Uterine Fibroids : Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Also known as Uterine Mymos or Leiomyomas, Uterine Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop inside or around the womb (uterus wall). Fibroids usually occur among women between the age of 30 and 50 (women under 30 can very well be prone, too). These can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are prevalent in 1 in every 3 women! Fibroids are also observed to occur among obese women because obesity is associated with an increase in estrogen production.

While fibroids usually either grow slowly or do not grow at all, there may be rare cases, where they grow quickly into big sizes. A chronic fibroid condition can stay for many years or even a lifetime. The good news is that the medical scope includes treatment, control measures, and close monitoring for improvement or complete eradication of the same.

What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?

With barely any symptoms, uterine fibroids require medical tests for detection. Usually detected incidentally during pelvic or gynaec examinations, fibroids can also be predicted by your doctor due to the irregularities in the shape of the uterus. However, common fibroid detection tests include ultrasound, CBC, pelvic tests, MRI, hysterosalpingography, hysteroscopy, etc. Below are the most common symptoms. Also, note that a huge section of women does not see any symptoms at all.

  1. Heavy menstrual bleeding
  2. Prolonged periods
  3. Spotting in times other than menstruation
  4. Pelvic/abdomen or lower back pain
  5. Anemia
  6. Frequent need to urinate
  7. Constipation
  8. Unusual pain/discomfort during sex
  9. Enlarged uterus or abdomen
  10. Miscarriage or difficulty in getting pregnant

What are the causes?

While the exact cause(s) is still unclear, it is observed that genetic and hormonal factors could be possible causes. If fibroids hail in the family history, then it is possible that one might be prone to fibroid risk. On the other hand, it is noted that the female hormone secretions (estrogen and progesterone) may also be a potential cause.

Interferes with pregnancy?

Commonly misconceptualized to cause deep harm to pregnancy, uterine fibroids rarely interfere with pregnancy. When they do, they may reduce the ease of becoming pregnant. After menopause, due to the drop in levels of reproductive hormones, fibroids tend to shrink. Estrogen and progesterone stimulate uterine lining development during the menstrual cycle in preparation for pregnancy. Fibroids contain more estrogen and progesterone receptors as compared to other uterine muscle cells; thus they seem to shrink after menopause due to the reduction in hormone release.

Treatment methods

Uterine fibroids are treatable by a medical professional. There is no one particular way to treat fibroids. Depending on each individual case, treatment measures may widely vary. However, the broad spectrum of treatment methods includes:

  1. Medication – Medicines like Gn-RH agonists, IUD, Lysteda, etc target the hormones that regulate your menus thus treating heavy/abnormal bleeding. Further, that results in dealing with high pelvic pressures. Note that medications don’t usually dissolve fibroids but they shrink them.
  2. Non-invasive methods – Sonication is used to destroy fibroids.
  3. Minimally invasive methods – Uterine artery embolization, laparoscopic, myolysis, hysteroscopic myomectomy, endometrial ablation.
  4. Traditional surgical methods – Abdominal myomectomy, hysterectomy.

NOTE: Hysterectomy and endometrial ablation – NOT for those who may wish to get pregnant in the future. This article is a piece of general information. Causes, symptoms, and treatment may all vary from patient to patient. Do not consider this write-up as your personal medical guide.

Written by MedPlus