What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow within the muscle tissue of the uterus. There are 4 primary types of fibroids: intramural, subserosal, submucosal, and pedunculated. It is common for a woman to have multiple types of fibroids.
Intramural fibroids are the most common type of fibroids, which usually grow within the uterine wall then expand from there. When these fibroids expand, they make the uterus feel enlarged and are often mistaken for pregnancy or weight gain. Other symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged menstrual cycles, pelvic pain, and frequent urination.
Subserosal fibroids usually grow on the outer uterine wall, which can continue to grow outward. The increased size will put pressure on surrounding organs causing pelvic pain and pressure. This type of fibroid does not usually cause excessive bleeding.
Submucosal fibroids develop under the lining of the uterine cavity, which can block the fallopian tubes when they increase in size and can cause complications with fertility. These are the least common type of fibroids. Some women will experience no symptoms while other women will experience heavy and prolonged menstruation.
Pedunculated fibroids grow on a stalk, which can grow into the uterus or outside of the uterine wall, resulting in pedunculated submucosal or subserosal fibroids. Some women will experience pain and pressure due to the fibroids twisted on the stalk.
Uterine Fibroid Symptoms
Symptoms depend on the size, location, and the number of fibroids. Symptoms can be so severe that daily activities are unbearable. However, many women who have fibroids experience very minor symptoms or none at all.
Millions of women have uterine fibroids but experts are not positive what causes them. Researchers believe estrogen, progesterone, growth hormones, and genetic changes are related to fibroid growth. Stress and unbalanced micronutrients (such as iron and vitamin D) may also contribute to fibroid growth. Most likely, many factors interacting together cause fibroids.
Uterine Fibroid Treatment Options
Uterine fibroids only need to be treated if they cause serious symptoms. Many women never experience symptoms; thus, do not know they have fibroids. If the fibroid tumors do cause symptoms, there are a couple of treatment options.
Surgical options to treat uterine fibroids include hysterectomy and myomectomy.
The disadvantages of both Myomectomy and Hysterectomy are due to the invasiveness of the procedures that requires a large incision, general anesthesia, and risks associated with surgery like blood loss, pain, infection, and longer recovery. The hospital stay usually lasts 1-3 days and recovery time is generally 2-6 weeks.