Uterine Fibroids are non-cancerous growths of the uterus. They are made up of muscle cells and tissues that grow in and around the walls of the uterus. They are also known as fibromyomas, leiomyomas or myomas. According to statistics from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) at least 25% of women suffer from this condition. Most women between the age group of 40 – 60 years are affected by Uterine Fibroids.
Most women affected by uterine fibroids are unaware of it as no symptoms are detected in the early stages. Sometimes, the fibroids start growing and this leads to severe pain. Symptoms of uterine fibroids may include:
- Painful periods and bleeding between periods
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Urge to urinate frequently
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Lower back pain
- Infertility and reproductive problems
- Uterine Fibroids may cause pregnancy complications.
- There is a possibility of premature delivery in pregnant women due to lack of room in the uterus caused by fibroids.
- Fibroids may also block the birth canal or cause a change in the baby’s position.
- Fibroids may also cause heavy bleeding in pregnant women after giving birth.
- Women affected by fibroids are at a greater risk of developing urinary tract infections.
Uterine fibroids can be treated by medicines that slow or stop their growth. Surgery is another option wherein depending on the symptoms and severity, the doctor would suggest the best option. Surgery options include:
- Myomectomy – Fibroids are removed without taking out the healthy tissues of the uterus.
Hysterectomy – If the fibroids are large and very painful, hysterectomy is the best option. It involves removal of the uterus.
- Endometrial Ablation – In cases of heavy bleeding due to fibroids, the lining of the uterus is removed or destroyed by this surgery.
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization or Uterine Artery Embolization – This surgery involves inserting a thin tube into the blood vessels supplying blood to the fibroid. Plastic or gel particles are then passed on through this tube which block the blood supply to the fibroid and cause it to shrink.