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Uterine Fibroids: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Posted On: 19 Jun 2015

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Uterine fibroids are benign tumours that are made up of the muscle and connective tissue from the wall of the uterus(womb). Fibroids may grow as a single nodule or in clusters and may range in size from one millimetre to more than 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter. They may grow within the wall of the uterus or they may project into the interior cavity or toward the outer surface of the uterus. In rare cases, they may grow on stems projecting from the surface of the uterus.

What causes uterine fibroids?

The causes of fibroids are not known. Most fibroids occur in women of reproductiveage, and according to some estimates, they are diagnosed in black women two to three times more frequently than in white women. They are seldom seen in young women who have not begun to menstruate, and they usually stabilise or go away in women after menopause.

What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?

Most fibroids do not cause any symptoms and do not require treatment other than regular observation by a doctor. Fibroids may be discovered during routine gynecological examinations or during antenatal care.

Some women who have uterine fibroids may experience the following symptoms:

  • Excessive or painful bleeding during menstruation.
  • Bleeding between periods.
  • A feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen.
  • Frequent urination resulting from a fibroid that compresses the bladder.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse Lower back pain.

How are uterine fibroids treated?

To treat uterine fibroids, surgery can be used to remove fibroids only (myomectomy) or to remove the entire uterus (hysterectomy).

Surgery is a reasonable treatment option when:

  • Heavy uterine bleeding and/or anemia has continued after several months of therapy with birth control hormones and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
  • Fibroids grow after menopause.
  • The uterus is misshapen by fibroids and you have had repeat miscarriages or trouble getting pregnant.
  • Fibroid pain or pressure affects your quality of life.
  • You have urinary or bowel problems (from a fibroid pressing on your bladder, ureter, or bowel).
  • There is a possibility that cancer is present.
  • Fibroids are a possible cause of your trouble getting pregnant.

Surgery Choices

Surgical treatment options include:

  • Myomectomy, or fibroid removal. This may improve your chances of having a baby if the fibroid is inside the uterus and prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Removing fibroids in other locations of the uterus may not improve your chances of becoming pregnant.
  • Hysterectomy, or uterus removal. This is only recommended for women who have no future pregnancy plans. Hysterectomy is the only fibroid treatment that prevents regrowth of fibroids. It improves quality of life for many women. But it can also have negative long-term effects. For more information, see the topic Hysterectomy.

Myomectomy or hysterectomy can be done through one or more small incisions using laparoscopy, through the vagina, or through a larger abdominal cut (incision). The method depends on your condition, including where, how big, and what type of fibroid is growing in the uterus and whether you hope to become pregnant.

What to think about

If you are hoping for a future pregnancy, myomectomy is your one surgical option. Heavy, prolonged, and painful periods caused by uterine fibroids will stop naturally after you reach menopause. If you are nearing menopause and your symptoms are tolerable, consider controlling symptoms with home treatment and medicine until menopause. Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) may also be a reasonable option for you, although it has some risks.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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