What are Fibroids?
Fibroids or Myomas are tumors that grow in the uterus. These growths are usually benign (noncancerous). They are the most common tumors of the female reproductive system. Between 20 and 50% of women can have Fibroids at some stage of their life.
Uterine Fibroids can grow:
• Just below the outer surface of the uterus (subserosal)
• Within the uterus muscle (myometrial)
• Just under the uterus inner lining (submucosal)
• On a long stalk on the outside or inside the cavity of the uterus (pedunculated)
These tumors often cause abnormal uterine bleeding and are associated with infertility by modifying the vascularity of the endometrium and the implantation of the fertilized egg, they can cause dysfunctional labor jobs and trigger preterm delivery.
Having uterine Fibroids is the most common cause of Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), so it is a serious problem that can affect your life in more than one way.
What causes Fibroids?
Physicians and researchers do not know for sure why uterine Fibroids occur, or why some women suffer them and others do not.
Little is known about the origin of Fibroids, but evidence suggests that its growth is linked to the amount of estrogen (female hormone) in women’s organism, and genetic or hereditary factors.
When a woman is pregnant or taking certain birth control pills, estrogen levels rise, accelerating the Fibroid growth, which normally would be slow.
Whatever their origin is, uterine Fibroids are benign tumors that can be treated and generally do not represent a life threatening condition.
Who is at risk of developing Fibroids?
It is estimated that 20% of women may have uterine Fibroids during their fertile years and up to 50% have Fibroids around the age of 50 years.
Fibroids are more common in women from 30 to 40 years old, but they can appear at any age.
While science has not determined why Fibroids occur, there seems to be a relationship with ethnicity. Black women are at greater risk of presenting them, however, women of all races could develop them.
What are the symptoms of Fibroids?
Some women may have a uterine Fibroid and never know, since it does not grow enough or does not cause any problems. On the other hand, some may develop a single small Fibroid, but have multiple symptoms that lead them to consult a physician.
The most common symptoms of uterine Fibroids are:
• Bleeding between menstrual periods.
• Heavy menstrual bleeding, sometimes with clots of blood.
• Menstrual periods that can last longer than usual.
• Cramps or pelvic pain during the menstrual period.
• A pressure or fullness sensation in the lower abdomen.
• The need to urinate more frequently.
• Pain during sexual intercourse.
Excessive bleeding can lead to anemia, a low number of red blood cells, and symptoms can increase during exercise. Women who have them may also suffer mood changes, weakness or fatigue, headaches and concentrating difficulties, especially during their period.
How are Fibroids diagnosed?
The gynecologist may detect the presence of uterine Fibroids in women without any symptoms during a follow up visit. However, they are generally detected when the woman presents any of their symptoms, especially heavy bleeding and pain.
During the exploration, the physician can find a grown uterus or with form changes due to the presence of these tumors. In some cases, when Fibroids are very large, it is possible to directly feel bumps in the lower abdomen. In those cases, the physician will perform an abdominal ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis, letting him know the size, location and number of Fibroids.
Other tests that may be needed:
• Magnetic Resonance Image
• Endometrial biopsy