I had not really heard much about fibroids prior to being diagnosed with one and having an emergency hysterectomy 4 days after that! Seriously, I either spent most of my time in high school health classes completely zoned out, or women’s health issues just aren’t discussed much (even though about a third of women have fibroids!). Since my surgery, I have been trying to learn more about fibroids. I actually only had one and it was not overly large, sizing in at 3cm. However, given its placement, it caused lots of problems. That’s the funny thing about fibroids…it’s difficult to predict how any one fibroid will impact any given woman. Some women have many fibroids and have no issues whatsoever. Others, such as yours truly, can have one fairly small one and feel like she’s bleeding to death. Since I am not a medical expert, I thought I would share with you some information from the Hysterectomy Association in the UK. They are a great resource for some of the more technical aspects on these issues. Here’s some information from their site:
“A fibroid is a benign tumour of the uterus and they will often appear either within the muscular wall of the uterus or on the outside of the wall. It is thought that around 30% of all hysterectomies performed in the United States are due to fibroids.
It is not known what causes fibroids, although it is known that they are related to the production of estrogen, although there are no clear studies showing that women who have fibroids have higher than average levels of estrogen. It is known that, as with endometriosis, they will usually shrink following the menopause.
The rate at which they grow depends on individual women, they can be very small or the size of a melon and the size can bear no resemblance to the severity of the symptoms experienced. but you may have had. You may also experience problems with your bladder if the fibroid presses on it. Finally you may also find that sex is painful.
Fibroids may also interfere with conception if they protrude into the uterus. They may also be a cause of premature births if they are taking up to much room within the uterus. Both of these instances only happen rarely.
It is estimated that between 25 – 35% of all women will have fibroids in varying sizes.
The Center for Uterine Fibroids based at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts is conducting a study to determine if there is a genetic link to fibroids. They are looking for women with fibroids who have close female relatives who also have the condition. If you are interested in taking part follow the link below.
- heavy or prolonged bleeding particularly if the fibroid is growing underneath the lining of the uterus as this increases the surface area of the uterus
- spotting between periods
- awareness of fullness or pressure in the abdomen
- increase in urinary frequency or stress incontinence
- constipation, if the fibroids are pressing on the rectum
- swelling of the abdomen
- pain in the abdomen if the blood supply to the fibroid is reduced which results in it dying off (usually due to a speedy growth)
- sudden, severe pain if a fibroid on a stalk (a pendiculate fibroid) twists causing the blood supply to stop.
What Treatment is Available?
Observation may be recommended where the fibroids present no symptoms to the woman and if they appear to be growing slowly.
Drug therapies such as Synarel, which are also used in the treatment of endometriosis, may be used to shrink a large fibroid to a size where surgery can be performed to remove the fibroid without damaging the uterus beyond repair. They are also particularly useful where there is very heavy bleeding as they create an artificial menopause and bleeding is stopped. A Potential side effects of these drugs is the menopausal symptoms that you may experience.
Find out more at their website!