Uterine fibroids: definition, symptoms and treatment

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. They can come in different sizes and shapes, ranging from tiny to as large as a grapefruit. Fibroids are located inside the uterus, on its outer surface or in the uterine wall. Their growth patterns can also vary, with some fibroids remaining small for long periods of time and others experiencing sudden, rapid growth. Although fibroids most often occur in women between the ages of 30 and 40, they can occur at any age. Even though women have basic knowledge about uterine fibroids, there are many unanswered questions that you need to know. Here are some of the most common questions you should know about uterine fibroids.

What causes uterine fibroids?

The exact cause of uterine fibroids is still unknown, but factors such as hormonal imbalances, genetics and estrogen levels are thought to play a role in their development.

Know the causes of uterine fibroids. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?

Symptoms of uterine fibroids can vary, but may include heavy or prolonged periods, pelvic pain or pressure, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, constipation, and abdominal swelling or bloating.

How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?

Uterine fibroids can be diagnosed with a pelvic exam, ultrasound, MRI, or other imaging tests.

Are uterine fibroids cancerous?

The majority of uterine fibroids are non-cancerous (benign). However, in rare cases, a fibroid can develop into cancer (leiomyosarcoma).

Do uterine fibroids always require treatment?

Not all uterine fibroids require treatment. If the fibroids are small, asymptomatic, or not affecting fertility, a doctor may recommend monitoring without intervention. Treatment is usually recommended if symptoms are severe or fertility is a concern.

What are the treatment options for uterine fibroids?

Treatment options for uterine fibroids may include medications to manage symptoms, hormone therapy, minimally invasive procedures such as uterine fibroid embolization – a minimally invasive procedure used to treat uterine fibroids, or surgical procedures. (such as myomectomy or hysterectomy). Of these, UFE is the safest and most effective alternative, with a shorter recovery time and fewer complications. It also allows women to preserve their uterus and fertility while finding relief from symptoms caused by uterine fibroids.

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What is the difference between hormone therapy, surgery and physiotherapy?

Hormone therapy, such as the use of birth control pills or patches, may be effective in managing symptoms associated with uterine fibroids. The surgery, like myomectomy, involves removing the fibroids while preserving the uterus. Physical therapy can help relieve pain associated with uterine fibroids through exercises and targeted treatment.

Can uterine fibroids affect fertility and pregnancy?

Uterine fibroids can sometimes affect fertility by interfering with the implantation of a fertilized egg or causing blockages in the fallopian tubes. They may also increase the risk of certain pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage, premature labor, or breech presentation.

Uterine fibroids and pregnancy
Uterine fibroids can cause complications during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Can uterine fibroids shrink on their own?

Uterine fibroids may shrink or stop growing after menopause due to declining estrogen levels. However, this is not always the case and individual factors can influence the growth of fibroids.

Can Lifestyle Changes Help Manage Uterine Fibroids?

Although lifestyle changes cannot directly treat uterine fibroids, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, managing stress, and avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption can help manage symptoms and general well-being.

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