What are fibroids?
Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors made up of muscle cells and connective tissues. Generally, fibroids develop in the uterus. Fibroids do not cause cancer because they are not capable of doing so; however, proper treatment is required to nullify uterine fibroids. Fibroids can vary from the size of a pea to the size of a melon. The actual cause of fibroids is still not known; however, they develop when estrogen levels found high in women.
Types of fibroids
Four types of fibroids occur in the uterus, and these types are:
- Intramural: The most common type of fibroid is intramural fibroids. In this, the fibroid gets developed in the muscular wall of the uterus.
- Subserosal fibroids:This type of fibroid exceeds the boundary of the muscular wall of the womb and grows within the surrounding outer layer of uterine. They can also develop into pedunculated fibroids, where the fibroids get enlarge.
- Submucosal fibroids: This type of fibroid usually found in the inner lining of the wall and fibroids can develop into the cavity of the womb.
- Cervical fibroids: In this type, fibroids grow in the neck of the womb i.e., cervix.
Symptoms of fibroids
Following are some common symptoms of fibroids
- Pain in back and legs
- Frequent urination
- Heavy or painful periods
- Discomfort in the lower abdomen
- Pain during intercourse
- Excessive bleeding during periods
- Facing difficulties in pregnancy
Diagnosis of fibroids
The symptoms of fibroids possess the mere possibility of having fibroids. The actual determination of fibroids is carried out by pelvic examinations. Your doctor may also do some technical inspections to rule out other possible conditions, which may include:
- MRI: MRI provides an image of internal organs, and it helps to determine the number, size, and exact location of fibroids. MRI often recommended before proceeding for surgical treatment.
- Transvaginal ultrasound: Transvaginal ultrasound is an ultrasound for the vagina and other organs near to it. This imaging test clears the presence of fibroids in the uterus.
- Hysteroscopy: This is a surgical procedure in which a small device with a camera attached to the end is inserted in the vagina to examine the womb. Hysteroscopy provides direct visualization of the inner cavity of the womb to detect any fibroid.
- Saline sonohysteragram: This is also a vaginal ultrasound in which a fluid i.e., saline is filled into the uterus, and with an expansion of the uterine cavity, your provider can determine whether there are fibroids or not.
Treatment of fibroids is necessary only if they are affecting the quality of life. Fibroids cause heavy periods, but if these symptoms are not causing significant problems, then treatment isn't required. During menopause, fibroids get shrink, and the respective symptoms become less apparent. In medicine, usually, medications are preferred before proceeding for surgery.
- Hormone therapy: Your doctor may ask you to stop taking birth control pills to prevent the growth of fibroids. In some cases, birth control pills may be prescribed to control bleeding and anemia from fibroids.
- GnRH agonists: GnRH agonist is a medicine that counters the GnRH hormones in the body. This medicine may be prescribed to shrink the fibroids and to reduce anemia. This drug can cause osteoporosis, in which the bones become frail. A low dose of progestin may also be asked to take to reduce the chances of osteoporosis.
- SERMs:SERM stands for a selective estrogen receptor modulator, which is a drug that controls the estrogen levels in the body. This drug can shrink the fibroids without causing any menopause symptoms.
- Endometrial ablation: In this method, the doctor removes the lining of the uterus so that bleeding can be stopped that caused due to the fibroids.
- Fibroid embolization: In this procedure, your doctor shrinks fibroids by injecting polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) into the arteries. This fluid blocks the regular supply of the fibroids and causes them to shrink. This method is not considered surgical, but you may need to stay for a few days in the hospital because you may come across nausea or vomiting and also pain.
- Hysterectomy: In this surgical method, the uterus is removed. This method is considered to be the last option because, after this surgery, you won't be able to get pregnant. Most of the fibroids get treated without this surgery; however, in extreme cases, this surgery is performed.