Fibroids Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Published: 25th July 2008
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Fibroids or Uterine Fibroids also known as cancerous myomas are benign or non-cancerous tissues that grow on or within the area of uterus. Cells that form muscles of the uterus mostly form them. Fibroids are common in women from the age of 30-50. The most common symptoms associated with fibroids are painful periods, back pain, heavy bleeding during menstruation and pain during intercourse. The size of the fibroids are variable they can be negligibly small or as huge as ball.



Fibroids are very common. Approximately 30 percent of women have fibroids large enough to cause symptoms. Some studies suggest that many more women have fibroids but most fibroids do not cause symptoms. Fibroids that remain small may never require treatment. Since the female hormone estrogen appears to encourage their growth, fibroids usually shrink at menopause and rarely cause problems after this time.



Uterine fibroids are the most common non-cancerous tumors in women of childbearing age. Fibroids are made of muscle cells and other tissues that grow in and around the wall of the uterus, or womb. The cause of fibroids is unknown. Risk factors include being African-American or being overweight.



Causes



Uterine fibroids develop from the smooth muscular tissue of the uterus (myometrium). A single cell reproduces repeatedly, eventually creating a pale, firm, rubbery mass distinct from neighboring tissue. Fibroids range in size from seedlings, undetectable by the human eye, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. They can be single or multiple, in extreme cases expanding the uterus so much that it reaches the rib cage.



Symptoms



The symptoms depend on the size, location, number, and the pathological findings. Fibroids, particularly when small, may be entirely asymptomatic. Generally, symptoms relate to the location of the lesion and its size. Important symptoms include abnormal gynecologic hemorrhage, heavy or painful periods, abdominal discomfort or bloating, back ache, urinary frequency or retention, and in some cases, infertility. There may also be pain during intercourse, depending on the location of the fibroid. During pregnancy they may be the cause of miscarriage, bleeding, premature labor, or interference with the position of the fetus.



Treatment



Most fibroids don't need to be treated unless the symptoms are causing you problems. Your doctor will make a recommendation based on:



• the amount of pain or blood loss during menstrual periods

• how quickly the fibroid is growing

• your age, since fibroids shrink with the onset of the menopause

• your desire to have children.



In most cases, treatment is not necessary, particularly if you have no symptoms, have small tumors, or you have gone through menopause. Abnormal vaginal bleeding caused by fibroids may require scraping of the uterine cavity in a procedure known as a D&C. If no malignancy (cancer) is found, this bleeding often can be controlled by hormonal medications. Discuss the following treatment options with your health care provider.



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