What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids, also known to the medical community as uterine myomas, fibromyomas or leiomyomas, are benign uterine tumours that grow during a woman’s reproductive years. The location of fibroids varies with case – they can be found on both the inner and outer linings of the uterus, as well as within the uterine walls. They typically stem from the abnormal growth of a singular cell.
While uterine fibroids are sometimes no cause for concern, they have been linked with serious problems like infertility, spontaneous abortions, and preterm births. Other problems associated with this condition are heavy, painful and/or prolonged menstrual bleeding. The treatment options available include both surgical and non-surgical methods and are selected upon consideration of the size, extent, and location of the fibroids. Uterine fibroids don’t typically become cancerous – the chance that a fibroid will turn cancerous is less than 1%.
Fibroids: Symptoms and Signs
Since they depend upon the size and location of the growths, symptoms of uterine fibroids frequently do not manifest themselves. Nevertheless, most of the symptoms associated with the condition are cause for concern. If you have any of the fibroids symptoms below, talk to Dr G. With his medical expertise and up-to-date knowledge, he can appease your fears and offer you the information and treatment you need for the removal of fibroids. Symptoms of fibroids include:
- Heavy and/or prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Pelvic pain and/or pressure
- Fertility problems
- History of miscarriage
- Metrorrhagia (abnormal bleeding between periods)
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Persistent need to urinate
- Urinary incontinence
- Lumps or mass in the lower abdomen
Types of Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are classified on the basis of their location. The different categories include:
- Intramural fibroids. These growths occur within the muscular wall of the uterus and comprise the commonest category of fibroids.
- Submucosal fibroids. These fibroids appear on the inner lining of the uterus (also known as the endometrium). This category is usually responsible for heavy, painful, or prolonged menstrual bleeding.
- Subserosal fibroids. These large fibroids are found on the exterior uterine wall and have a balloon-like appearance.
- Pedunculated fibroids. These fibroids are attached to the uterus by a stalk and usually grow outside the uterus.
Complications of Fibroids in the Uterus
Fibroids in the uterus can cause a variety of complications, including:
- Anaemia. Excessive menstrual blood loss can cause anaemia, a disorder in which the blood’s ability to circulate adequate oxygen is impaired. The primary symptoms of anaemia include shortness of breath, tiredness, weakness, and paleness of skin.
- Urination problems. The presence of large fibroids in the uterus can cause it to press against the bladder. This can lead to a persistent feeling of fullness, a constant urge to urinate, difficulty emptying the bladder and urinary incontinence.
- Infertility. The existence of fibroids in the uterus can also impede the implantation of fertilised eggs, thus causing problems with conception.
- Miscarriage and preterm birth. If the uterine fibroids interfere with the flow of blood to your placenta or vie with the foetus for space, your pregnancy could end with a spontaneous abortion or premature delivery.
Diagnosing Uterine Fibroids
The presence of fibroids in the uterus can be verified using an ultrasound—an imaging technique that uses sound waves to create a two-dimensional image of your womb. Your uterus can also be examined with the help of a hysteroscope — a thin, tubular device that passes into your womb through the cervix. A tiny camera is affixed to the end of the hysteroscope, allowing the images received to be displayed on a computer screen.
If your fibroids are asymptomatic, Dr G might decide that they need no treatment. Medical intervention to ensure the removal of fibroids would be necessary if they:
- are sizable enough to interfere with the functioning of other internal organs
- grow rapidly
- cause heavy or prolonged bleeding
- interfere with your desire and ability to become pregnant
The uterine fibroids treatment options that Dr G offers you will be those most suited to your individual case and will take the location, size and extent of the fibroids into account. These options include:
- Drugs. Advancements in science make it possible for medicines, such as hormonal drugs, to diminish the size of your fibroids before surgery
- Hysteroscopy. Operative hysteroscopy makes it possible for fibroids in the uterus to be removed with the help of a hysteroscope — a thin tubular device passed through the cervix.
- Laparoscopic Myomectomy. Also known as keyhole surgery, this minimally invasive technique is frequently employed to deal with symptomatic fibroids. It involves the removal of fibroids with the assistance of a thin tube inserted through the abdomen. The procedure is associated with quick recovery and minimal complications. It is the ideal option for women who desire to conceive in the future.
- Open Myomectomy. This surgical procedure may be used to deal with large fibroids in the uterus. Since it leads to the weakening of the walls of the uterus, it increases the likelihood of you requiring a Caesarean section for future pregnancies
- Laparoscopic Hysterectomy. Unlike a regular hysterectomy, a laparoscopic hysterectomy has the potential for fewer complications and allows women to recover faster. Since this form of keyhole surgery involves the removal of the uterus, it is ideal for women who do not wish to conceive in the future.
Uterine fibroids may look scary and have serious consequences — but with your case in the hands of a competent specialist like Dr G, you will have nothing to worry about.