Fibroids are uterine overgrowths that develop in and around the uterus in a female. They are nothing but the normal tissue that starts growing abnormally to form a benign or a non-cancerous tumor. Fibroids have become an extremely common condition that can be experienced by females after puberty and the peak incidence of occurrence is around 30 years of age.
More often than not, fibroids are asymptomatic and can go unnoticed for a long time before they get diagnosed. However, sometimes they cause numerous symptoms. The commonly seen symptoms of fibroids are – heavy menstrual bleeding, painful periods (the pain begins few days prior to the periods and becomes worse during periods), a heavy dragging sensation in the lower abdomen or pelvis, pain during sexual intercourse and some complain of excessive weakness due to heavy bleeding.
Listed below are some basic facts about uterine fibroids.
* Fibroids are non cancerous
The term benign tumor often confuses people and they end up thinking that anything having the word ‘tumor’ as a suffix is cancerous. A tumor is nothing but an overgrowth and fibroids belong to the Non-Cancerous category and can be managed easily.
* Fibroids are usually asymptomatic
A lot of women who have fibroids are symptom-free. And such cases where the fibroids cause no symptoms don’t require any kind of treatment. Clinical observation and periodical investigations and check ups are advised for such cases.
* Heavy menstrual flow is almost always the first symptom of Fibroids
More often than not, excessive bleeding during periods is the first symptom of underlying uterine fibroids. Some women develop anemia and weakness because of this and seek a doctor’s opinion for it. Many women pass a lot of clots during their periods. Occasionally, females also complain of bleeding in between their periods too.
* Hysterectomy is not the only treatment option
A number of medical therapies can successfully shrink and/or slow the growth of fibroids, such as Homeopathy, Ayurveda, hormone treatments and ultrasound therapy.
A conservatory surgical procedure known as ‘Myomectomy’ – which removes the fibroid while leaving the uterus intact is the most popular treatment option.
* Hysterectomy is required only in a few cases
Hysterectomy or the surgical removal of the uterus is suggested only in cases where the fibroids are extremely big, very painful or when there are plenty of small, tiny fibroids and are not responding to other methods of treatment. Having said that, uterine fibroids still remain the number one cause of hysterectomies performed worldwide.
* Pregnancy with fibroids is not impossible
Women with fibroids can definitely conceive. In fact, some research suggests that certain types of uterine fibroids can change the size and shape of the uterus.
Some women with fibroids only need some amount of medical supervision throughout their pregnancy and can deliver healthy babies without any treatment. However, your gynecologist is the best person to judge whether your fibroids need to be excised or not. Size and position of the fibroids is the main deciding factor. 1-2% of the infertility cases have fibroids as the underlying cause. Before you start planning a baby you must consult an obstetrician. In some cases a myomectomy is an absolute must for pregnancy.
* Their cause still remains unknown
Fibroids were first believed to occur due to hormones as they appear generally around the time of puberty and decrease by the time of menopause. However, there is no clear-cut indication to support this theory. Certain cases have shown a genetic predisposition while some cases have shown association with stress, diet and environmental factors. The exact cause still remains uncovered.
While many women would never know what fibroids are, more than half of the women will develop fibroids before they are 50. The incidence of fibroids is extremely high. Research suggests that up to 70% of all women are likely to get them at some point in their lifetime. However, like mentioned above, they can be managed effectively with several treatment options.