What are they?
They are abnormal growths in or on a woman’s uterus. Sometimes, these tumors become quite large and cause severe abdominal pain and heavy periods.
In other cases, they do not cause any signs or symptoms. The growths are usually benign (not cancerous).
What causes Uterine Fibroids?
It is unclear why fibroids develop, but several factors can influence their formation.
Estrogen and progesterone are the hormones produced by the ovaries. They cause the lining of the uterus to regenerate during each menstrual cycle and can stimulate the growth of fibroids.
Fibroids can occur in the family. If your mother, sister, or grandmother has a history of this condition, it is possible to develop it.
Pregnancy increases the production of estrogen and progesterone in your body. Fibroids can develop and grow during pregnancy.
What are the symptoms?
Your symptoms will depend on the location and size of the tumor and the number of tumors. If the cancer is microscopic or you are going through menopause, you may not have any symptoms.
Fibroids can shrink during and after menopause.
Symptoms of fibroids may include:
- Heavy bleeding between or during periods that include blood clots.
- Pain in the pelvis and lower back.
- Increase in menstrual cramps.
- Increased urination
- Pain during intercourse
- Menstruation that lasts longer than usual.
- Pressure or inflammation of the lower abdomen.
- Swelling or enlargement of the stomach.
How are Uterine Fibroids diagnosed?
You should see a gynecologist to get a pelvic exam. This test is used to check your uterus’s condition, size, and shape. You may also need other tests, which include:
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of your uterus on a screen. This will allow the doctor to see the internal structures and any fibroids.
A transvaginal ultrasound, in which the ultrasound transducer is inserted into the vagina, can provide more explicit images since it is closer to the uterus during this procedure.
Pelvic Magnetic Resonance
These in-depth imaging tests produce images of your uterus, ovaries, and other pelvic organs.
What are the treatments for Uterine Fibroids?
The doctor will develop a treatment plan based on age, fibroid size, and overall health.
You can receive a combination of treatments.
Medications to regulate hormone levels may be prescribed to reduce fibroids. This will eventually stop menstruation and reduce fibroids.
Other options that can help control bleeding and pain, but do not shrink or eliminate fibroids, include:
- Over-the-counter analgesics, anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen.
- Birth control pills.
Surgery to remove very large or multiple tumors (myomectomy) can be done. An abdominal myomectomy involves making a large incision in the abdomen to access the uterus and remove the fibroids.
The surgery can also be performed laparoscopically, using a pair of small incisions in which surgical instruments and a camera are inserted.