While there are several menstrual disorders that a woman might come across in her life, fibroids are rather common. What exactly is a Fibroid? Also referred to as myomas, uterine myomas or fibromas, these are generally abnormal growths in a woman’s uterus. They may vary on a case-to-case basis - some are large and cause severe pain and heavy periods, while for some, there are no symptoms and they do not cause any trouble in daily life. Most of the growths are benign or non-cancerous.
Types of Fibroids
The type of fibroid a woman has, depends on its location in the uterus. The most common type are the intramural fibroids that appear within the muscular wall of the uterus. In most cases, these fibroids grow in size and can even stretch the womb. The other kind is subserosal fibroids that are generally seen on the outside of the uterus, also known as serosa. In this case, it generally grows large enough to make your womb appear bigger on one side. The third kind are called pedunculated fibroids that generally develop a stem that supports a tumour. Lastly, submucosal fibroids develop in the middle muscle layer of the uterus and aren’t as common.
Causes of Fibroids
While the exact cause of fibroids is unknown, here are a few factors that could possibly have an effect on their formation:
It is the hormones estrogen and progesterone that cause the uterine lining to shed and regenerate every month during each menstrual cycle. In some cases, this could also lead to the growth of fibroids.
If any female member of your family has previously suffered or is suffering from fibroids, then there’s a higher risk of you developing it.
With pregnancy, the levels of estrogen and progesterone rise in your body and can trigger the rapid growth of fibroids.
If you are above the age of 30 years and have a high body weight, your risk of developing fibroids multiplies.
Symptoms of Fibroids
The symptoms of fibroids generally vary based on the type you suffer from. Generally, if your tumour isn’t too large or develops after menopause, you may see no symptoms. This is because post-menopausal women experience a drop in their levels of estrogen and progesterone that stimulates fibroid growth.
The most common symptoms include heavy bleeding between or during periods, pain in the pelvic region or lower back, increased cramping and urination, pain during intercourse, bloating in the lower abdomen, and swelling or enlargement of the abdomen.
Diagnosis of Fibroids
You need to visit a gynaecologist to get a pelvic exam that will inform the doctor about the condition, size, and shape of the uterus. The doctor may also ask you to get an ultrasound to be sure if fibroids are present. There’s a Trans-vaginal Ultrasound, wherein a wand is inserted into the vagina to get a clear picture of the uterus.
Besides, Pelvic MRI is also significant to diagnose fibroids and produce images of your uterus and ovaries.
Home Remedies and Natural Treatments
While medication is provided basis the type of fibroid, there are some alternative treatments like acupuncture, yoga, massage, and heat therapy for cramps that are effective for fibroids. That’s not all - make sure you adopt some dietary changes, including the avoidance of meat and high-calorie foods. Instead, go for foods high in flavonoids, consume green tea, and make sure you get your dose of tuna or salmon.
It is also important to manage stress and lose weight, if you want your fibroids to get better.
Generally, medicines that regulate hormones are prescribed to control fibroids. Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) agonists, such as Leuprolide (Lupron), help the estrogen and progesterone levels to drop, thereby controlling the growth of fibroids. For some, an intrauterine device or birth control pills help in the control of pain and bleeding.
In some cases, surgery is important to remove large or multiple growths in the uterus, which is known as a myomectomy. An abdominal myomectomy involves making a large incision in the abdomen to access the uterus and removing the fibroids. If the situation does not come under control, the doctor may perform a hysterectomy.
There are some other non-invasive methods such as Endometrial Ablation, which includes insertion of a special instrument into your uterus to destroy the uterine lining using heat, electric current, or hot water.
In most cases, fibroids do not cause any issues. If you feel anything concerns you, do not wait and consult a doctor as soon as possible. After all, listening to your body is the best solution!