Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that appear in the uterus, often during the childbearing years. These growths can be called fibromyomas, leiomyomas or myomas. Commonly uterine fibroids are not associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into a cancerous growth. This means they are classified as a benign tumor.
For many women the fibroids do not cause too many problems and less frequently require any treatment. At this time treatment options for women have improved to include not only surgical intervention but also medical therapies that can shrink the fibroid tumors. This is important for women who wish to retain their fertility.
Fibroids are the most frequently seen tumors in the female reproductive tract and are usually firm and compact made of smooth muscle and fibrous connective tissue. Current statistics estimate that between 20 to 50% of women in their reproductive years have fibroid tumors. Usually only one third of these tumors are large enough to be detected by a physician during a physical examination and when that small will cause little to no problems with fertility.
Women who do have symptoms of fibroids may have a range of mild to severe symptoms. The most common symptoms include heavy or prolonged menstrual periods, abnormal bleeding between menstrual periods, pelvic pain, increased urination, low back pain, pain during intercourse and a firm mass often palpate it near the middle of the pelvis which may be felt by both physician and patient.
Each individual can experience these symptoms differently and they can vary from month to month. In some cases heavy or prolonged periods can lead to iron deficiency anemia which will require treatments.
Some women complain of feeling a lower abdominal fullness and will house problems with infertility if the fibroids are large enough and three current spontaneous abortion or early onset of labor.
Uterine fibroids will rarely cause acute pain when it outgrows its blood supply. Deprived of oxygen and nutrients the tumor gradually begins to die. This tissue death produces byproducts which seep into the surrounding tissue causing fever and pain. Some tumors which are attached by a stalk may become twisted cutting off its own blood supply and causing pain.
Fibroids can be located in two different positions which will affect the symptoms a woman experiences. Fibroids that grow into the cavity of the uterus, sub mucosal fibroids, are thought to be responsible for prolonged and heavy menstrual bleeding. Subserosal fibroids, those that project to the outside of the uterus, can sometimes press on the bladder causing urinary symptoms. If the fibroid bulges from the back of the uterus they can also press on the wrecked him causing constipation or backache.
When submucosal fibroids grow to a large degree they can also cause bladder problems, rectal problems and back pain. With improved treatment options and technology women have choices today to help relieve the pain and improve their chances of fertility. It is important for women to seek the advice of their healthcare practitioner as soon as they believe they may have fibroids, especially if they wish to retain their fertility.
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