“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

What are uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are growths on the uterus that women in the childbearing age group sometimes get. These are not cancerous and do not increase the risk of getting uterine cancer. The fibroids vary in size and there may be one or multiple. Many women have uterine fibroids at some time in their lives, and may not know about them, as they do not always cause any symptoms.

Possible Causes:

Uterine fibroids are benign growths which may appear in your uterus, uterine wall, or on its surface. They are made up of muscle and connective tissue. Fibroids may grow as a single nodule or in clusters and may range in size from 1 mm to more than 20 cm  in diameter.

The exact causes of fibroids are not known yet, but two factors probably contribute:

  • Hormones: Oestrogen and progesterone seem to affect fibroid growth. When hormone production reduces, with menopause, fibroids usually shrink.
  • Genetics: Research has found genetic differences between fibroids and normal cells in the uterus.

Risk Factors:

A number of factors increase the risk of developing uterine fibroids:

  • Age: The risk of developing uterine fibroids is higher among women of childbearing age - generally between 30 and 40 years old.
  • Obesity.
  • Nulliparous Women i.e. women who have never conceived.
  • Diet: Not eating enough green vegetables, fruit, or dairy products but eating excess of red meat.

Signs & Symptoms:

Some fibroids may not cause any symptoms and discomfort, so you may discover that you have them only due to a routine exam or ultrasound.

Sometimes fibroids cause symptoms, such as:

  • Heavy and/or painful periods.
  • Bleeding between periods – intermenstrual bleeding.
  • Mass/Swelling felt per abdomen.
  • Urinary symptoms like difficulty in passing urine.
  • Painful intercourse.
  • Miscarriages or infertility.

Diagnosis:

Fibroids are often discovered when the gynaecologist conducts a pelvic exam, as the shape of the uterus may have changed. Your doctor will recommend other tests in order to get more information. 

These tests could be:

  • Ultrasound – to determine the number, size and location of fibroids.
  • Blood tests – specially to rule out anaemia due to prolonged heavy blood loss.
  • MRI.
  • Hysterosonography, hysterosalpingography and hysteroscopy are some diagnostic procedures that may be used if the doctor requires to check the inside of the uterus or the fallopian tubes for abnormalities.

Treatment Options:

You may not even know that you have uterine fibroids because they often don’t show any symptoms. Treatment plans are based on the number, size, location of the fibroids, their symptoms, and your plans for future pregnancies.

  • If your menstrual cycle is irregular or you experience heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure, your gynaecologist may put you on a course of medications.
  • An MRI guided focused ultrasound surgery (MRgFUS) is a non-invasive treatment option.which uses thermal ablation to destroy the fibroids without impacting other tissues
  • Other minimally invasive procedures such as uterine artery embolization or myolysis, laparoscopic myomectomy & hysteroscopic myomectomy are commonly practised.
  • Traditional surgical procedures such as abdominal myomectomy or hysterectomy may be necessary in some cases.
  • Hysterectomy ends your ability to bear children, so your doctor will discuss your fertility options before suggesting a treatment plan.

Medications usually don't eliminate fibroids but may shrink them. However, on discontinuation of hormonal therapy they may grow again.

FAQs:الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • Are there ways for me to prevent fibroids?

    A: You can reduce your risk of developing fibroids by eating plenty of fruits like apples, vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and tomatoes, and whole-grain foods. Managing your blood pressure and stress is important. 

    Always check with your doctor before taking supplements, as some of them may increase certain hormone levels. Avoid eating a lot of red meats and processed foods.

  • I’m worried that my fibroids may cause me to get cancer.

    A: Don’t worry, it is extremely rare for a fibroid to become malignant or cancerous. While there is no test with 100% accuracy to predict whether this will happen, you should watch for fibroids that grow very rapidly, or grow even after menopause.

  • If I have fibroids, is it important to exercise regularly?

    A: Yes, regular exercise regulates your hormone levels, so it will benefit your fibroids.