Uterine fibroids

We have often heard of fibroids and many women heavily experience the pain due to fibroids. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years.

Fibroids range in size from seedlings, undetectable by the human eye, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. You can have a single fibroid or multiple ones. In extreme cases, multiple fibroids can expand the uterus so much that it reaches the rib cage. Most women don’t know they have uterine fibroids because they often cause no symptoms. Your doctor may discover fibroids incidentally during a pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound.

Symptoms

Many women who have fibroids don’t have any symptoms. In those that do, symptoms can be influenced by the location, size and number of fibroids. In women who have symptoms, the most common symptoms of uterine fibroids include heavy menstrual bleeding, menstrual periods lasting more than a week, pelvic pressure or pain, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, constipation, backache or leg pains.

When to see a doctor

It is recommended to see your doctor if you have pelvic pain that doesn’t go away, overly heavy, prolonged or painful periods, spotting or bleeding between periods, difficulty emptying your bladder

Causes

While there are many causes the most important ones are Genetic changes. Many fibroids contain changes in genes that differ from those in normal uterine muscle cells. Hormonal imbalance e.g. Estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that stimulate development of the uterine lining during each menstrual cycle in preparation for pregnancy, appear to promote the growth of fibroids. Also, other growth factors and substances that help the body maintain tissues, such as insulin-like growth factor, may also sometimes affect fibroid growth.

Risk factors
Factors that can have an impact on fibroid development include heredity, race and environment etc. If your mother or sister had fibroids, you’re at increased risk of developing them. Similarly, black women are more likely to have fibroids than women of other racial groups. In addition, black women have fibroids at younger ages, and they’re also likely to have more or larger fibroids. Other factors like onset of menstruation at an early age, use of birth control, obesity, a vitamin-D deficiency, having a diet higher in red meat and lower in green vegetables, fruit and dairy and drinking alcohol, including beer, appear to increase your risk of developing fibroids.

Complications

Although uterine fibroids usually aren’t dangerous, they can cause discomfort and may lead to complications such as anaemia from heavy blood loss. Fibroids, especially submucosal fibroids could cause infertility or pregnancy loss. They may also raise the risk of certain pregnancy-related complications like placental abruption, fatal growth restriction and preterm delivery etc.

Prevention

By making healthy lifestyle choices, such as maintaining a normal weight and eating fruits and vegetables, you may be able to decrease your fibroid risk.