterone-like medication, which can be used to control heavy bleeding as well as for birth control.

Additional drugs used to treat fibroids are “gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists” (GnRHa). The one most commonly used is Lupron.

These drugs, given by injection, nasal spray, or implanted, can shrink your fibroids. Sometimes they are used before surgery to make fibroids easier to remove.

Side effects of GnRHas can include hot flashes, depression, not being able to sleep, decreased sex drive, and joint pain. Most women tolerate GnRHas quite well. Most women do not get a period when taking GnRHas.

This can be a big relief to women who have heavy bleeding. It also allows women with anemia to recover to a normal blood count. GnRHas can cause bone thinning, so their use is generally limited to six months or less.

These drugs also are very expensive, and some insurance companies will cover only some or none of the cost. GnRHas offer temporary relief from the symptoms of fibroids; once you stop taking the drugs, the fibroids often grow back quickly.

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