What are Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are growths in the uterus that are usually non-cancerous and can range from being as small as a seedling to the size of a coconut. For the most part, there are no symptoms or discomfort in the early stages, so many women are unaware of them. They may be detected by a doctor during a routine pelvic exam or a prenatal ultrasound. Doctors are as yet unable to determine the cause of fibroids, but research and clinical experience list some factors as genetic alterations, hormones and chemicals like the insulin growth factor which helps the body maintain tissues.
Common symptoms of uterine fibroids which some women tend to ignore are:
- Prolonged periods of menstrual bleeding – seven days or more
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying the bladder
- Back or leg pains
- Intermittent pelvic pain
- Spotting or bleeding between periods
Other symptoms which can be very severe are
- chronic pelvic pain
- excessively heavy menstrual bleeding
- pain while having intercourse
Many women are unaware that they have uterine fibroids and ignore or delay seeking medical attention for the less severe symptoms. You should always seek prompt medical care, for instance, if you feel sudden, sharp pelvic pains on more than one occasion or if your menstrual bleeding is not only heavy but excessively heavy enough to cause great discomfort.
According to the Mayo Clinic, roughly 3 out of 4 women will have uterine fibroids at sometime during their lives. Most of the time uterine fibroids cause no symptoms. However, if you observe that you are experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms, it is time to talk with your doctor about them. The doctor will perform a pelvic exam for an initial diagnosis of whether the symptoms are due to pregnancy, an ovarian tumor or simply inflammation of the fallopian tubes.
The doctor can use medical procedures to shrink or remove the fibroids. He may shrink the fibroid and recommend periodic pelvic exams and/or ultrasounds to monitor the fibroid’s growth. He may also recommend surgery for removal of the fibroids, a procedure called a myomectomy. Even after this procedure, women should have at least an annual checkup since fibroids may grow back. Women who have not yet had children and wish to do so usually go this route. Women who have already had children, especially those who have previously had fibroids removed, may be recommended to have a hysterectomy where the entire uterus is removed.
Observe Symptoms and Act in a Timely Fashion
According to the Mayo Clinic, research has shown that “pregnancy and childbirth provide a protective effect on the growth of fibroids.” There have also been many instances where women who have had difficulty in conceiving, did so after fibroids which had become greatly enlarged were surgically removed.