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Understanding Fibroids: What They Are and How They Affect Women's Health



Are you familiar with fibroids? These small, non-cancerous growths may seem harmless at first glance, but the truth is that they can have a significant impact on women's health. Whether you've heard of fibroids before or this is your first encounter with them, this blog post will unravel their mystery and delve into their effects on women's bodies. Join us as we explore everything from their causes and symptoms to potential treatment options—empowering every woman to take control of her own well-being. Get ready to understand fibroids like never before!


Introduction to Fibroids: Definition and Overview


Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the uterus. They can range in size from as small as a seed to as large as a grapefruit, and they can appear at any age but are most commonly found in women of childbearing age. Also known as uterine fibroids or leiomyomas, these growths can be located on the inner lining of the uterus, within the walls of the uterus, or attached to the outer surface of the uterus.


While fibroids are not considered life-threatening, they can cause uncomfortable symptoms and potentially impact a woman's fertility and overall quality of life. In this section, we will provide an overview of what fibroids are and how they affect women's health.


Definition

As previously mentioned, fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in or around the uterus. They are made up of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue which give them their dense and rubbery texture.


Overview

It is estimated that up to 80% of women will develop fibroids by the age of 50. However, many may not experience any symptoms or require treatment. Fibroids often go undetected unless there is an imaging exam such as an ultrasound or MRI.


There are several types of fibroids, classified based on their location within the uterus:

1) Subserosal - These grow on the outer wall of the uterus.

2) Intramural - Growth on the inside wall of the uterus.


Types of Fibroids and Their Symptoms


Fibroids are a common health condition that affects many women, with statistics showing that up to 80% of women will develop them at some point in their life. While they are usually benign and not life-threatening, fibroids can still cause discomfort and other symptoms that can significantly impact a woman's quality of life. In this section, we will discuss the different types of fibroids and the symptoms associated with each.


1. Intramural Fibroids


Intramural fibroids are the most common type, making up about 70-80% of all fibroid cases. These fibroids grow within the muscular wall of the uterus and can vary in size from tiny to large masses. Most women with intramural fibroids do not experience any symptoms, but those who do may have heavy or prolonged menstrual periods, pelvic pressure or pain, and frequent urination.


2. Submucosal Fibroids


Submucosal fibroids grow just under the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) and often protrude into the uterine cavity. They can cause abnormal bleeding or spotting between periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, and an increased risk for miscarriage.


3. Subserosal Fibroids


Subserosal fibroids develop on the outside layer of the uterus (the serosa), which is why they are called subserosal. They usually grow outwardly towards your abdominal cavity and can become quite large without causing any noticeable symptoms unless they press against organs like your


Causes and Risk Factors for Developing Fibroids


Fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomas, are non-cancerous growths that develop in the uterus. They can vary in size from as small as a seed to as large as a grapefruit and often occur during a woman's reproductive years. The exact cause of fibroids is still unknown; however, there are certain factors that may increase the risk of developing them.


Below are some of the most common causes and risk factors for developing fibroids:


1. Hormonal Imbalance: Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle, and they play an essential role in the development of fibroids. Fibroids contain more estrogen and progesterone receptors than normal uterine cells, which suggest that these hormones may have a significant impact on their growth.


Estrogen levels naturally rise during pregnancy and reduce after menopause when periods stop. This is why fibroids tend to grow during these times when hormonal levels fluctuate.


2. Family History: Women with a family history of fibroids have a higher chance of developing them compared to those who do not have any relatives with this condition. Research has shown that if your mother or sister has had fibroids, you are three times more likely to develop them.


3. Race/Ethnicity: Studies suggest that African-American women have a higher incidence of fibroids compared to other ethnicities. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of African-American women will develop fibroids by the


Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Fibroids


Diagnosis:


Fibroids are often detected during routine gynecological check-ups or when experiencing symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pressure, or pain. However, diagnosis usually involves a combination of medical history review, pelvic examination, and imaging tests.


Medical History Review: Your doctor will ask about your family history of fibroids and any previous gynecological issues. It is important to inform them about any symptoms you have been experiencing in detail.


Pelvic Examination: During a pelvic exam, your doctor will feel for abnormalities in the shape or size of your uterus. They may also be able to identify the presence of firm lumps or growths on the walls of your uterus.


Imaging Tests: To confirm the presence and location of fibroids, your doctor may order imaging tests such as ultrasound, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), or hysteroscopy (a procedure where a thin instrument with a camera is inserted into the vagina to view the inside of the uterus).


Treatment Options:


The treatment option for fibroids depends on factors such as size and location of fibroids, severity of symptoms, age and overall health condition. Some women may require no treatment unless they experience severe symptoms whereas others may require immediate treatment.


Medications:

Your doctor may prescribe medications to help control heavy bleeding caused by fibroids. These include hormonal birth control pills which can regulate menstrual cycles and reduce blood loss.


Medications are often prescribed to manage the symptoms of fibroids, especially for women who do not wish to pursue surgical options. While medication cannot cure fibroids, they can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.


1. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs):

NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help reduce pain and discomfort associated with fibroids. They work by reducing inflammation and blocking the production of prostaglandins, which cause pain. However, these medications should be used sparingly and under medical supervision as long-term use can lead to side effects such as stomach ulcers and kidney damage.


2. Hormonal Birth Control:

Hormonal birth control methods such as oral contraceptive pills, patches or hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs) can help regulate menstrual bleeding in women with heavy periods caused by fibroids. These methods contain hormones that prevent ovulation and thin the lining of the uterus, resulting in lighter and shorter periods.


3. Progestin Intrauterine Devices (IUDs):

Progestin IUDs are specifically designed to target heavy bleeding caused by fibroids. The device releases a hormone called progestin which has a local effect on the uterine lining, thinning it out over time. This leads to a decrease in menstrual flow.


4.Prescription Tranexamic Acid:

This medication works by slowing down blood clot breakdown during menstruation, helping reduce heavy bleeding caused by fib


- Non-Invasive Procedures (e.g. Uterine Artery Embolization)


Non-invasive procedures, such as uterine artery embolization (UAE), have become increasingly popular in the treatment of fibroids. Unlike traditional surgical methods, these procedures do not require any incisions in the abdomen and are therefore considered less invasive. Let's take a closer look at UAE and how it can benefit women with fibroids.


What is Uterine Artery Embolization?


Uterine artery embolization, also known as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), is a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting off the blood supply to the fibroid(s) by injecting tiny particles into the uterine arteries. These particles block the blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and eventually die.


How is it Performed?


During UAE, you will lie on your back with your legs slightly elevated and sedation may be given to help you relax. The doctor will then insert a thin tube called a catheter into an artery through a small incision usually made around the groin area. Using imaging techniques such as X-ray or MRI, the radiologist guides this catheter towards the uterine arteries that supply blood to your uterus. Once in place, tiny plastic beads are injected through the catheter into these specific arteries where they lodge themselves into small branches of vessels leading to each individual fibroid. This blocks their blood supply and causes them to shrink over time.


- Surgical Options (e.g. Hysterectomy or Myomectomy)


Surgical options are often considered as a last resort for treating fibroids, after other methods such as medication and lifestyle changes have been tried and found to be unsuccessful. However, in some cases, surgery may be the best option for managing fibroids and improving women's overall health.


One of the most common surgical procedures for treating fibroids is a hysterectomy. This involves removing the entire uterus, thereby eliminating any existing fibroids. Hysterectomy is typically recommended for women who have severe symptoms or large fibroids that cannot be effectively managed through other treatments. It may also be recommended for women who have completed their childbearing or those whose fibroids are causing complications such as excessive bleeding or pressure on surrounding organs.


Another surgical option is myomectomy, which involves removing only the fibroid while leaving the rest of the uterus intact. This procedure may be performed via an open abdominal incision, laparoscopy (minimally invasive surgery using small incisions), or hysteroscopy (where a scope is inserted through the vagina and cervix). Myomectomy is generally recommended for younger women who wish to preserve their fertility or those with smaller fibroids that can be easily removed without damaging the uterus.


Both hysterectomy and myomectomy carry risks and potential side effects, so it's important to discuss these with your doctor before deciding on any surgical procedure. You should also carefully consider your reasons for wanting surgery and whether there are alternative treatments that could adequately manage your symptoms without resorting to


Pros of Fibroid Surgery: Is it a Major Surgery?


Fibroids are a common health issue that affects many women, with an estimated 20-80% of women experiencing them in their lifetime. While some women may not experience any symptoms or complications from fibroids, others may require medical intervention such as surgery to manage their symptoms.


There are various types of fibroid surgeries available, and each comes with its own set of benefits and risks. In this section, we will discuss the pros and cons of fibroid surgery to help you understand if it is a major surgery and what you can expect during and after the procedure.


Pros of Fibroid Surgery:


1. Effective Treatment: The main benefit of fibroid surgery is that it is an effective treatment method for managing fibroids. Surgery can help alleviate symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pressure, and pain.

2. Reduces Symptoms: Surgery for fibroids aims to remove or shrink the fibroid tumors, which can significantly reduce or eliminate associated symptoms.

3. Prevents Complications: Large or multiple fibroids can lead to complications such as anemia due to excessive bleeding or fertility issues. Surgery can prevent these potential complications by removing the problematic tumors.

4. Improves Fertility: In some cases where fertility is affected by uterine fibroids, surgical removal of these tumors can increase the chances of conceiving.

5. Minimally Invasive Options Available: Depending on the size and location of your fibroids, your doctor may recommend minimally invasive procedures like laparoscopic my


Recovery


Recovery is a crucial part of managing fibroids and regaining control over your health. It involves both physical healing from any treatments or procedures, as well as emotional healing from the impact of fibroids on your life.


There are several factors that can affect the recovery process for women with fibroids, including the severity of their symptoms and the type of treatment they undergo. In this section, we will discuss some common recovery experiences and offer tips for supporting your body during this time.


Surgical Recovery:


If you've had surgery to remove fibroids or undergo a hysterectomy, it's important to give yourself enough time to heal properly. This may mean taking time off work or modifying activities until your doctor allows you to resume normal daily tasks.


After surgery, most women experience pain and discomfort in the pelvic area for a few days. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to alleviate this discomfort. Taking it on schedule as directed is important in controlling pain levels.


It's also common to experience fatigue and have low energy levels after surgery. This is due to your body using its resources to recover from the procedure. Be patient with yourself and allow plenty of rest during this time.


You may also notice some vaginal bleeding after surgery, which should gradually decrease over several weeks. Wearing loose clothing and avoiding strenuous activities can help manage post-surgery bleeding.


It's essential to follow all post-operative instructions given by your doctor carefully. These may include avoiding lifting heavy objects, refraining from sexual activity.


Conclusion


Fibroids are a common health issue that many women face, but there is still much to learn about them. By understanding what fibroids are and how they can impact women's health, we can better advocate for our own well-being and seek proper treatment if needed. It is important to stay informed and in tune with our bodies to ensure optimal health and wellness. With this knowledge, we can make educated choices about our healthcare and take control of our overall wellness. Remember, you are not alone in this journey and there is always support available for those affected by fibroids.



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