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SheCAN Weekly Health Guide: What are Fibroids, symptoms and treatments

SheCAN Weekly Health Guide: What are Fibroids, symptoms and treatments

Do you know that around 1 in 3 women fibroids at some point in their lives?

Here’s a quick guide on what fibroids are, symptoms, cause and what treatments available.

What are fibroids:

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. Also known as leiomyomas or myomas, uterine fibroids are not associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and are not likely to develop into cancer.

Fibroids range in size from seedlings, that are undetectable, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus.

1 in 3 women develop uterine fibroids sometime during their lives but may be unaware of having them because they often cause no symptoms. Your doctor may discover fibroids incidentally during a pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound.

They most often occur in women aged 30 to 50. Fibroids are thought to develop more frequently in women of African-Caribbean origin.

Nearly a quarter of Black women between 18 and 30 have fibroids compared to about 6% of white women, according to some national estimates. By age 35, that number increases to 60%. Black women are also two to three times more likely to have recurring fibroids or suffer from complications.

See article here for more information. 

(Image: Stephanie King)

Symptoms:

Many women who have fibroids do not experience any symptoms. In those that do, symptoms can be influenced by the place, size and the number of fibroids.

In women who have symptoms, the most common signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Menstrual periods lasting more than a week
  • Pelvic pressure or pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Constipation
  • Backache/leg pains

In rare cases, further complications caused by fibroids can affect pregnancy or cause infertility.

Fibroids are generally categorised by their location:

Intramural fibroids grow within the muscular uterine wall.

Submucosal fibroids bulge into the uterine cavity.

Subserosal fibroids project to the outside of the uterus.

Why fibroids develop:

The exact cause of fibroids is unknown, but they have been linked to the hormone oestrogen.

Fibroids usually develop during a woman’s reproductive years (from around the age of 16 to 50) when oestrogen levels are at their highest.

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Fibroids often shrink after the menopause,when oestrogen levels are low, and your symptoms will usually either ease or disappear completely.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have:

  • Pelvic pain that doesn’t go away
  • Overly heavy, prolonged or painful periods
  • Spotting or bleeding between periods
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder
  • Unexplained low red blood cell count (anemia)

See a GP if you have persistent symptoms of fibroids so they can investigate possible causes.

Treating fibroids:

Fibroids do not need to be treated if they are not causing symptoms. Over time, they will often shrink and disappear without treatment, particularly after the menopause.

If you do have symptoms caused by fibroids, medicine to help relieve the symptoms will usually be recommended first.

There are also medications available to help shrink fibroids. If these prove ineffective, surgery or other, less invasive procedures may be recommended.

Read the full NHS guide on what treatments are available if you are experiencing severe symptoms – click here

(Image: Stock)

For more information on Uterine #Fibroids, read the full NHS overview of what you need to know of fibroids, and what steps to take after being diagnosed – click here