What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids (also known as leiomyomas) are benign growths on the uterine wall made up of muscle and connective tissue from the uterus’s wall. The majority of the time, these growths are not cancerous (benign). Your uterus is a pear-shaped organ located in your pelvis that is turned upside down. Usually, the size of your uterus is comparable to that of a lemon. It is also referred to as the womb, and it is the location where a baby grows and develops during pregnancy.
Fibroids can develop as a single nodule (single growth) or a cluster of nodules (multiple growths). Fibroid clusters can range in size from 1 millimeter to more than 20 centimeters (8 inches) in diameter and even more significant in some cases, depending on their location. They can grow to be the size of a watermelon to give you an idea of their size. These growths can occur within the uterine wall, within the central cavity of the organ, or even on the external surface of the organ. Fibroids can vary in size, number, and location within and on your uterus, as well as in their appearance.
In the case of uterine fibroids, you may experience a variety of symptoms, which may or may not be the same as those experienced by another woman suffering from fibroids. Because each person’s fibroids are different, your treatment strategy will be tailored to your specific situation.
Are fibroids common?
A fibroid is a type of growth that occurs in the very common pelvis. Fibroids are found in between 40 and 80 percent of the female population. However, because many women do not experience any symptoms due to their fibroids, they are often unaware that they have fibroids. This can occur when you have small fibroids, referred to as asymptomatic fibroids, because they do not cause you to experience any unusual symptoms.
Many women who have fibroids do not experience any symptoms at the time. In those who have fibroids, the location, size, and number of fibroids can all impact their symptoms.
The following are the most common signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids in women who are experiencing them:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Menstrual periods lasting more than a week
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying the bladder
- Backache or leg pains
When a fibroid outgrows its blood supply and begins to die, it can cause acute pain. This is extremely rare. Fibroids are generally classified according to where they are found. Intramural fibroids are tumors that develop within the uterine muscle wall. Submucosal fibroids protrude through the mucosa and into the uterine cavity. Subserosal fibroids are fibroids that protrude from the inside of the uterus to the outside.
Where do fibroids grow?
Fibroids can grow in a variety of locations, both inside and outside of your uterus. The location and size of your fibroids are critical factors in determining how to treat them. The location of your fibroids, the size of your fibroids, and the number of fibroids you have will determine which type of treatment will be most effective for you if any treatment is necessary.
Fibroids can be found in various locations in and on the uterus, each of which has a unique designation. These names describe not only the location of the fibroid but also how it is attached. Uterine fibroids can occur in a variety of locations, including the following:
Submucosal fibroids: are the type of fibroid that develops inside the uterine cavity (where the baby grows while the mother is pregnant). Consider that the growths extend down into the space in the middle of the uterus, as shown below.
Intramural fibroids: are fibroids that have become embedded within the uterine wall itself. Consider the sides of the uterus to be similar to the walls of a house. Fibroids are forming within the muscular wall of this body.
Subserosal fibroids: These fibroids are located on the outside of the uterus, and they are closely connected to the outside wall of the uterus at this time.
Pedunculated fibroids: The least common type of fibroids are also found outside the uterus, but they are less common. Pedunculated fibroids, on the other hand, are connected to the uterus by a fragile stem. Because they have a stalk and a much more comprehensive top, they are frequently referred to as “mushroom-like” plants.
There are few known risk factors for uterine fibroids, aside from being a woman of reproductive age, which is the most significant. Factors that can have an impact on the development of fibroid tumors include:
Although fibroids can affect women of reproductive age, black women are significantly more likely than women of other racial groups to develop them. In addition, black women are more likely than white women to develop fibroids at a younger age, and they are more likely than white women to have more or larger fibroids and more severe symptoms.
If your mother or sister suffered from fibroids, you are at a higher risk of developing them yourself.
Starting your period at a young age, being overweight, having a vitamin D deficiency, eating a diet high in red meat and low in green vegetables, fruit, and dairy, and consuming alcoholic beverages, including beer, all appear to increase your risk of developing fibroids in your uterus.
How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?
Most of the time, fibroids are discovered during a routine exam with a women’s health provider. Pelvic examinations can detect them, and they can be discovered during a gynecologic examination or prenatal care. Heavy bleeding and other symptoms that you describe may prompt your healthcare provider to consider fibroids as a possible cause of your bleeding. Multiple tests can be performed to confirm the presence of fibroids and determine their size and location. These examinations may include the following:
Using sound waves, ultrasonography creates a picture of your internal organs, which can be used to diagnose and treat medical conditions. Depending on the size of the uterus, the ultrasound procedure may be performed via the transvaginal or transabdominal routes, respectively.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Using magnets and radio waves, this test creates detailed images of your internal organs, then analyzed.
Computed tomography (CT): A CT scan is a type of imaging procedure that uses X-ray images to create a detailed image of your internal organs from multiple perspectives.
Hysteroscopy: During a hysteroscopy, your provider will use a device known as a scope (a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached to the end) to examine fibroids that have formed inside your uterus. Hysterectomy: Hysterectomy is a procedure in which your provider will remove fibroids from your uterus. The scope is passed through your vaginal and cervix and then into your uterus to perform the procedure.
Hysterosalpingography (HSG): This is an intricate X-ray procedure in which a contrast material is injected first, and then detailed X-rays of the uterus are taken. When a woman is also undergoing an infertility evaluation, this procedure is more commonly used.
Sonohysterography: In this imaging test, a small catheter is inserted transvaginally, and saline is injected into the uterine cavity through the catheter to produce images. This additional fluid aids in the creation of a clearer image of your uterus than would otherwise be visible during a standard ultrasound.
Your healthcare provider will make a small cut (incision) in your lower abdomen to examine your digestive system in this procedure. A thin and flexible tube with a camera attached to the end will be inserted into your body to examine your internal organs more closely.
Even though researchers are still investigating the causes of fibroid tumors, there is little scientific evidence to suggest how to prevent them. Although it may not be possible to prevent uterine fibroids, only a tiny percentage of these tumors necessitate medical intervention. Making healthy lifestyle choices, such as maintaining a healthy weight and eating fruits and vegetables, may, however, help to reduce your risk of developing fibroid tumors. Additionally, some research suggests that hormonal contraceptives may be associated with a lower risk of fibroid formation.
In many women’s lives, uterine fibroids are a common condition that they must deal with at some point. In some cases, fibroids are minor and do not manifest themselves with any symptoms. Fibroids can also cause symptoms that are difficult to manage at other times. If you are experiencing any discomfort or pain, you should consult Dr. Morris at the Brisbane Centre for Endometriosis. Fibroids can be treated, and your symptoms can often be alleviated as a result.