Uterine fibroids, also known as fibroid tumors, myomas, fibromas, or leimyomas, are growths that usually occur in the uterus, which are usually non-cancerous or benign. The following passages provide comprehensive information on this medical condition.
Myomas are rubbery nodules, which start as irregular cells in the muscle layers of the uterus. Afterwards, they gradually grow into tumor-like lumps, which consist of smooth muscle and connective tissue. These tumors can be the size of a pea or as big as a basketball, and it can occur singly or in many numbers. The rate of growth is not predictable, sometimes remaining comparatively stable, and at other times increasing rapidly in size. Less than 0.1 percent of the tumors become cancerous.
These tumors usually do not reduce in size or disappear on their own until after menopause. After the onset of menopause, new tumors usually do not develop, and the ones that are already present generally reduce in size. About 20 – 40 percent of women, over the age of 35, are affected by fibroids. Sometimes, myomas can also form in other organs as well, especially those that have smooth muscle cells.
Types of Fibromas
There are three main types known:
Submucous Fibroids: These grow just under the endometrium or the lining of the uterus usually causing menstrual problems, which include pain as they develop and move about the pelvic region.
Intramural Fibroids: This is a round-shaped fibroid which usually grows in the wall of the uterus. As it grows, it results in the enlargement of the uterus.
Subserosal Fibroids: This occurs on the outer region of the uterine wall and generally has no symptoms. It is only when they grow and interfere with other organs, that they create problems.
In case the fibroid tumor has a pedicle or stalk, which is attached to the uterus wall, it is known as a pedunculated fibroid tumor. The pedicle allows the tumor to move about in the uterus, abdominal cavity, or even into the vagina.
It is not yet known what exactly causes uterine fibroids; however, some scientists state that the following reasons may be the contributory factors:
- It could be due to hereditary factors.
- It could be due to ethnicity. Women of Jewish descent and African-American women are three times more susceptible to developing fibroids when compared to Caucasian women.
- It could be due to estrogen levels. Uterine tumors have a tendency of increasing in size when birth control pills are used, when the levels of estrogen are high, or during pregnancy and reducing in size after menopause, when the levels of estrogen are low.
- Occurs in women who have endometriosis. This is a condition in which pieces of the endometrium or mucous membrane that lines the uterus are found in the other areas of the pelvic cavity.
Most of the women who have fibroid tumors, do not show any symptoms at all. However, when symptoms do occur, they usually include:
- Menstruation that lasts for a longer duration than normal.
- A heavier flow during menstruation is experienced.
- Menstrual cramping also increases, and one experiences unpredictable or irregular bleeding.
- A feeling of fullness in the abdomen, which is usually accompanied by gas.
- Pressure in the lower region of the abdomen, usually described as a heavy or achy feeling.
- There is an increase in the frequency of urination, backache, constipation, infertility, and miscarriage.
Usually, fibromas do not require any treatment whatsoever. Most physicians stress upon getting them monitored periodically if they are not causing pain, bleeding, or discomfort. However, surgical removal may be advised if the fibroids display the following symptoms:
- If they cause bleeding that is uncontrollable or is abnormally heavy.
- If they grow too large and cause discomfort.
- If they grow too rapidly and occur after the onset of menopause.
- If it hinders the chances of becoming pregnant.
- If they cause the compression of the urinary tract.
Leimyomas can be surgically removed by two procedures: myomectomy, which involves removing the fibroid from the uterus and hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the uterus itself.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.