UNDERSTANDING UTERINE FIBROIDS
WHAT ARE UTERINE FIBROIDS
Fibroids are benign (non cancerous) muscular tumours that grow in the wall of the uterus. The cause of fibroids isn’t well understood. Risk factors include a family history of fibroids, obesity or early onset of puberty. Fibroids may grow as a single tumour or there can be a bunch of them in the uterus. They can sometimes be the size of an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. They can become unusually big in a few cases. About 20 to 80% of the women develop fibroids by the time they reach 50. Most of them do not experience any symptoms. Women who do have symptoms find it very hard to live with. They may experience pain and heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged periods and pelvic pain. They can also put pressure on the bladder causing frequent urination or on the rectum causing rectal pressure. Sometimes they can get really huge and can cause the abdomen to enlarge and make the woman look pregnant.
WHO CAN GET FIBROIDS
No one knows for sure what causes Fibroids. But researchers have identified a few factors that can increase a woman’s risk of developing Uterine fibroids.
- Age – Fibroids become more common as a woman ages, especially during the 30’s and 40’s through menopause. They usually shrink after menopause.
- Obesity – Women who are overweight are at a greater risk for fibroids. The risk is greater by 2 to 3 times than average.
- Food habits – Eating a lot of red meat is shown to increase your risk of fibroids. Green leafy vegetables on the other hand seem to protect women from developing fibroids.
- Family History – Family history increases your risk of encountering fibroids. If your mother has fibroids, it increases your risk by 2 or 3 times than average.
SYMPTOMS OF FIBROIDS
Most women who have fibroids do not have any symptoms. But some may have:
- Lower back pain
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- Heavy and prolonged menstrual cycle
- Severe cramps
- Pain during sex
- Frequent urination
- Reproductive problems including infertility though it is rare
- Complications during pregnancy and labour
- Enlargement of lower abdomen
Women who have Fibroids are more likely to have complications during pregnancy and delivery. The most common problems could be
- Caesarean Delivery
- Preterm birth or Breech birth
- Placental abruption ( detachment of placenta from the uterus causing lack of oxygen to the baby)
- Labour fails to progress
HOW ARE FIBROIDS TREATED
Most women who have fibroids do not have any symptoms. For some women, there are treatments that can help. Drugs such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help relieve pain. If you suffer from heavy bleeding, iron supplements could keep you from getting anaemic or correct it if you are already have anaemia.
Several drugs commonly used for birth control can be used to control symptoms of fibroids. They do not make fibroids grow and can control heavy bleeding.
Other drugs like “Gonadotropin Releasing Hormones Agonists” (GnRHa) normally given through injections or basal sprays can help shrink fibroids.
If you have fibroids with moderate to severe symptoms, surgery might be the best way to remove them. So talk to your doctor for the best treatment option for you.