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#21: “When “Her” Goes Wrong!: Uterine Fibroids”

Updated: Mar 22, 2023


Gooooooood Morning Beauties! Today is going to be a FANTASTIC day because it’s #WomenWednesday!!! We are STILL continuing “Let’s Talk About Her” Series. I know, being a woman is quite complicated and complex right? Lol Welp, blame it on Eve lol But anyways! Our topic for today is UTERINE FIBROIDS. So let’s get right to it...

 

WHAT ARE FIBROIDS AND WHAT CAUSES THEM?

Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus (womb). Another medical term for fibroids is leiomyoma or just "myoma". Fibroids are almost always benign (not cancerous). Fibroids can grow as a single tumor, or there can be many of them in the uterus. They can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. In unusual cases they can become very large. No one knows for sure what causes fibroids. Researchers think that more than one factor could play a role. These factors could be:

  • Hormonal (affected by estrogen and progesterone levels)

  • Genetic (Runs in Families)

Because no one knows for sure what causes fibroids, we also don’t know what causes them to grow or shrink. We do know that they are under hormonal control- both estrogen and progesterone. They grow rapidly during pregnancy, when hormonal levels are high. They shrink when anti-hormone medication is used. They also stop growing or shrink once a woman reaches menopause.


CAN FIBROIDS TURN INTO CANCER?

Fibroids are almost always benign (not cancerous). Rarely (less than one in 1,000) a cancerous fibroid will occur. This is called leiomyosarcoma. Doctors think that these cancers do not arise from an already-existing fibroid. Having fibroids does not increase the risk of developing a cancerous fibroid. Having fibroids also does not increase a woman's chances of getting other forms of cancer in the uterus.


SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Heavy bleeding (Which can be heavy enough to cause anemia) or painful periods

  • Feeling of fullness in the pelvic area (lower stomach area)

  • Enlargement of the lower abdomen

  • Frequent Urination

  • Pain during sex

  • Lower back pain

  • Complications during pregnancy and labor, including a six-time greater risk of cesarean section

  • Reproductive problems, such as infertility, which is very rare


GIRL, DID YOU KNOW?!

About 20% to 80% of women develop fibroids by the time they reach age 50. Fibroids are most common in women in their 40s and 50s. Not all women with fibroids have symptoms. Women who do have symptoms often find fibroids hard to live with. Some have pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. Fibroids also can put pressure on the bladder, causing frequent urination, or the rectum, causing rectal pressure. Should the fibroids get very large, they can cause the abdomen (stomach area) to enlarge, making a woman look pregnant.


RISK FACTORS

  • Age: Fibroids become more common as women age, especially during the 30s and 40s through menopause. After menopause, fibroids usually shrink.

  • Family History: Having a family member with fibroids increases your risk. If a woman’s mother fibroids, her risk of having them is about 3x higher than average.

  • Ethnic origin. African American women are more likely to develop fibroids than white women.

  • Obesity: Women who are overweight are at higher risk for fibroids. For very heavy women, the risk is 2 to 3 times greater than average.

  • Eating Habits: Eating a lot of red meat (e.g. beef) and ham is linked with higher risk of fibroids. Eating plenty of green vegetables seems to protect women from developing fibroids.


WHAT IF I BECOME PREGNANT AND HAVE FIBROIDS?

Women who have fibroids are more likely to have problems during pregnancy and delivery. This doesn’t mean there will be problems. Most women with fibroids have normal pregnancies. The most common problems seen in women with fibroids are:

  • Cesarean Section

  • Baby is breech.

  • Labor fails to progress.

  • Placental abruption.

  • Preterm delivery.

Talk to your obstetrician (OBGYN) if you have fibroids and become pregnant.


HOW DO I KNOW FOR SURE THAT I HAVE FIBROIDS?

Your doctor may find that you have fibroids when you see her or him for a regular pelvic exam to check your uterus, ovaries, and vagina. The doctor can feel the fibroid with her or his fingers during an ordinary pelvic exam, as a (usually painless) lump or mass on the uterus.

Your doctor can do an imaging test to confirm that you have fibroids. These are tests that create a “picture” of the inside of your body without surgery. These tests might include:

  • Ultrasound

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • X-Rays

  • CAT Scan (CT)

  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) or Sonohysterogram

You might also have surgery to know for sure if you have fibroids. There are 2 types of surgery to do this:

  • Laparoscopy

  • Hysteroscopy


HOW ARE FIBROIDS TREATED?

Talk with your doctor about the best way to treat your fibroids. She or he will consider many things before helping you choose a treatment. Your doctor will check during your regular exams to see if they have grown.

Medications: If you have fibroids and have mild symptoms, your doctor may suggest taking medication.

  • Over-the-Counter drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used for mild pain.

  • If have heavy bleeding during your period, taking an iron supplement

  • Several drugs commonly for birth control can be prescribed to help control symptoms of fibroids.

Surgery: If you have fibroids with moderate or severe symptoms, surgery may be the best way to treat them. Here are the options:

  • Myomectomy: Surgery to remove fibroids without taking out the healthy tissue of the uterus.

  • Hysterectomy: Surgery to remove the uterus.

  • Myolysis: A needle is inserted into the fibroids, usually guided by laparoscopy, and electric current or freezing is used to destroy the fibroids.

  • Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), or Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE)

  • Endometrial Ablation


Resource:

Office of Women’s Health

Mayo Clinic


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