Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the muscle tissue of the uterus. Fibroids can range in number and size from a single growth to multiple growths, and from very small to large. As many as 70 per cent to 80 per cent of all women will have fibroids by age 50. The medical term for fibroids is leiomyoma or myoma.
Women must be vigilant as fibroids may cause very mild symptoms or none at all. In women who do feel symptoms, these uterine growths can cause pressure on the bladder or rectum, frequent urination, constipation or rectal pain and lower back or abdominal pain.
When fibroids become very large, they can distend the stomach, making a woman look pregnant.
Its symptoms also varies in women but the most common one is changes to a woman’s period, including mild to severe cramping and pain, heavier bleeding, sometimes with blood clots, longer or more frequent menstruation and spotting or bleeding between periods.
Many often confuse fibroids with endometriosis because both cause severe menstrual pain. However, endometriosis occurs when tissue from the inner lining of the uterus grows in other parts of the body.
This tissue breaks down and bleeds during your period, causing painful scar tissue. The pain of fibroids or endometriosis also can occur between periods.
Till date, the exact cause of fibroids is unknown. Their growth has been linked to the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Studies have found that women who start their periods at a younger age are more likely to develop fibroids. Although taking female hormones is linked to fibroids, the use of birth control pills is not.
There are different types of fibroids , they include subserosal, submucosal, pedunculated fibroids but intramural fibroids, the most common, grow in the wall of the uterus and can make it feel bigger. It’s possible to have more than one type of fibroid.
Who gets fibroids? While it’s unclear why women develop fibroids, some patterns have been observed. Experts say they usually occur between the ages of 30 and 40 and are more common in black women.
Gynaecologists also note that they grow more quickly and appear at a younger age in black women and having a family member with fibroids increases a woman’s risk. Also, being overweight or obese and having high blood pressure also may increase a woman’s risk.
Don’t take any menstrual changes for granted. Doctors note that some women with fibroids who experience unusually heavy bleeding during their periods may become anemic.
Many cases of anemia due to iron deficiency from periods are mild and can be treated with a change in diet and iron supplement pills. But note that untreated anemia can lead to fatigue and lethargy – and, in severe cases, heart problems, hence, a woman should know her body.
Unlike what many women believe, fibroids usually do not interfere with fertility and pregnancy. However, some women with fibroids experience more pregnancy complications and delivery risks. Fibroids may cause pelvic pain and heavy bleeding after delivery, which may require surgery.
In some instances, fibroids may block a woman’s fallopian tubes. Fibroids growing along the inner uterine wall may make it difficult for a fertilised egg to attach to the womb.
A smart woman should know when to get help. See your health care provider if you have heavy menstrual bleeding and painful periods and there is persistent pain or heaviness in lower abdomen or pelvis.
Don’t be scared, not all cases of fibroids require surgery. The doctor may just prescribe analgesics, birth control pills or a change in diet to ease the fibroids, if it does not pose any immediate danger to ones health.
A simple remedy you may try on your own is exercise. Regular exercise may prevent fibroids. In one study, women who exercised seven or more hours a week had significantly fewer fibroids than women who exercised less than two hours a week.
Obesity also is a risk factor for fibroids. So exercising regularly can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your fibroid risk.
Women with fibroids who are not getting enough iron through diet alone may develop anemia, where the body has fewer red blood cells than normal. Symptoms include fatigue, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Treatment may include eating more iron-rich foods, such as meats, poultry, fish, leafy greens, legumes, and iron-fortified breads and cereals. Your health care provider also may suggest iron supplements.
•Culled from WebMD.com
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