Uterine fibroids are growths of the uterus that usually develop when a woman is in her childbearing years. Three out of four women will develop uterine fibroids during their lifetime. Most, however, won’t even know it because many times fibroids are not symptomatic.
In the case of women who do have symptoms, they may experience the following:
Heavy bleeding during cycle
Extended menstrual periods — seven days or more
Pelvic discomfort or pain
Bladder hard to completely empty
Backache or leg pains
When you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, including spotting between periods or painful intercourse, it may be time to see the doctor. Interestingly, if your mother or sister had fibroids, chances are that you will too. Even race plays a factor as studies indicate that black women are more likely to have fibroids than any other race.
Is there a cancer connection?
Medical research reveals that uterine fibroids aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer. There are complications associated with this condition, but first, why do they develop anyway?
The answer is not clear. Doctors do know that genetic alterations, hormones and even natural chemicals produced by the body (insulin-like growth factor) may be reasons.
But when complications become persistent and intense, it is best to seek medical help. Heavy blood loss and anemia can develop as well as severe pain. And even though many can have a successful pregnancy with fibroids, some women have had repeated lost pregnancies.
Research clearly shows that fibroids cause a slight increase in miscarriages, premature labor and delivery, abnormal fetal position and placenta separation. When this occurs, your doctor will probably discuss the possibility of removing some of or all of your fibroids to decrease this risk.
But what if you are one that is finding it necessary to get further medical help due to complications that your fibroids have brought about? The first line of defense is medications that shrink the growth or make them disappear altogether -- IUDs, androgens, Danazol, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists -- are a few that are frequently used.
When childbirth is not a concern and symptoms are worsening, some have decided to undergo a hysterectomy, a surgical extraction of the uterus. But if there is a possibility of you wanting children in the future, you may decide to choose a myomectom, which is removal of fibroids only.
Remember, talk openly with your doctor about your expectation and desires and he or she should tell you what is available for you.
Best in Health!
Uterine Fibroids. Mayo Clinic. Web. 9 November 2011.
Uterine Fibroids. PubMed Health. Web. 9 November 2011.
Dita Faulkner is a blogger for women’s issues and interests. Check out her latest entry at:
Reviewed November 10, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
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