All You Need to Know about Fibroids
Fibroids are the most common benign tumours affecting the uterus of women. Medically, fibroids are also known by the terms leiomyoma, myoma, or leiomyofibroma. Fibroids have been shown to be more common in people of African descent compared to other races and the frequency of occurrence increases with age until about 50 years of age when the frequency declines.
Fibroids may be located on any part of the uterus, from the body to the cervix and may also be located within the uterus where it interferes with pregnancy or can be located outside the uterus. It may be single but most times they are multiple. On rare occasions, fibroids may lose its uterine attachment and gain new blood supply from another organ (wandering/parasitic fibroid).
The following can protect or prevent a woman from having fibroids:
Below are some factors that can put one at a risk of developing fibroids:
The effect of fibroid on pregnancy is dependent on the location of the fibroid. The submucous type of fibroid is usually the most common culprit.
It may result in the following:
In addition to complications resulting during pregnancy, other complications include:
To identify its location, number and size, various modalities are employed. The choice of which depends on whether the patient is pregnant or not. They include:
Other investigations (i.e., blood tests) that may be ordered would depend on the effects of the fibroid on the person and the mode of treatment to be employed.
With better understanding and advancement in healthcare, the treatment of fibroid has evolved and is dependent on several factors. They include expectant management, medical therapy and surgical treatment.
Expectant management means observing the fibroid and only intervening when there are symptoms. It entails regular evaluation at the hospital (at least at intervals of between 6-12 months) and treatment of symptoms when present. It is employed in patients who are asymptomatic (especially those who are found incidentally) and in patients who decline medical or surgical treatment.
2. Medical Therapy
Fibroids depend on the female reproductive hormones to survive. Medications which alter this have been employed with great success. Also, medications employed in the treatment of cancers have been employed. Medical management is aimed at the following:
Where expectant management and medical therapy are unsuccessful, surgery is employed. The commonest symptoms for which surgery is employed include:
Surgical treatment may be open or laparoscopic depending on the size of the fibroid. Surgical removal of a fibroid is called myomectomy. On rare occasions, a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) may be employed.
Knowing that fibroid is essentially benign, patients and physicians are in no rush to make therapeutic decisions. There is a wide array of treatment now available including not doing anything. You should not be fooled by so called miracle drugs which are said to cure fibroid. Once you are in doubt about what to do, please Speak a Doctor or visit a hospital close to you to get expert advice on the next steps to take.