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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:
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:
Surgical treatment options include:
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.