Fibroids are abnormal growths that develop in or on a woman’s uterus. Sometimes, these tumors become quite large and cause severe abdominal pain and heavy periods. In other cases, they cause no signs or symptoms at all. The growths are typically benign (noncancerous). Another medical term for fibroids is “leiomyoma” (leye-oh-meye-OH-muh) or just “myoma”. Fibroids can grow as a single tumor, or there can be many of them in the uterus. They can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. In unusual cases they can become very large.
About 70 to 80 percent of women develop fibroids by the time they reach age 50. Fibroids are most common in women in their 40s and early 50s. Not all women with fibroids have symptoms. Women who do have symptoms often find fibroids hard to live with. Some have pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. Fibroids also can put pressure on the bladder, causing frequent urination, or the rectum, causing rectal pressure. Should the fibroids get very large, they can cause the abdomen (stomach area) to enlarge, making a woman look pregnant.
Types of Fibroids
The name given to fibroids determine where is been located, different fibroids develop in different locations in and on the uterus.
Intramural Fibroids: They are the most common type of fibroid. These types appear within the lining of the uterus (endometrium). Intramural fibroids may grow larger and actually stretch your womb.
Subserosal Fibroids: They form on the outside of the uterus, which is called the serosa. They may grow large enough to make the womb appear bigger on one side.
Pedunculated Fibroids: When subserosal tumors develop a stem (a slender base that supports the tumor), they become pedunculated fibroids.
Submucosal Fibroids: These types of tumors develop in the inner lining (myometrium) of the uterus. Submucosal tumors are not as common as other types, but when they do develop, they may cause heavy menstrual bleeding and trouble conceiving.
What Causes Fibroids?
It is unclear why fibroids develop, but several factors may influence their formation. Some of these factors are:
Hormones: Estrogen and progesterone are the hormones produced by the ovaries. They cause the uterine lining to regenerate during each menstrual cycle and may stimulate the growth of fibroids.
Age: Fibroids become more common as women age, especially during the 30s and 40s through menopause. After menopause, fibroids usually shrink.
Family history: Having a family member with fibroids increases your risk. If a woman’s mother had fibroids, her risk of having them is about three times higher than average.
Ethnic origin: African women are more likely to develop fibroids than white women.
Obesity: Women who are overweight are at higher risk for fibroids. For very heavy women, the risk is two to three times greater than average.
Eating habits: Eating a lot of red meat (e.g., beef) and ham is linked with a higher risk of fibroids. Eating plenty of green vegetables seems to protect women from developing fibroids.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibroids?
Symptoms will depend on the location and size of the tumor(s) and the number of tumors. If tumor is very small, or if the patient is going through menopause, she may not have any symptoms. Fibroids may shrink during and after menopause.
Symptoms of fibroids may include:
Heavy bleeding between or during periods that includes blood clots
Pain in the pelvis and/or lower back
Increased menstrual cramping
Increased urinationPain during intercourse Menstruation that lasts longer than usual Pressure or fullness in the lower abdomen
Swelling or enlargement of the abdomen
What if I become pregnant and have fibroids?
Apart from generating symptoms, such as heavy Vag!nal bleeding, severe pelvic and back pain, constipation, and bloating, the most common problems seen in pregnant women withfibroids are:
Premature Labour: Depending on the location and size of the fibroids, pregnant women with fibroids may be at a greater risk of experiencing premature labour.
Miscarriages: Due to the increase in estrogen levels during pregnancy, fibroids can enlarge and displace the placenta. Large fibroids in the uterine cavity can create a shortage of space and hinder the growth of the baby, which may either lead to miscarriage or cause congenital deformities in the baby.
Cesarean Birth: Multiple fibroids located in the lower part of the uterus can block the Vag!na during pregnancy, making it necessary to have a cesarean birth.
Baby’s position can adversely be affected: Depending on the location and orientation of the fibroid, the baby can end up in either a transverse or breech position.
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