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Uterine Fibroids: Facts and Fixes

Diane Luke
Senior Editor, TipsHire

You’ve certainly heard about uterine fibroids and maybe you already know that there is a certain period in a woman’s life when the risks to develop uterine fibroids are higher. Even though, here are some uterine fibroids facts and fixes that will clearly explain you everything you need to know about this medical condition, from what uterine fibroids are, to how to treat them.

Do you have any reason to worry?

Before everything else, let’s take a look at some statistics regarding uterine fibroids condition.

The statistics show that 3 out of 4 women develop fibroids sometime during their lives, but most of them are unaware of the presence of fibroids, which are usually asymptomatic.

This condition affects the women aged between 35 and 55 years.

Only 20% to 40% of the women aged under 35 years are prone to develop a uterine fibroid, while, with age, the incidence of the condition increases to 70-80%.

So, yes there are some good reasons why you should worry if you are over 35 years old. But, no reason to worry about your life, since the uterine fibroids are benign tumors, therefore uterine fibroids don’t mean cancer.

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are the most common benign gynecological tumors, resulting from the abnormal multiplication of the muscles and connective tissue cells that normally form the walls of the uterus.

Reproductive periods and significant increases in the hormones levels favor the emergence and development of uterine fibroids in women. Thus, on the uterus’s walls may occur several fibroid nodules of varying sizes, from a few millimeters in size to the impressive size that equals to a full term pregnancy.

Is uterine fibroids cancer?

The first concern a woman has upon the emergence of a fibroid node is linked to its nature. In other words, the first thing you think about is that you may have cancer.

The good news is that uterine fibroids do not mean cancer.

Even though, you shouldn’t ignore this issue. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors which need investigations and a specific treatment for downsizing them or even removing them. If not treated, the uterine fibroids continue to grow and even though they are benign, their size may lead to other health problems.

Can be prevented?

Until now, experts have been unable to identify a clear causal occurrence of uterine fibroids and therefore they couldn’t make up a system on preventing this condition.

It is considered that the fibroids can’t be prevented.

What causes the occurrence of uterine fibroids?

The main factors that were directly associated with the development of uterine fibroids are:

  • hormonal imbalances – the uterine fibroids contain more estrogen and progesterone receptors than normal, these two hormones being responsible for stimulating the development of the uterine lining during menstruation or pregnancy.
  • genetic heritage – the women who have a first-degree relative diagnosed with uterine fibroids, have, in turn, the risk of developing these tumors.
  • race – statistically, it was observed a higher incidence of uterine fibroids developments in black women than in the other racial groups.
  • pregnancy and birth – for those women who had at least one pregnancy, the risk of uterine fibroids is much lower.
  • Obesity – the body weight can have a significant influence on the development of uterine fibroids, thus the obese women have an increased risk of developing fibroids.
  • first menstruation – some specialists think that having the first menstruation at a young age (around 10 years) increases the risks of developing uterine fibroids in adulthood.
  • hypertension – considered another risk factor by some doctors
  • an unhealthy lifestyle – frequent use of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and unhealthy food, especially the lack of fruits and vegetables in the daily diet and excessive consumption of meat, are factors that can stimulate the growth of the uterine fibroids.

Symptoms of the uterine fibroids

Although most often are asymptomatic, when symptoms do occur they are directly influenced by the place in which the fibroids are developing.

The most common symptoms that indicate the presence of the fibroids in the uterine cavity are:

  • dysmenorrhea (pain during menstruation) and menorrhagia (heavy menstruation)
  • pressure or pain in the lower abdomen
  • anemia
  • infertility, premature births, spontaneous abortions
  • urinary symptoms
  • digestive problems
  • the presence of varicose veins in the lower limbs

Types of uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids can develop in different areas of the uterus:

  • in the uterine cavity within the uterine wall
  • outside of the uterus
  • on the ligaments that support the uterus
  • on the cervix

Depending on the place where the fibroid is developed, a woman can be diagnosed with one of the following types of uterine fibroids:

  • submucosal fibroids
  • intramural fibroids
  • subserosal fibroids
  • intraligamentary or cervical fibroids

Submucosal fibroids, developed in the interior cavity of the uterus, present the basic symptoms of prolonged bleeding during menstruation, infertility, and difficulty in maintaining a pregnancy.

Intramural fibroids, which are located in the thickness of the myometrium, represent the most common type of uterine fibroids. Intramural fibroids are related to symptoms such as pelvic pressure and pain, heavy bleeding during menstruation, back pain, urinary and digestive disorders, infertility, and complications during pregnancy.

Subserosal fibroids, located outside the womb, in particular, generates problems in the bladder or rectum, depending on the area in which it grows. It may present the risk of twisting, causing intense abdominal pain.

Intraligamentary or cervical fibroids are rarely occurring and they develop in the ligaments that support the uterus, respectively, in the cervix.

Diagnosis of the uterine fibroids,

After a gynecological examination, your gynecologist can tell you if there is any suspicion of a fibroid and will guide you in making further investigations such as transvaginal ultrasound or hysterosonography investigations which may confirm or refute the presence of the uterine fibroids.

Fixes of the uterine fibroids.

Depending on the complexity of the fibroids, their location, medical history of the patient, and the number of fibroids, a doctor may suggest different types of treatment. Most common uterine fibroids fixes are:

  • medications – can improve the health and slow down and even stop the growth of the fibroids. Drug treatment may be preceding the surgery.
  • surgery – classical or laparoscopic, or hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus) for women of over 45 years of age, or for those who have already had a birth and do not want to have another child.
  • non-invasive method – using a high frequency and high energy ultrasound, guided through magnetic resonance.

The advantages of opting for the non-invasive ultrasound method are:

  • 100% non-invasive procedure (without incisions on the skin)
  • protects the uterus
  • not affecting fertility
  • does not require anesthesia
  • without loss of blood
  • the non-ionizing procedure, which is harmless for patients, doctors, and the environment
  • rapid recovery of the patients (1-2 days)
  • not requiring hospitalization (patient can go home after administration procedure)

Prevention of recurrence after treatment

Uterine fibroid recurrence, even after treatment, it is not unusual. The only method to prevent the occurrence of the uterine fibroids is the surgical intervention which involves the complete removal of the entire uterus.

These uterine fibroids facts and fixes were, hopefully, helpful for you to see if you’re at risk, or to decide which treatment to opt for. Keep in mind that uterine fibroids are not cancerous, but not treating this condition offers them time to develop, grow, or even multiply, and their sizes and their number are the ones that could lead to other problems and disorders.

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