Uterine fibroids are common types of noncancerous tumours that generally grow in and on the uterus. Not all uterine fibroids can develop symptoms. However, one may face possible symptoms like frequent urination, back pain, menstrual bleeding, etc. There is no need to panic as the condition is treatable. Read on to learn more about uterine fibroids.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine Fibroids, also called myomas or cell leiomyomas, are muscular tumours commonly found in the uterus. Fibroids vary based on shape, location, and size. Fibroids may develop in the uterus, uterine walls, etc. When they grow, they can affect the shape and size of the uterus. Studies have found that the condition is common among women between the ages of 30 and 40. However, uterine fibroids are treatable. Talk to your doctor for more information.
Common Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
It has been seen that most women with uterine fibroids don't have any visible symptoms. However, there are some common symptoms that you should keep in mind. These are:
- Leg pain or back pain
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Frequent urination
- A long menstrual cycle
- Painful sex
- Discomfort in your rectum
These are categorised based on their locations. Intramural uterine fibroids can grow within the uterine wall. On the other hand, subserosal fibroids develop outside the uterus, and submucosal fibroids are commonly found in the uterine cavity.
Causes of Uterine Fibroids
There are no specific causes of uterine fibroids. Sometimes, genetics or hormones can lead to this condition. However, some causes to consider are:
- Genetic: Studies have found that genetic differences between normal cells and fibroids in the uterus can develop uterine fibroids.
- Hormones: Progesterone and estrogen are common hormones that thicken the uterus lining. Moreover, they can also affect the growth of fibroids. When the production of hormones slows down, uterine fibroids generally shrink.
- ECM: ECM or Extracellular Matrix makes cells stick together. Compared to normal cells, uterine fibroids may have more ECM. This is what makes fibroids fibrous. ECM can make your cells change.
- Growth factors: Various substances in the body that assist with tissue upkeep, for example, insulin-like growth factors, can influence fibroid growth.
Multiple risk factors can play a role in developing uterine fibroids. Some risk factors to consider are:
- Early onset of periods or menstruation
- High body weight or obesity
- Not having a child
- Family history of uterine fibroids
As per experts, following a diet lower in green veggies and higher in red meat, a vitamin D deficiency, drinking alcohol, and smoking can trigger the risk of uterine fibroids.
Even though uterine fibroids are not very dangerous or life-threatening, fibroids can develop discomfort and create complications like anaemia or a decrease in red blood cells. In some cases, a blood transfusion is required to increase the level of red blood cells.
Uterine Fibroids and Pregnancy
These muscular tumours generally do not affect your pregnancy. However, doctors have stated that submucosal fibroid may lead to pregnancy loss or infertility. On the other hand, uterine fibroids can increase the risk of various pregnancy complications, such as preterm delivery, fetal growth restriction, and placental abruption.
Diagnosis of Uterine Fibroids
These can be detected during a pelvic and gynecologic exam. However, different tests can be carried out to confirm the presence of uterine fibroids, their location and size. Your doctor may carry out Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), ultrasonography, Hysterosalpingography (HSG), Computed Tomography (CT) scan, or hysteroscopy.
Treatment Options for Uterine Fibroids
Treatment options for your Uterine Fibroids will depend on the number, location and size of the fibroids. Based on your condition, your doctor may suggest medications such as over-the-counter pain medications, iron supplements, GnRH-Gonadotropin Releasing hormone agonists, birth control or some oral therapies, like the Elagolix. Consult your doctor and inform your doctor about the medication you are using to avoid any possible complications.
If you are experiencing moderate to severe symptoms, your doctor may suggest surgery. Some options include endometrial ablation, myomectomy, uterine artery embolisation, laparotomy, and Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA).
Uterine fibroids are not preventable. However, studies have proven that by changing certain lifestyle habits, you can lower the risk of developing them. Avoid a high-sugar diet and consume cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, arugula, cauliflower, etc. These are natural sources of vitamins C, E, K, folate, beta-carotene, etc. Before taking any medication, talk to your doctor to avoid side effects.
You should completely avoid consuming red meats, high-fat dairy and processed foods as such foods will make the condition worse.
Well, if you have small fibroids and are not facing any symptoms, then you may not need to go for treatment.
If the size of the fibroid is more than 3cm, then it is important to get it removed as it can cause severe pain. It can be treated through a hysterectomy.
Yes, larger fibroids can make you gain weight, particularly in your abdomen area, causing your stomach to look big.
Yes, different studies inform that a myomectomy or hysterectomy can trigger weight loss in women.