Fibroids- Cause, Complications and Treatment
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during your childbearing years. Also called fibromyomas, leiomyomas or myomas, uterine fibroids aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.
Fibroids are also known as fibromyomas, fibromas, myofibromas, leiomyomas, and myomas. Fibroids in the uterus are the most common noncancerous tumor of the female reproductive tract. They occur in one fourth of white women and one half of black women.
Uterine Artery Embolisation
Uterine artery embolisation (embolization) for fibroids is a relatively new procedure first carried out in France in a small number of cases in the early 90s (1). Since then there have been a number of publications on the technique (2-18). The procedure which is non surgical involves the occlusion of blood vessels supplying uterine fibroids.
What Causes Uterine Fibroids?
The causes of fibroids are not known. Most fibroids occur in women of reproductive age, and according to some estimates, they are diagnosed in black women 2-3 times more frequently than in white women. They seldom are seen in young women who have not begun to menstruate, and they usually stabilize or go away in women after menopause.
Do fibroids cause problems?
Fibroids may also cause pain or a feeling of pressure or heaviness in the lower pelvic area (the area between the hip bones), the back or the legs. Some women have pain during sexual intercourse. Others have a constant feeling that they need to urinate. There may also be a feeling of pressure in the bowel. Some women have constipation or bloating.
How common are fibroids.
At least 1 in 5 women develop one or more fibroids in their lifetime. They usually develop in women aged 30-50. It is common to have several fibroids of various sizes. Fibroids are more common in women from Afro-Caribbean origin.
Signs and Symptoms
Heavy Vaginal Bleeding — Some women experience excessively heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Not uncommonly, women describe soaking through sanitary protection in less than an hour, passing blood clots and being unable to leave the house during the heaviest day of flow. As a result of the blood loss, some women develop anemia, or a low blood count, which can cause fatigue or lightheadedness.
Exams and Tests
A pelvic examination may reveal an irregularly shaped, lumpy, or enlarged uterus. Frequently, this diagnosis is reliable. In some cases, diagnosis of fibroids is difficult, especially in obese women. Fibroid tumors have been mistaken for ovarian tumors, inflammation of the fallopian tubes, and pregnancy.
A transvaginal ultrasound or pelvic ultrasound may be performed to confirm the findings.
Fibroids can cause a variety of complications, including:
Anaemia – excessive menstrual blood loss can cause anaemia, a disorder characterised by the body’s inability to carry sufficient oxygen in the blood. Symptoms of anaemia include breathlessness, fatigue and paleness.
Urination problems – large fibroids can bulge the uterus against the bladder, causing a sensation of fullness or discomfort and the need to urinate often.
Treatment of fibroids
If you are not getting any symptoms, or if they are only mild, you do not need to treat or remove fibroids. Your doctor may suggest however, that you have a repeat ultrasound scan in the future if your symptoms worsen.
There is no drug treatment that cures fibroids. However, hormone-based treatments can help relieve the symptoms.
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