Fibroids can be described as noncancerous growths, which normally in or around your uterus (womb). These growths comprise of fibrous tissue and muscle, and their size will typically vary from one to the other. Fibroids are at times called uterine myomas.
In some cases, they do not show symptoms, which implies that many women do not realize that they have fibroids until much later. In cases where symptoms are present, they will include:
- Lower back pain
- Painful or heavy periods
- Abdominal pain
The uterine myomas are very common, with one in every three women developing them at one stage in their life, according to the CDC. Fibroids are common in women who are between thirty and fifty years of age and are thought to be more prevalent in African-Caribbean women. Additionally, it is also thought that they tend to occur mostly in women who are obese or overweight.
In this fibroids article, we will look at what are fibroids, what causes them, their symptoms, e.g., pain, weight gain, and bleeding, the removal cost, risks associated with removal, e.g., bleeding, and diet natural treatments that can be used to manage the fibroids.
What are fibroids?
Can you have fibroids in breasts? In the female reproductive system, fibroids are the most commonly seen tumors. Medical experts estimate that between twenty and fifty percent of all women in their childbearing years may have undiagnosed fibroids.
In close to ninety-nine percent of all fibroid cases, a majority of them tend to be benign. They are tumors that are not associated with the risk of cancer, and as such, they do not increase your chances of developing uterine cancer.
Their sizes, however, may vary. There are those that are the size of a pea, while others can be as big as a small grapefruit or size of a normal softball.
Symptoms of fibroids
Around one in every three women will experience some symptoms. They include:
- Pain during coitus
- Anemia because of the heavy periods
- Heavy, and very painful periods
- Leg pain or a backache
- Frequent urination
- Discomfort in the lower abdominal region, more so, when the fibroids are very large
Additional symptoms could include:
- Repeated miscarriages
- Labor-related problems
- Fertility problems
- Problems getting pregnant
If your fibroids are too large, you may gain some weight, and your lower abdominal region is likely to be swollen as well.
Types of fibroids
Different kinds of fibroids are likely to start developing in different locations in your uterus. They include:
1. Intramural fibroids
These are the most common kinds of fibroids that you can get. They appear within the uterine muscular wall. In some cases, they could grow very large and start stretching your uterus.
2. Subserosal fibroids
They are a type of fibroids, which form on the outer part of your uterus, known as the serosa. With time, they could start growing, which will make your womb to appear very big in one area.
3. Pedunculated fibroids
Once a subserosal tumor starts developing a stem, they are known as pedunculated fibroids. A stem is a thin base supporting the tumor in question.
4. Submucosal fibroids
They are a kind of fibroids that are known to develop along the middle muscle layer of the womb. Compared to the other types, submucosal fibroids are not very common.
But, when they start developing, they are likely to cause heavy period bleeding, and the woman may also have some trouble conceiving.
Do fibroids cause pain?
What does fibroid pain feel like? Developing fibroids in many cases translates to additional pain, as well as a heavy menstrual flow. When you have fibroids, you are likely to experience the following types of pain:
- Chronic pelvic pain or pressure—the tumors have been to cause a lingering feeling of discomfort or pain. When your nerves are compressed, it could exacerbate your pain, which will cause you to experience additional pain in your lower back, as well as the sides.
- Pain during sexual intercourse—even though pain when engaging in intimacy is not limited to these tumors only, they have been known to cause pain.
- Abdominal pain—tumors that are located in the upper region of your uterus may at times start extending into your abdomen, which will then cause pressure and pain. Additionally, large fibroids may also distend to your abdomen, mimicking an early pregnancy.
- Painful bowel movements—if these tumors start compressing your rectum, you are likely to start experiencing pain and constipation when making your bowel movements. Additionally, the constant pressure on the rectum can make the woman feel bloated at all times.
How to free yourself from the pain
Your treatment choice for the fibroids is dependent on the level of pain, and the amount of bleeding that you are experiencing.
- Pain relief—NSAIDs, g., ibuprofen can come in handy in such a case. The pain medication will reduce the amount of pain that you are experiencing, while at the same time countering production of prostaglandins. It may also be essential for you to take iron supplements as a way of correcting or preventing the development of anemia.
- Hormone therapy—even though it is not yet clear on the exact cause of these fibroids, they are, in many cases affected by changing hormone levels, especially the estrogen hormone.
When your body has too much estrogen, when you are pregnant, there is an increased risk of developing fibroids. When the levels reduce, the tumors start to shrink.
- Additional therapies—heat application in the abdominal region has been seen to help some women cope with the pain associated with the tumors.
Uterine fibroids and cancer
Can uterine fibroids turn into cancer? As mentioned earlier, uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in your uterus. The tumors are very common, and will in many cases not cause any symptoms. But, there are instances where uterine tumors have been seen to cause problems e.g.
- Frequent urination
- Prolonged or heavy menstrual bleeding
- Pelvic pain or pressure
When the above symptoms are deemed to be severe enough, it becomes necessary to have the fibroids treated. One treatment option has been to remove your uterus. It can be done by making a large incision in your lower abdominal region.
Additionally, the uterus can also be removed through a procedure known as a laparoscopy. The procedure only requires a few small incisions to be made.
The advantage of the laparoscopy procedure is that you will have a shorter recovery period, which is what many patients are looking for. But, there are situations where it is not possible to remove the uterus by making small incisions, as it means that the uterus will first need to be broken down into tiny pieces.
There are rare cases where your doctor may come to discover that you not only have fibroids but that you have also developed uterine sarcoma.
It is a type of cancer. Currently, no reliable method exists to assist in predicting whether you have uterine sarcoma as well as the fibroids.
In the United States, the FDA ran studies on the use of power morcellation, in a bid to determine the number of times that such problems are likely to take place.
From their studies, they were able to establish that one out of every three hundred women who have been treated for fibroids by having the uterus removed was later discovered to have uterine sarcoma as well.
As such, the authority recommends that:
- Hold consultative sessions with your physician to look at all the treatment options that are available to assist you to deal with this condition. For each option, look at the risks as well as the benefits.
- In case your doctor recommends a myomectomy or a hysterectomy to treat the condition, inquire on whether they will be using power morcellation. You should also seek to understand why this particular method is recommended over all the others, including the non-surgical options.
- In case you have undergone any of these two procedures to treat your fibroids, it means that you have already been tested for cancer. Therefore, if the tests proved to be normal, with no symptoms being reported, continue with your normal visits to the doctor’s office.
But, if you establish that some symptoms have started to manifest, then it will be best for you to inform your physician right away.
Fibroids during pregnancy
Fibroids will in many cases develop before you become pregnant. However, many women do not realize that they have the fibroids until they go for an ultrasound.
In some cases, the tumor is discovered when a pelvic examination is being performed. If you realize in advance that you have developed fibroids, prior to becoming pregnant, inquire from the doctor on whether their position or size will cause you any problems.
You will also be advised on the symptoms that you should be on the lookout for during pregnancy.
Often, a woman who has one or more of these tumors will not experience any complications during pregnancy as a result of the fibroids.
But, ten to thirty percent of pregnant women, and who have fibroids will typically end up getting some complications, with the most common complication being abdominal pain.
The pain may in some instances be accompanied by slight vaginal bleeding. The good news, however, is that your baby will not be affected in any way, unless your bleeding increases and becomes substantial.
In the event that you do end up experiencing symptoms associated with the benign tumors, your baby will still not be affected. You should, however, note that your risks of a miscarriage and premature delivery will go up when you start developing the fibroids. The tumors can cause your baby to end up in an abnormal position prior to your delivery.
Additionally, they may also stall your labor, and in situations where they are close to your cervical opening, they will block the passageway where the baby is expected to pass.
These problems are rare, and when present, they increase your chances of undergoing a cesarean delivery, rather than the natural delivery method.
Treating fibroids during pregnancy
When you experience painful fibroids during your pregnancy, you can treat them using ice packs, bed rest, and medication when nothing else seems to work. The symptoms will disappear within a few days on their own, allowing you to resume your daily routines.
There are instances where fibroids can grow very large when you are pregnant. The reason for this is because of an increase in the pregnancy hormones.
For reasons not yet understood by medical professionals, the fibroids may also become smaller in the course of your pregnancy. Therefore, the treating physician is likely to recommend regular ultrasounds, which are meant to establish whether the fibroid is growing and whether it will likely cause you complications down the line.
Uterine fibroids after menopause
Contrary to popular belief, menopause does in no way assist in curing uterine fibroids. The fibroids, which are sometimes called leiomyoma, are small tumors that begin growing inside your uterine walls.
They are said to be nonmalignant, in that they are not cancerous. However, they have been known to cause pain as well as numerous other uncomfortable symptoms.
In women, the fibroids happen to be the most common type of nonmalignant tumors in women who are of childbearing age. But, there is also a chance that you could continue experiencing the tumors during and after your menopausal stage. Additionally, they could also start emerging during this particular phase.
What causes fibroids during the menopause stage?
Fibroids and hormones
Progesterone and estrogen hormones, which are present in all women may increase your chances of getting fibroids. During menopause, the hormones will begin to decline, which means that your risk of developing new fibroids will also start to decline.
In addition, a drop in your hormone levels could also assist in decreasing the size of the preexisting tumors. But, there are certain risk factors that could increase your chances of developing the tumors after you have started your menopause phase. Common risks include:
- Extreme or long-term stress
- No pre-existing pregnancy history
- Low levels of vitamin D in your body
- An existing family history of fibroids
- Excess weight gain or obesity
African-American women and post-menopausal women who are above forty years are at a higher chance of developing fibroids, according to Mayo Clinic.
These tumors have been known to have a different effect on premenopausal and postmenopausal women. In some instances, the women do not develop any symptoms, making it hard for them to know whether they have the tumors or not.
The only time such women get to learn of the tumors is after going for their annual pelvic exams, where the problem is noted.
If you are a woman in your postmenopausal phase, you are likely to experience the following symptoms, which are linked to uterine fibroids.
- Heavy bleeding
- Frequent spotting
- Anemia from losing too much blood
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Menstrual-like cramping
- Urine leakage
- Fullness in your lower body
- Frequent urination
- Abdominal swelling
- Pain in your lower back area
Most of the symptoms mentioned above are caused by a cluster of fibroids or a single fibroid pushing against the uterine wall. For instance, when your fibroids apply pressure on the bladder, you will feel experience the urge to urinate on a frequent basis.
How to treat fibroids after menopause?
The tumors can be quite difficult to treat. At the moment, birth control pills are the preferred kind of treatment. But, your physician could also recommend a surgery that is known as a myomectomy. It is the surgical removal of your uterus and is in some cases considered as the best type of treatment.
1. Birth control pills
Consumption of oral contraceptives is one of the numerous ways that can be used in managing these tumors. When prescribing the oral contraceptives, your doctor will be aiming to reduce the number of the tumors already present in your uterus.
The hormones present in the pills can also assist in preventing the development of tumors in future.
You should note that not all types of oral contraceptives will work perfectly in this particular situation. Progestin only birth control pills could be your best bet when you are considering taking pills to deal with this problem. Medical experts say that they make hormone replacement therapy to be more effective.
In certain instances, a myomectomy is performed first, before your doctor can consider performing a hysterectomy. It is a surgical procedure that mainly targets the removal of fibroids.
During the surgical procedure, an incision will be made in your lower abdominal region. The site and size of this incision are quite similar to the incisions made when having a cesarean delivery. It should anywhere between three and six weeks for you to recover fully.
The physician could also choose to perform this procedure laparoscopically. In this procedure, a smaller incision will be made in the same area.
Even though its recovery time is much shorter than in the case of a myomectomy, not all women can undergo it. The only time it is recommended is when your fibroids are much smaller.
It is recommended when a myomectomy has failed to take care of the problem. Additionally, it can be recommended when you have recurring tumors, which are quite large.
The hysterectomy will involve removing your uterus completely and is mainly recommended for women in their postmenopausal phase, or those slowly approaching menopause.
Generally, there are three kinds of hysterectomies:
- Total—here, your entire uterus will be removed. Your cervix will also not be left behind. There are instances where the doctor may also make a recommendation to remove the ovaries and the fallopian tubes as well. The option is deemed to be ideal when a woman has widespread, large tumors.
- Subtotal/ Partial—for this particular surgery, only the upper uterus gets removed. It is recommended after establishing that the tumors have become a recurring problem in this area of your womb. It is something that can be confirmed by performing an imaging test.
- Radical—it is considered to be the most important kind of hysterectomy, and it will only be performed when your tumors have been seen to be extreme. At times, it is recommended for certain types of cancer. During this operation, the doctor will get rid of your cervix, uterus, and upper vagina.
Hysterectomies are the only way for you to eliminate the tumors completely. Close to two hundred thousand women in the United States undergo this particular surgical procedure to get rid of the fibroids, according to the CDC.
You and your physician have to sit down and determine whether this option will be the best one for you, after having gone through your history.
Generally speaking, the uterine tumors are quite common in women who are in their premenopausal stage. But, there is always a likelihood that you could develop them when you are in the menopause phase.
It is critical to discuss with your physician on how you can go about managing the symptoms associated with fibroids, as well as establish whether a surgical option is necessary.
For tumors that do not exhibit any symptoms, it may not be necessary for you to have them treated.
Fibroids removal surgery
The myomectomy is the surgical procedure undertaken to remove the fibroids from your uterine walls. It is possible to treat the tumors using medication, as mentioned earlier.
Surgery is only performed as a last resort. Even though a hysterectomy can be performed to get rid of the tumors, the myomectomy is the most preferred surgical procedure.
The procedure is generally recommended for:
- A woman who is trying to conceive
- A patient who is experiencing symptoms associated with the uterine tumors
The recovery time for a myomectomy will differ from person to person, but you can generally expect to spend between two and three days in the hospital. In addition, you should note that the surgical procedure can cause pelvic and lower back pain.
When it comes to pricing matters, the prices will vary depending on where you are getting the operation. In the UAE for instance, it will only cost you $2048, while the same procedure in Israel will set you back $45,750. In the United States, you can expect to pay around $16,465, depending on your insurance company and yearly deductions.
During the surgical procedure to remove the tumors, there are a number of complications or risk factors that could arise. They include:
- Inability to restore your original uterine structure
- Formation of blood clots
- Anesthetic-related complications
- You may need to undergo more procedures in future
Fibroids bleeding when burst, shrink
Fibroids that are located in your uterine cavity, also known as submucosal fibroids may interfere with your normal menstrual period. When this happens, you will be likely to experience heavy bleeding between periods or with your periods. Additionally, the periods could also end up being unusually very long.
When this occurs to you, it will mean that you need to seek immediate medical treatment. Your medical doctor will first perform an ultrasound to confirm that the bleeding is as a result of the tumors. From here, they will recommend ideal medical treatments, based on the severity of your condition.
Natural treatment for uterine fibroids
Avoiding high blood pressure will greatly reduce your chances of developing uterine tumors, according to research conducted by Harvard School of Public Health.
Their studies have shown that there exists a very strong correlation between your risks of developing the nonmalignant tumors and blood pressure.
Although many risk factors may be out of your control, there are others that are within your grasp. The natural treatment for the uterine tumors include:
1. Avoid foods that can make them worse
This means that you will need to stay away from:
- High fat and processed meats—when it comes to these tumors, high fat, processed meats are a very bad choice for a woman. Foods that are high in unhealthy fats, g., non-organic meats will in many cases come with chemical additives.
- Conventional dairy—the non-organic dairy happens to be very high on steroids. The steroids can alter your hormone levels, which would then encourage growth and development of these tumors.
- Alcohol—taking too much alcohol will increase inflammation in all areas of your body, and will in the process reduce your immune functions, while at the same time encouraging a hormonal imbalance.
By eliminating or reducing your alcohol intake levels, you will be able to get the hormones back on track within no time. Hopefully, the tumors will start to shrink.
2. Turn to essential oils
Clary sage and thyme are some of the best essential oils that should be considered when trying to treat tumors. The essential oils are recommended because they have an ability to balance the hormones in your body naturally.
For instance, clary sage essential oil has been seen by researchers to have an anti-depressant effect on your mood levels, while at the same time lowering the cortisol levels.
All you have to do when using the essential oils is to place two drops of your preferred oil in the abdominal region. Ensure you do so two times each day.
3. Avoid being exposed to environmental toxins
To assist in improving your overall hormonal health, you should stay away from the following: food dyes, pesticides, harmful cleaners, herbicides, food preservatives, synthetic fertilizers, and bleach. Additionally, it will be important for you to opt for unbleached feminine body care products and natural, organic makeup.
Exercising on a frequent basis will assist in preventing the formation of fibroids. According to a study by Harvard School of Medicine, the more you exercise, the less likely you will be to get the uterine tumors.
5. Take herbal tea
Regular consumption of herbal teas is recommended as it assists in soothing the symptoms associated with the non-malignant tumors. The herbal tea will reduce inflammation, and at the same time help in rebalancing your hormones.
Consider taking teas that contain chaste berry, yellow dock, dandelion root, and red raspberry, as they have been seen to have systemic advantages for your reproductive system and uterus.
Fibroids diet treatment
Changing your diet can greatly reduce the complications that are associated with tumors. Although foods are not known to assist in shrinking the tumors, consuming certain foods included in a healthy and well-balanced diet may help minimize your symptoms.
1. Fruits and vegetables
These two have been known to provide rich amounts of fiber and nutrients, which is vital in fighting weight gain, as well as promoting your appetite. This is vital as gaining extra weight may lead to the continued development of the non-malignant tumors.
2. Beans and lentils
Legumes, e.g., lentils and beans are deemed to be rich sources of fiber, which make them an ideal choice for someone who is dealing with weight-related issues. Additionally, they also have a mild impact on the blood sugar levels in your body.
Given that they are plant-based proteins, they provide you with nutritious alternatives to fatty meats, whose consumption will lead to inflammation.
You can consider including vegetarian chili, veggie burritos, and black beans in your diet as they are all healthy legumes.
3. Unprocessed grains
Consumption of white foods, e.g., starchy white bread will increase insulin production levels in the body, and will ultimately determine how the estrogen will be metabolized.
You should, therefore do away with the refined starches, and ensure you stick to grains that are not processed, as a way of improving your uterine health. Whole grains also happen to be very rich in antioxidants, protein, and fiber, as compared to their processed counterparts.
As such, you should consider nutritious alternatives like barley, oats, quinoa, wild rice, and brown rice.
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