Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths made from the uterine muscle. They are also known as leiomyomas or myomas. They affect the uterus. Up to 80% of people with uteruses will be diagnosed with myomas.
Symptoms of fibroids
Fibroid tumours can grow to painful and large levels. In this case, they can cause abdominal pain and heavy periods. But, they usually don’t have symptoms. Scientists are yet to find what causes myomas.
If you experience the following symptoms, see a doctor to confirm if it’s fibroids:
- Your periods lasting longer than a week
- Pain in your abdomen
- Excessive peeing or difficulty peeing
- Lower back pain
- Pain in your legs
- Menstrual clots
- Pain during sex
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Very heavy menstrual bleeding
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They are classified based on where they occur in the uterus.
1. Intramural fibroids
These are the most common type. They grow in the uterine wall and can stretch your uterus.
2. Subserosal fibroids
These grow outside the uterus in an area known as the serosa. They can distort the shape of your uterus and make it seem unevenly large on one side.
3. Pedunculated fibroids
This is when subserosal fibroids form a stem under the tumour.
4. Submucosal fibroids
These are rare tumours that develop in the middle layer of the uterus.
5. Cervical fibroids
These are also rare tumours that grow in the cervix, between the uterus and vagina.
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What increases the likelihood of fibroids?
Doctors don’t yet know what the exact cause is. However, some factors can increase the risk.
The hormones produced during the menstrual cycle, oestrogen, and progesterone, make the uterine lining shed and regrow. This can trigger their development. 10 Natural Ways To Balance Your Hormones
If you have a family member with fibroids, you are more likely to get them.
3. Age and Weight
Fibroids are more frequent in women of higher body weight.
Women over thirty are also more likely to develop the tumours.
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Other factors that may influence their growth are insulin-like growth factors and extracellular matrix. ECM is the material that sticks cells together. Increased ECM can change the composition of cells and make fibroids more fibrous.
Black women are also more likely to develop them than any other race. In an early period, a diet low in leafy green vegetables but high in red meat and alcohol consumption also increases their risk.
Pregnancy increases the levels of oestrogen and progesterone. Pregnancy can increase the size and growth rate of fibroids. However, pregnancy doesn’t increase the risk compared to not being pregnant. Read Also: Parenting: Nine Tips For A Healthy Pregnancy
Fibroids are diagnosed using a pelvic exam, an ultrasound, or a pelvic MRI. Doctors may also opt for a transvaginal ultrasound, a wand inserted into the vagina for clearer images.
Treatment is determined based on age, the size of the tumours, and the patient’s general health.
1. Home remedies
Acupuncture, yoga, massages, and applying heat can help manage fibroids. Reducing red meat in your diet and opting for nutrient-dense and low-calorie foods. You should also select foods rich in flavonoids.
Reducing stress levels and losing weight also reduces the risk.
You may get a prescription for hormone-control medication. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists lower oestrogen and progesterone levels. This stops your periods and shrinks the tumours.
Birth control pills and a progestin intrauterine device can help manage the pain from fibroids.
An abdominal myomectomy can remove large or multiple growths. The surgeon creates an incision at the abdomen to remove the growths. However, they can still grow back after surgery. In extreme cases, you may need to opt for a hysterectomy.
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