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Fibroids

Fibroids are benign tumors which occur in the uterus. Sometimes uterine fibroids called myomas or leiomyomas. These tumors are non-cancerous and they develop from normal uterus muscle cells that start growing abnormally and they don’t spread to other parts of body. These tumors composed of muscle and fibrous tissue.

According to medical statistics, uterine fibroids are pretty common – many women could have it at some point in life. In most cases they are too small to cause any problems or even be noticed. Usually fibroid sizes increase with age – they tend to develop after puberty up to menopause but after menopause they usually start shrinking and even sometimes they can disappear (when estrogen levels fall). Uterine fibroid sizes could be different – from microscopic to dozens of cm (as big as basketball). Some women could have only one fibroid but most often women suffer from several fibroids.

Fibroids are most common benign tumors noted in women – by age 45-50 about 70-75% of women develop at least one fibroid. Causes are not known but according to scientists the growth of these benign tumors depends on estrogen levels.

Several publications highlight that African-American women tend to get uterine fibroids 2-3 times as often as white women, and also tend to have more severe symptoms.

Fibroids

Fibroids risk factor

  • Genetic factor – women with family history of uterine fibroids (grandmother, mother, aunts, and sisters) are more likely to have them;
  • Absence of pregnancy – women who have had children are less likely to get fibroids;
  • Early menarche – women with early first menstrual period (before 10) have higher chances to get uterine fibroid;
  • Birth control pills users – as levels of estrogen is suppressed by pills, contraceptive pills users are less likely to develop uterine fibroid;
  • Obesity – fibroids are more common among overweight women.

Fibroid types

Fibroid can appear in different location – these tumors usually classified by where they grow in the uterus.

Subserosal fibroid grows from the outside wall of the uterus into the space of pelvis.

Intramural (myometrial) fibroid grows within the muscular wall of uterus.

Submucosal fibroid grows just under the interior surface of the uterus and could protrude into the uterus. If fibroid grows and extends into the interior of the uterus, it called intracavitary fibroid. This type of fibroids can distort the shape of uterus.

Pedunculated fibroid usually grows outside of the uterus (from external wall) – it is just attached by a narrow stalk.

Fibroids symptoms

Symptoms depend on the number of fibroids, their size and locations. Large tumors are more likely trigger adequate severe symptoms.

  • Uterine bleeding (moderate or heavy) – during menstrual periods or between periods and sometimes leading to anaemia;
  • Pelvic pain and/or swelling – pain could appear if tumor twists (cutting off its blood supply) or if tumor grows too large and blood supply is reducing dramatically causing degeneration and pain.
  • Urination problems – urge to urinate frequently or urgently; it happens if the tumor is pressing on your bladder.
  • Constipation – it happens if tumor is pressing on your bowel
  • Enlarged abdomen – could happen only if women have several big size tumors.
  • Infertility – tumors can cause infertility by blocking Fallopian tubes or by distorting the shape of the uterus, making implantation of the fertilized egg difficult or impossible.
  • Pregnancy complication – including repeated miscarriages, preterm labor, abnormal baby positioning and excessive blood loss after delivery (postpartum hemorrhage).

Fibroids diagnosis

Diagnosis should be organized in specialized clinics by experienced experts as treatment methods should be based on diagnostic tests which include the following:

  • Ultrasound scanning,
  • Hysteroscopy with or without biopsy,
  • Hysterosalpingography,
  • MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging),
  • Laparoscopy,
  • Blood tests (in cases of anaemia).

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