Fibroids are small non-cancerous tumors that affect the uterus and are the most common gynecologic tumors in pre-menopausal women. These growths are made up of muscle fibres, and their underlying cause is still unknown. That said, there are a number of risks that, when present, can contribute to the development of fibroids: advanced age, a family history, and being obese can increase the likelihood of developing fibroids.
Fibroids can manifest with a variety of symptoms, some of which can be quite severe. Abdominal cramps, excessive bleeding during menstrual cycles and an enlarged abdomen are the most common symptoms. In addition, women with fibroids may experience an increased need for frequent urination or constipation. Fibroids can also cause pain during sexual intercourse. In some cases, fibroids can be asymptomatic, which is why it’s important to listen to your body and make sure to have regular check-ups.
There are a variety of treatments available for those with fibroids, depending on the severity of their condition and the symptoms that are presenting. Hormonal medications such as Lupron or GnRH agonists can be used to stop ovulation, slow the growth of fibroids, and provide relief from most symptoms. Non-hormonal medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, can also be used to treat symptoms. For those that do not respond to medications, Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) and myomectomy are the two most common surgical treatments for fibroids. UFE is a minimally invasive procedure in which the blood supply to the fibroids is blocked, and myomectomy is a surgical procedure in which the fibroids are removed.
The best way to prevent or reduce the risk of developing fibroids is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and reducing stress. It’s also important to be mindful of any body changes and to observe any irregular bleeding or abdominal pain. Women who are considered high risk for fibroids should speak to their doctor about ways to reduce their risk.
In short, fibroids are a very common gynecologic condition that can cause a variety of symptoms. While the underlying cause of fibroids is not known, there are a number of contributing factors that can increase the risk of developing them. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition and the presence of symptoms, and can range from medications to surgery. The best way to prevent or reduce the risk of fibroids is to practice a healthy lifestyle and to pay close attention to any changes in the body. Consult your physician if you experience any of the symptoms of fibroids described above or if you are considered at high risk for developing them.