All about fibroids

January 30, 2015 Swedish Blogger

Fibroids are a benign growth of the muscular wall of the uterus. In some women, the cells of the muscle of the uterus start to grow and form a ball of tissue. This ball of tissue, or fibroid, can be very small such as the size of a pea to 10 cm or more in diameter. Fibroids can cause a woman to have heavy periods and bleed between periods, or may cause pressure on the bladder so she needs to urinate frequently, or may cause a large mass in the abdomen. Fibroids sometimes cause discomfort or pain, but not as often. 

What a woman who has fibroids notices depends on how large the fibroid is and where in the wall of the uterus the fibroid is sitting. A fibroid next to the inner lining of the uterus will cause heavier periods, but probably not bladder or mass symptoms. A fibroid on the outer wall of the uterus usually doesn’t impact her periods, and she may have no symptoms unless it grows quite big. 

Some women will have just one fibroid, but more often women have several or many fibroids. Some women who have fibroids find out that their mother or aunts or sisters have fibroids too. Also, some women notice they have fibroids that are not growing, while other women have fibroids that grow and cause more and more problems. Fibroids grow in response to a woman’s normal estrogen levels. When her estrogen levels are high, such as in a pregnancy, fibroids will grow faster. However once a woman has gone through menopause her hormone levels are very low and fibroids will shrink. In the several years prior to menopause, a woman’s hormones can be quite irregular and some women find their fibroids growing faster at that time.

Sometimes fibroids are found when an exam by a doctor shows an enlarged uterus. Getting an ultrasound to determine why a woman has a large uterus or is having heavy periods is an accurate way to diagnose fibroids. There are many ways to treat fibroids, depending on the size of the fibroids, what symptoms they are causing, whether a woman wants to get pregnant or not, for instance. Possible treatments include observation, surgery to remove the fibroid, surgery to remove the uterus, and a procedure called uterine artery embolization to block blood flow to the fibroids and cause them to shrink. Sometimes medications such as birth control pills are used to manage the bleeding from fibroids if surgery or a procedure is not needed. 

Remember, fibroids are benign, and where they are and how big they are determines if they need to be treated or not. If you have fibroids, talk to your doctor about options.

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