Uterine Fibroids - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Uterine Fibroids

Dr.Prathibha Penumalli profile Authored by Dr.Prathibha Penumalli on 24 Dec 2013 - 10:45.
Uterine fibroids are a mass of fibro-muscular growth which are benign tumours in the uterus. Round or semi round in shape they are named by the location where they occur in the uterus. They are of three types:
a) Submucosal fibroids originate inside the uterine cavity beneath the lining of the uterus. Because of its location they can impair fertility. Treatment of submucosa myoma may improve fertility chances.
b) Intramural fibroids are located within the muscular wall of the uterus.
c) Subserosal fibroids are located beneath the outer layer of the uterus and protrude into the abdominal cavity. These fibroids have the least affect on fertility aspect of the uterus.
It is observed that about 20 percent of women develop fibroids in their life time. The exact cause is unknown. Family history seems to be a key factor, as women of the same family complain of fibroids most often. Although they do not disturb ovulation they may cause problems in a pregnancy. They are most common in women postponing their pregnancies into their late thirties and in women who don't have children.
Some symptoms may lead to diagnosis of Fibroids - like menorrhagia (excessive menstrual flow) or dysmenorrhoea (pain during menstruation). Depending on their size, location within the uterus, and their proximity to pelvic organs, they cause symptoms like heaviness in the lower abdomen, frequent urination and pressure during defecation. Unless symptomatic, fibroids hardly need medical attention. Very less percentage of fibroids develop malignancy.The treatment is mainly dependent on the patient’s symptoms. Small asymptomatic fibroids can be left alone.
Most of the time, uterine fibroids do not cause symptoms or problems, and a woman with a fibroid is usually unaware of its presence. They get noticed through ultrasound as incidental findings most often. If fibroids do not cause any symptoms they can be left untreated. Your doctor might advice you as to how often you need to visit him/her, to monitor the growth, or any change in the fibroid.
Uterine fibroids can be managed in many ways. Surgical method is the most common treatment when necessary. Surgical interventions like Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or Myomectomy (removal of just the fibroids) are common, and is done through a laparoscope or with the normal open incision on the abdominal wall. Smaller fibroids resolve with conservative methods like a hormone intra-uterine contraceptive device.
Fibroids occur only during reproductive years, as they are dependent on oestrogen and progesterone (the female hormones) to grow. They are expected to shrink after menopause.
*Disclaimer This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.