Uterine fibroids or plainly called fibroids are medically known as uterine leiomyomas. They are tumors that are benign which are caused due to overgrowth from both the smooth muscles and the connective tissues found within the uterus.
They are the most common tumors that usually affects women that are still within their reproductive and child-bearing years. Once a woman is above 50 years of Age, the tendency to have uterine fibroids drop to almost about 70%.
Most fibroids grow in clusters. The exact cause of this growth is not known yet although most researchers say that fibroids are a result of the growth of an abnormal smooth muscle cell which due to the action of the female hormone (oestrogen) will grow and also multiply rapidly. Since they are benign tumors, they would hardly lead to cancer.
Though the exact cause of fibroids is not known yet but there are other factors that may increase one’s chances of getting uterine fibroids and those factors include:
Researchers have found out during their research and study that most fibroids contain several changes in the genes found in them which are different in an abnormal way from the types of genes present in a normal uterine muscle cell.
The role of female hormone
There are two basic female hormones that are produced in the ovary and they include progesterone and oestrogen. These two hormones causes and increases the development of the internal lining of the uterus which usually occurs during a female’s menstrual cycle for the preparation of pregnancy.
This normal action however of both hormones tend to likewise promote the growth of uterine fibroids. This is said to be so because according to research, it has been seen that a growth of fibroid show markers for cells that are recipients of this hormones.
In other words, fibroids usually contain more oestrogen and progesterone receptor cells, even much more than the normal uterine muscle receptor cells.
So, the more the production of this hormones, the higher the increase of these abnormal fibroid cells and the larger the fibroid grows.
However, when a woman passes the child-bearing and reproductive stage, these fibroids tends to reduce in size and shrink due to the fact of the little or no production of menstrual hormones and hence no increase in these abnormal cells.
Obesity likewise might be a very great risk factor to getting fibroids. Fibroids have been seen to have a higher prevalent percentage in obese women than in other women.
Diets that includes a lot of vegetables and fruits will help in reducing the risk of getting fibroids. Normal diets that help in maintaining the level of vitamin D within the normal range are encouraged to be taken as it has been proven to lower the risks of getting fibroids.
Mostly fibroids are classified based on the sites and locations in which they are first discovered.
There are basically four types of fibroids and they include;
This type of fibroid grows within the layers of the muscular wall of the uterus.
This is when the uterine fibroid is found within the lining of the uterus most especially within the sub-mucosal layer.
Intra cavity fibroid
This is the kind of fibroid found inside the uterine cavity.
This kind of fibroid is found outside the uterine cavity
Preduncated uterine fibroid
This kind of uterine fibroid is seen hanging just at the tip or stalk of the uterus.
There are several complications that can be seen to be caused by fibroids though fibroids in itself are usually not harmful or dangerous.
Complications such as chronic anaemia can be expected due to the frequent heavy blood loss experienced from fibroid.
Other complications of fibroids include severe bladder problems and as well as severe bowel movement problems and obstruction. These usually occur when a very large fibroid causes the uterus to grow so large that it begins to press against pelvic organs like the bladder.
This however will then cause severe discomfort, constipation and/or an increased sense to frequently urinate. In some very rare cases, fibroids have been seen to become cancerous.
Another complication that can arise is an interference with one’s fertility. Once a fibroid begins to interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg, fibroids can begin to compromise with a woman’s ability to conceive. This can occur once the fertilized egg mistakenly implants itself in a fibroid instead of the normal implantation site.
Inability to conceive might also occur due to a situation whereby due to the abnormally large fibroid, there is a change in the shape of the uterus leading to difficulty in the implantation of the fertilized egg.
During pregnancy, fibroids can reduce or cut off the blood supply to the growing foetus by placing an intense pressure on the placenta thereby reducing placenta blood flow. This will lead to an increased tendency of miscarriage or even premature birth.
Fibroids that are located at the base of the uterus can hamper delivery if they obstruct and block the baby as the baby descends down the birth canal. This can therefore lead or increase the tendency of the occurrence of a caesarean section.
Though most times women who have fibroid have no symptoms, however there are some signs and symptoms that one should take note which can be an indication of the presence of uterine fibroid and they include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Menstrual periods that lasts longer than one week
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Severe constipation
- Severe back pains and even pains in the lower extremities
- Spotting in between periods
Treatments of uterine fibroid mostly depends on the location of the fibroid and also on how large the fibroid is. There are some easy to look out for facts when it comes to uterine fibroids and they are:
- Most fibroids are not cancerous. Though about 1% of them go ahead to become cancerous but this is rarely seen.
- The leading cause of hysterectomy is fibroid. Hysterectomy is simply the surgical removal of the uterus or womb. Hysterectomy is a permanent cure for fibroids however most women usually don’t want to go down that road
- Fibroids mostly don’t prevent pregnancies from occurring but then again, they always bring complications in pregnancy.
- You really don’t have to go through hysterectomy if you don’t want to. There are treatments available these days that can help shrink fibroids and as well reduce the rate at which they grow. Treatment options include hormonal treatments and therapy, removal of the fibroid without necessarily removing the uterus also known as myomectomy, as well as ultrasound therapy.
- Fibroid is very common. Statistics show that about 70%-80% of women develop fibroid by the time they are approaching 50 years of Age.
- The most common symptom of fibroid is heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Most times, fibroids don’t generally cause symptoms. Hence, most fibroids that don’t cause symptoms don’t require treatments. However, those that are causing symptoms require prompt treatment.
Once you are experiencing any of these symptoms, Endeavour to visit a doctor immediately for proper check-up and also to discuss appropriate forms of treatments.