Fibroids are Abnormal but non-cancerous growth in or on a woman’s uterus. They often don’t cause symptoms, and their presence may not be known or felt. Sometimes, however, they grow too large and cause the host several discomforts. Fibroids are known by many names, which include leiomyomas, myomas, uterine myoma, and fibromas. But we’ll just stick to Fibroids.
According to the college of medicine UI, over 100,000 cases are recorded in Nigeria yearly. The office on women’s health also reports that up to 80 percent of women already have one or more by the age of fifty.
Fibroids are usually not harmful, but symptoms like heavy menstruation can, in severe cases, cause anemia — red blood cell deficiency — and may require a blood transfusion to recover lost blood. Also, they can affect reproduction in many ways than one: from preventing pregnancy to complicating delivery.
Types of Fibroids
There are different types of fibroid — 4 actually. 3 are classified based on their location, and one is classified based on its shape. They are:
- Intramural fibroid
- Submucosal fibroid
- Subserosal fibroid; and
- Pedunculated fibroid
An intramural fibroid is a fibroid that grows in the muscular wall of the womb. When it’s large enough, it may cause reproductive problems.
This is a fibroid that grows in the uterine cavity. It can hinder an embryo from implanting, and by extension, prevent it from growing into a fetus.
This is a Fibroid that grows outside the uterus. It does not directly affect reproduction.
When a fibroid has a stem or stalk beneath it to make an illusion of a plant, it is called a Pedunculated Fibroid. It often takes the shape of a mushroom 🍄.
Causes of Fibroids
The causes of Fibroids are not yet clear to man. Their development, so far, has proven itself a mystery. However, having observed them for a long time, some things have been linked to their development.
Fibroids have been discovered to grow only when a girl enters puberty. Depending on certain factors, their growth may last till the host clocks 50 — the general deadline for reproduction and startline for menopause.
It’s been concluded, based on observation, that fibroids develop or grow faster during pregnancy. This is chiefly because of the increased levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body system.
Fibroids have been found to recur in a bloodline. If someone in your family has it, there’s a high chance you’d have it too.
Fibroids were found to be more popular with fat and obese women than with slender ones. However, there’s no proof exercising or losing weight will shrink fibroids.
There’s barely a thing in our lives in which our diet and food choices don’t have a say. A new study confirms that alcohol, red meat, and caffeine consumption could increase one’s risk of Fibroids.
Some studies have also reported that fibroids are more common among black women. Other races have them too, but not to the same degree.
Who Can Have Fibroids
Any woman can have fibroids. However, you’re at a higher risk of Fibroids if
- Someone (probably older) in the family has it
- You’re above the healthy BMI (18.5 – 24.9)
- You’re 30 or older
- You’re still giving birth
Symptoms of Fibroids
A research study published by USA Today notes that 1 out 3 fibroid-positive women will show symptoms. These symptoms include
Heavy bleeding while menstruating and increased menstrual cramps are common symptoms. Also, if your period window remains open for longer than it normally does, you should go for a check-up; it might be Fibroids.
You may experience pain in or around the pelvis and/or the lower back when pressure is applied to it.
Other symptoms you might experience from Fibroids include a feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen, pain during sexual intercourse, and a swollen tummy.
Note that whether you’ll suffer symptoms or not depends mainly on the size, number, and location of the Fibroids you have. Furthermore, you’re less likely to develop symptoms once you hit menopause. This is because they often shrink at this stage due to the drop in estrogen and progesterone levels.
About 2-thirds of women will show no sign of fibroids’ presence in their system, and they may never know they ever had it. However, fibroids may be discovered incidentally during a pelvic scan.
If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms listed above and you think you might have a fibroid, you’ll need to talk to a gynecologist — someone trained in the science of the diseases of women and pregnancy. One of these methods may be employed in diagnosing the severity of a fibroid.
This is the same scan used in scanning pregnancies. It uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the uterus. This image will be rendered on a screen, and it will allow the doctor to see the uterus.
Transvaginal Ultrasound Scan
This is still an ultrasound Scan. The difference is just that the Ultrasound wand is inserted into the vagina.
More advanced than the Ultrasound Scan, MRI Scan will also provide images of all your pelvic organs. Including the uterus and ovaries.
CT scan is an improvement on x-ray. It combines many x-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views. 3D images can also be rendered if needed.
This is more like an extension of the Ultrasound Scan. During the scan, a contrast fluid is introduced into the uterus through the vaginal passage. The contrast fluid helps to outline any shape and mass in the endometrial cavity.
Can Fibroids be Treated?
Well, if you have no symptoms from fibroids, even if you’re aware of their presence, it advised that you leave them alone. If, however, you’ve seen signs that worry you, you’ll have to go for scans and tests before a treatment plan can be designed for you, depending on your age and size of the tumor (s).
You may be placed on medication by your doctor or undergo a surgical procedure to get the fibroids removed.
A more recent treatment, known as MRI-guided high-intensity Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS), allows high-intensity sound waves to be focussed on the fibroids to destroy them.
Another treatment option known as Uterine Artery Embolization follows a procedure in which the doctor will attempt to cut off blood supply to the fibroids.