Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous lumps that form in the uterus of females. They mostly occur during the childbearing age, contributing to infertility or delayed pregnancy. Many women with uterine fibroids have reported their genes and obesity to be the cause of the condition.
The Uterus or the womb
Alternate Name of Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are clinically called leiomyomas or myomas.
Uterine Fibroids Causes
Genes/Family history: Any disease of the uterus or the breast can be genetic. So, if your mother or sister or second-degree relative had the condition, it is likely that you may also get it.
Genetic changes: The food we eat and the pollutants around us may bring about changes in the genes and their functioning. These changes may give way to the development of fibroids.
Hormones: A woman goes through a roller coaster of hormones, especially during her childbearing ages. Any alteration or disturbance in the hormonal signalling pathway may contribute to the development of fibroids.
Uterine Fibroids Symptoms
Signs and symptoms that women with uterine fibroids experience differ with age and body type. No two women with the condition have the same set of symptoms, and no two symptoms occur together for different women. However, some of the common symptoms are:
Heavy menstrual bleeding
Menstruation that lasts more than 7 days
Spotting or bleeding between periods
Difficulty emptying the bladder
Uterine Fibroids Diagnosis
Ultrasound: If you experience any symptoms of uterine fibroids, you may be asked to undergo an ultrasound for confirmation. In an ultrasound scan, sound waves are used to detect the presence of lumps in the uterus.
Hysteroscopy: A small lighted telescope is inserted into the uterus through the cervix and saline is released to expand the uterine cavity and obtain clear images of the uterus.
MRI: It is useful for mapping of fibroid for planning of surgery.
Uterine Fibroids Treatment
GnRH agonists: The first line of treatment for uterine fibroids is medication, which includes GnRH agonists (drugs that mimic Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone). These drugs stop menstrual bleeding, thereby enabling the fibroids to shrink.
Oral Contraceptives: There are other oral contraceptives that help in preventing menstruation and shrinking the fibroids.
Progesterone releasing Intra uterine devices: It provides symptomatic relief in reducing heavy menses. It doesn't shrink the fibroid or make it disappear.
Tranexamic acid: It is a non hormonal medication to ease heavy periods. It's taken only on heavy bleeding days.
Medication for uterine fibroids can cause undesirable side effects like hot flashes, depression, mood swings, etc. So, it is often advised to opt for surgery and get the lumps removed.
Non Invasive Procedure
MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery (FUS): This is a non-invasive procedure that restores maximum healthy uterus tissues.
Minimally Invasive Procedures
Uterine artery embolisation: Blood supply to the fibroids is blocked by inserting small particles in this minimally-invasive procedure.
Radiofrequency ablation: Radiofrequency waves are used to ablate fibroids and stop blood flow to the fibroids.
Open / Laparoscopic/ Hysteroscopic/Robotic Myomectomy: To remove fibroids leaving the uterus in place for fertility preservation. Hysteroscopic myomectomy is ideal for the submucosal fibroid ( in the cavity of the uterus).
Most of the time Laparoscopic surgery is possible even for large or multiple fibroids. Maximum number of fibroids removed during myomectomy in BLK MAX is 106.
Hysterectomy: Removing the uterus is only a solution if you do not wish to get pregnant anymore. However, this is the only proven permanent solution for uterine fibroids. Hysterectomy can be done via Lap/ Robotic/ Open techniques.
Uterine Fibroids Preventions
There are no proven methods to prevent the occurrence of uterine fibroids, but a healthy diet with less sugar, gluten, and processed items, and an active lifestyle can reduce the chances.
Uterine fibroids may keep reoccurring, depending on your age and the severity of your condition. There are certain ways through which you can prevent fibroids from reoccurring:
Keeping your blood sugar level and blood pressure in check
Eating non-inflammatory food free from sugar, gluten, etc.
Maintaining an active lifestyle
Risk Factors of Uterine Fibroids
There are certain factors or conditions that may or may not increase your chance of contracting uterine fibroids.
Age - older women are at a higher risk of contracting the disease than younger women.
Family history of uterine fibroids - if your first-degree or second-degree relatives had this condition, there is a possibility that you may also get it.
Obesity - women who are obese are more likely to get uterine fibroids than women with a healthy BMI.
Blood pressure - women with hypertension are at a risk of contracting uterine fibroids.
No history of pregnancy
Deficiency of Vitamin D
One of the most common complications of uterine fibroids is anaemia. There is a heavy blood loss associated with uterine fibroids, and it results in anaemia. When left untreated, uterine fibroids may give way to uterine polyps, which are slightly difficult to treat and remove. So, a timely diagnosis and taking proper measures to treat the condition is paramount.
Uterine fibroids are more commonly seen in women of African origin than in white women. As seen earlier, women in their reproductive age and older women are at a higher risk of contracting uterine fibroids.
Uterine fibroids are generally one of the reasons for infertility or delayed pregnancy. Anaemia is the immediate effect observed in women with uterine fibroids. They do not manifest any symptoms for several years after developing. However, in some women, symptoms like heavy menstrual bleeding and prolonged menstruation may progress sooner, causing anaemia.
Uterine fibroids may take many years to present symptoms and progress. However, once they grow, there are high chances of them recurring.
Uterine fibroids are benign lumps that can grow on the uterus, extending into the underlying muscular layer (submuscular leiomyoma) or into the uterine cavity (subserosal). Natural hormonal response mechanisms get enhanced, leading to the rapid growth of the uterine lining leading to endometrial thickening. This results in pelvic pain and heavy menstrual bleeding.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are fibroids cancer?
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in the uterus.
2. Do fibroids make your stomach big?
Yes, large fibroids can cause the abdomen to appear swollen or enlarged, leading to a larger stomach.
3. Do fibroids make you tired?
Yes, fibroids can sometimes cause fatigue and tiredness, especially if they are large or cause heavy menstrual bleeding. The loss of blood and associated symptoms can contribute to feelings of tiredness.
4. Will fibroids go away on their own?
Fibroids typically do not go away on their own, but their growth can vary. Some fibroids may shrink after menopause when hormone levels decrease, but it's best to consult a doctor for proper evaluation and management.
5. Can I conceive if I have uterine fibroids?
It is possible to get pregnant if you have uterine fibroids, but their size and location can impact fertility and pregnancy.