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Fibroids are benign overgrowths of smooth muscle tissue inside or outside the uterus, which contribute to 20-30% of gynaecological tumours in women of reproductive age. They can range in size, appearing alone or in multiples, and in rare cases, become malignant, warranting immediate treatment. Here, the experts at Rosewalk Hospital give you an inside look at the condition, so that you can arm yourself with the information you need to take action early.
Causes of fibroids The exact cause of fibroids is not known, but excessive production of estrogen in the body can contribute to their growth. Here are some factors that are presumed to spur their formation.
Family history If other women in your family have had them before you, you’re likely genetically predisposed to developing fibroids as well.
Hormonal fluctuations A spurt in estrogen or progesterone production can influence the formation of fibroids.
Pregnancy Much like with menstruation, estrogen and progesterone play a pivotal role in pregnancy, leading to a heady release of hormones. This often acts as a trigger for fibroids.
Symptoms of fibroids It’s important to note that 50-60% of fibroids present no symptoms, and symptoms vary based on size, location and scale. Fibroids can cause pregnancy complications such as premature birth, intrauterine growth restriction, miscarriage, obstruction of the birth canal, inconsistent contractions and excessive postpartum bleeding.
The most common symptoms of uterine fibroids are mentioned below: • Heavy or painful menstruation • Persistent abdominal or lower back pain • Painful intercourse • Frequent urination • Rectal discomfort
Diagnosing fibroids If you identify with any of these symptoms, it’s best to have yourself examined by a gynaecologist. Fibroids can be confirmed through a pelvic ultrasound, or via other scans, your specialist may deem necessary. Here’s a look at the types of fibroids:
Subserosal fibroids These develop outside the uterus, putting pressure on the abdomen. Subserosal fibroids can give rise to excessive bleeding, abdominal pain (including cramping and bloating) and infertility.
Intramural fibroids These remain confined to the uterine wall and may cause variable symptoms, including stretching of the uterus.
Pedunculated fibroids When subserosal fibroids develop a tumour-filled base or stem, they are known as pedunculated fibroids.
Submucosal fibroids While less common than other types, these fibroids take root in the middle-muscular layer of the uterus.
Treating fibroids Treatment for uterine fibroids is usually tailored in line with a woman’s age and fertility profile. Both medication and surgery are options for treatment. Surgical options include myomectomy (where fibroids are removed leaving the uterus intact) and hysterectomy (where the uterus itself is removed). Both surgeries can be performed via minimally invasive methods such as laparoscopy or hysteroscopy, where small incisions are made in the abdomen to allow for the passage of surgical instruments.
When to seek help from a specialist Here are some symptoms to look out for before scheduling a visit with your doctor: • Difficulty urinating • Chronic pelvic pain • Urinary incontinence • Excessive bleeding during menstruation • Unexplained vaginal bleeding • Lump or swelling in the abdomen
Fibroids affect up to 80% of women by the time they are 50. So, if you are diagnosed, seek solace in knowing that you’re not alone. If you’re not in any kind of pain, your doctor might suggest a wait-and-watch approach. If you are experiencing discomfort, take heart in a suitable treatment plan as advised by your doctor.
At Rosewalk Hospital, we aren’t merely known for our boutique birthing experiences. Our comprehensive women care services are geared equally towards women of all ages. Schedule a consultation today to experience customized treatments seeded in excellent safety, quick recovery and unparalleled outcomes.
Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology