WOMEN’S HEALTH WEDNESDAY
Uterine Fibroids. What the heck are those, right?
They are benign tumors that grow in and around the uterine walls. In extremely rare cases (less than .1%) they lead to cancer. They come in all sizes (from the size of a pea to the size of an orange) and grow in all areas of the uterus - so their symptoms and treatments are dependent on size/location.
Smaller fibroids are usually asymptomatic. They may never have to be treated. In other cases, the fibroid may place pressure on the bladder/bowel causing urinary retention/frequency or painful defecation and constipation. They may cause other symptoms such as back pain or painful/heavy menstruation. Rarely, they can interfere with ovulation which can lead to infertility.
Fibroids are fairly common, especially in the African-American population and women in their later reproductive years. There is a correlation between patients with fibroids and patients with hypertension. They can be diagnosed by use of ultrasound or MRI and may even be palpated during a gynecological exam. Like with reproductive cancers, there’s no surefire prevention.
As stated before, treatment varies on severity. Tumor-shrinking medications may be prescribed. One method of treatment is cutting off the blood circulation to the fibroids. Radiation can be used. Unfortunately, hysterectomies are typically the go-to treatment and may even be suggested for patients with asymptomatic fibroids - although I hope that in coming years this trend dies down and alternative, less invasive treatments take over.