Ladies, do you ever have abdominal pain or does your belly stick out like you're pregnant, even when you're not? Do you ever have trouble holding your bladder or do you have constipation? Have menstrual cycles that are so heavy and so prolonged that you would never dream of wearing white or wearing a swimsuit to the beach? Are you experiencing a low libido? If you say yes to any of these questions, you may be suffering from fibroids. Today I'm giving you uterine fibroids symptoms, signs, causes and treatment.
What Are Fibroids?
Fibroids are benign, or noncancerous growths, in the uterus or the womb, so they grow out of the muscle. But again, they're non-cancerous. They can range in size from being microscopic to being as large as a grapefruit or even a melon.
Over 80% of women have fibroids, but most women have no symptoms. Fibroids are more common in black women, they're more severe in black women, and they occur at an earlier age in black women. Why is this? We don't know. But what we do know is that there are now many options for the treatment of fibroids.
You do not necessarily have to have a hysterectomy if you have fibroids, and you very likely will still be able to have children. You can conquer your fertility problems if you have fibroids. I'm going to talk about the symptoms of fibroids, the signs of fibroids, some of the complications of fibroids, and the treatment of fibroids.
What Causes Fibroids?
The exact cause of fibroids is still not known, but we do know that fibroids tend to grow more when there's a lot of estrogen or progesterone in the system. So women who no longer have their periods or women who go through menopause tend to have fewer fibroids.
What Are The Symptoms Of Uterine Fibroids?
One symptom is heavy menstrual bleeding. So, what is heavy menstrual bleeding? I find that a lot of ladies think that they're having normal periods because excessive and heavy periods are what's normal to them. But what a normal period should be is a medium flow of red blood with no blood clots and the period should only last for four to seven days.
So if you're having heavy periods where you're having to change your tampon or pad every hour or so, or if you're having blood clots, or if your periods are lasting for more than eight days, then you have heavy periods, and this is a symptom of fibroids.
Anemia and Fibroids
Another symptom is anemia, which can happen from having heavy periods. You may have fatigue or even very rapid heart beating caused by anemia.
Another symptom can be abdominal pain. Depending on the size or the position of the fibroid, you may outright have pain in your abdomen from the fibroids. You can also have a protruding abdomen or a belly that looks like you're pregnant even when you're not. And because of the position of the womb or the uterus where fibroids are, you can get other symptoms like urinary symptoms.
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If, for example, you have a fibroid that's pushing on your bladder, then you may find yourself having urinary incontinence when you can't hold your urine or when you're having urgency or frequently need to urinate. Also, the uterus or the womb, it sits right behind the bladder, but it's right in front of the intestines or the rectum.
If you have a large fibroid that's pushing on your intestines or your rectum, you could have constipation. And yes, this could also be a symptom of fibroids. Another common symptom of fibroids is having a low libido or low sex drive. One of the major issues that ladies have with fibroids is infertility, either trouble getting pregnant or trouble keeping the pregnancy.
How Do You Diagnose Uterine Fibroids?
Well, it's important to consult your physician and fibroids can be found on physical examination. But to confirm the diagnosis of fibroids, you must have a pelvic ultrasound.
There are many options for treatments for fibroids, but remember, if you have fibroids and you have no symptoms and no signs, then you do not need treatment. So if you have fibroids and you have no anemia, no pain, no fertility issues, the fibroids are benign. They won't hurt you, so no treatment is needed.
If, however, you are having complications, signs or symptoms from fibroids, then you will need treatment. You can either have medical treatment or surgical treatment.
Treatment For Fibroids
Some medical treatments include hormonal therapy such as birth control pills, intrauterine device, or IUDs. Some hormone rings, like a NuvaRing, are also used to treat uterine fibroids.
These things can help to shrink the size of the fibroid and also to decrease the heavy bleeding, which can help to prevent you from having the anemia. Another hormonal treatment is the Depo medroxyprogesterone shot. This can also shrink fibroids and decrease heavy cycles.
In order to treat the anemia, you may be given iron supplementation to take orally in vitamins. Or if your anemia is severe, if you have really low iron, your doctor may prescribe IV, or intravenous iron injections in order to build that up and to treat your anemia.
Some studies suggest that there are foods that can help with the treatment of fibroids or the prevention of fibroids, foods that are high in vitamin D and in omega-3, such as fatty fish or leafy green vegetables.
Fibroids Surgery Options
Now, if medical treatments don't work for fibroids, you then have the surgical treatments or procedures. One surgical procedure is a myomectomy, where the fibroid is actually removed.
Now, with myomectomies, there is a chance of the fibroid growing back, but the good thing about myomectomies is that ladies who are interested in getting pregnant and interested in having healthy pregnancies, you can have a myomectomy and still get pregnant and have a potentially healthy baby.
Types Of Myomectomies
There are different types of myomectomies. There is an open surgical myomectomy where the surgeon makes an incision, very similar to that of a c-section incision, and go in and remove the fibroid from the outside of the womb.
You can also have a laparoscopic myomectomy where really there are just a very few small incisions and the fibroids are removed in that manner. If the fibroids line the inside of the womb, or if the fibroids are inside of the uterus, then that will require a hysteroscopic myomectomy where the surgeon actually goes inside of the womb and they remove the fibroids that way.
Uterine Artery Embolization For Fibroids
Another surgical or procedural way to remove fibroids is through a uterine artery embolization. This occurs when the physician goes through a large vessel in the groin and they actually find the artery that supplies the fibroid.
They inject certain particles in the artery, and they literally cut off the blood supply to the fibroids, which makes the fibroid shrink. It can shrink over a matter of weeks or even a matter of months. Other procedures include a laparoscopic ultrasound-guided radiation frequency procedure to shrink the fibroids. Then, ultimately, there's the hysterectomy, where the entire uterus, the entire womb is removed.
This is my overview of uterine fibroids symptoms, signs, cause, and treatment. If you have suffered from fibroids or if you know someone else who's living with fibroids, and you have some things that have worked for you or you'd like to share your journey, please comment down below. I want to have a discussion. I want you to tell me your experience with uterine fibroids. As always, I want you to live your healthiest, happiest life.