Fibroids or uterine fibroids are tumors that develop in the uterus of women, often during their reproductive years. Unlike cancerous tumors, these tumors remain in their primary location of growth and have no impact on a woman’s chances of going on to develop cancer of the uterus later in life.
How Common Are They?
Fibroids are probably the most common condition that affects reproductive women in their lifetime. As much as 75 percent of all reproductive women develop these uterine growths at some point during their reproductive periods. However, only a small percentage of affected women are officially diagnosed with the condition. This is because majority of them experience no conspicuous signs and therefore never get it checked. In most cases, fibroids are accidentally spotted by medical officials during routine examinations for other conditions.
Unless you are experiencing clear cut signs of discomfort as a result of fibroids, there is no need to seek treatment for the condition. Under rare circumstances, fibroid patients may be rushed to ER rooms when the condition is causing them to bleed excessively during their periods or causing unbearable levels of pain. In such cases, surgery may be conducted to get rid of the tumors.
Signs and Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
A small percentage of women experience one symptom or another as a result of non-cancerous cell growth in their uteruses. Keep in mind that the location where you develop fibroid cells determines whether you experience symptoms or not. Here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Excessive bleeding during their periods
- Longer than usual duration of periods each month- usually in excess of seven days
- Sharp pain in the pelvis
- Excessive urination
- Urinating delays
- Severe pain in the legs and around the back
Seeking Medical Care
If you suspect that you have developed uterine fibroids but not experiencing any discomforting signs, seeking medical attention may not be necessary. However, medical care should be a priority if you notice any of the following:
- Consistent sharp pain in the pelvis
- Excessive bleeding and or accompanied by pain
- Mid-cycle spotting
- Severe pain during sex
- Urinating problems
- Bowel movement problems
Non-cancerous growth cells are developed in the uterus out of the tissues located in that area of the body. Fibroid development usually begins from a single cell which expands after repeated cell divisions to form solid tumors over time. Fibroids do not have any distinct patterns of growth. While some of them continue to grow at a slow pace over time, others may shrink back and forth. Sometimes, fibroids may have developed in some women but the size of the tumors may be negligible and therefore undetectable even with the most advanced diagnostic medical equipment. Fibroids may also grow in size to the point where they enlarge the size of the uterus. Many women experience the growth of fibroids in a single location but it is not uncommon for some patients to suffer multiple simultaneous growths at different areas of the uterus.
While there are no conclusive causes for the development of uterine fibroids, extensive studies in the area have leaned towards the following factors:
- Female fertility hormones such as progesterone and estrogen
- Genetic changes
- Body fluids
- Race: fibroids are more prevalent in reproductive women of Black descent
- Lack of pregnancy and delivery- women who have given birth in the past seem to have the least fibroid development rates, according to research.
Again, while research in this area is yet to be conclusive, various studies have indentified the following risk factors:
- Studies indicate fibroids are more prevalent among women who do not take birth control pills.
- While some studies have identified obesity as a risk factor, others have ruled it out.
Even though no serious dangers have been associated with uterine fibroids, some women experience severe levels of pain and discomfort in the abdominal region and other areas. Under such situations, prompt medical attention becomes necessary.
Fibroids by themselves do not disrupt a woman’s chances of conception. In some cases, their primary location may cause blockage of the Fallopian tubes or even interfere with the ability of sperm to swim from the vagina into the oviducts. Some types of fibroids may interfere with implantation in the uterus after fertilization of a matured egg with by a healthy sperm.
Fibroids may also be a source of pain and discomfort during pregnancy. However, unless you have suffered miscarriages a couple of times, surgery may not be prescribed for the tumors to be removed. Surgery may be the best form of treatment if your fibroid has expanded to the point where it is disrupting the shape of your uterus.
There are various forms of treatment for fibroids which are prescribed depending on the size and location of the tumors as well as the severity of symptoms being experienced. Some of the most popular forms of treatment are:
- Intrauterine device (IUD)
- Medications such as Androgens, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) drugs, etc.