What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are usually non-cancerous tissue growths inside of the muscles of the uterine wall. Uterine fibroids can vary in size and shape. They can be single or multiple in number.
Different Types of Uterine Fibroids
- Sub-mucosal fibroids – occur inside of the myometrium. They are the one that cause heavy bleeding and even fertility problems. Sub-mucosal fibroids not so common.
- Intramural fibroids – occur inside of the endometrium. They can become larger and even stretch the uterus. Intramural fibroids are the most common type of uterine fibroids.
- Sub-serosal fibroids – occur outside of the uterus, in the serosa.
- Pedunculated fibroids – occur in cases when the serosa develops a slander base that supports the tumor. Pedunculated fibroids are sometimes seen even outside of the vagina.
Risk Factors of Uterine Fibroids Formation
The real cause of Uterine Fibroids is not known, however there are some risk factors that lead to their formation, like:
- Family history – woman who have sisters, mother or grandmother with uterine fibroids, are more likely to develop uterine fibroids.
- Hormones – estrogen and progesterone are the hormones that affect the uterine lining every month, helping it regenerate during every menstrual cycle. Hormonal imbalance can stimulate the growth of uterine fibroids.
- Pregnancy – it is well known that during pregnancy the production of estrogen and progesterone are increased. These hormonal changes lead to a rapid growth of uterine fibroids during pregnancy.
Women who are at a greater risk of developing uterine fibroids include the ones who suffer from obesity, who have family members with uterine fibroids, who gave birth in the past and the ones who are over the age of 30.
Signs and Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
Signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids will depend from their size, number and localization inside of the uterus. Uterine fibroids when small can be asymptomatic. However, signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids when they are bigger and multiple include:
- Heavy bleeding between or during menstrual periods
- Blood clots in menstrual bleeding
- Menstrual cramping
- Menstrual periods that last longer than usual
- Lower back pain and pelvic pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pressure or fullness in the lower abdomen
- Increased urination
- Swelling or enlargement of the abdomen, etc.
How Are Uterine Fibroids Diagnosed?
Uterine fibroids are diagnosed with the help of:
- Pelvic examination
- Pelvic MRI.
How Are Uterine Fibroids Treated?
The treatment of uterine fibroids will depend if they are symptomatic or not. Small and symptomatic uterine fibroids are only monitored, while large, multiple and fibroids that cause severe signs and symptoms are treated. Treatment of uterine fibroids consists of:
Medications – like gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists are used to balance the levels of estrogen and progesterone. They cause the shrinking of uterine fibroids and stopping of heavy menstrual periods. Pain relievers can help ease the pain which is caused by uterine fibroids, but will not shrink or eliminate them. Birth control pills also can help control the heavy menstrual bleeding, but will also not shrink or eliminate the uterine fibroids.
Surgery – is necessary in cases when very large and multiple uterine fibroids are present. In these cases myomectomy is performed. This procedure can be done laparoscopically or laparotomic and consists of removing the uterine fibroids.
Hysterectomy is necessary in cases when no other treatment works, and when you don’t want to have children in the future.
Minimally invasive procedures like the MyoSure procedure are now available for treating uterine fibroids. The MyoSure procedure consists of inserting a slander camera inside of the uterus. This slander camera allows a good visualization of the inner uterus lining. During the procedure a slander wand is also inserted which gently cuts the fibroids into small pieces. These small pieces are then removed outside of the uterus. This procedure is especially recommended for women who want to have children in the future.