Fibroids known as leiomyoma or myoma of the uterus, is a non cancerous growth on the uterus. 1 out of 3 African women, including African Americans within the reproductive age, have fibroids. It is a common thing among black women. But not all cases are symptomatic.
Fibroids are not associated with cancer and do not increase the risk of having uterine cancer. They may range in sizes, from the size of a pea fruit to the size of a grape.
Some are soft (the same feeling you get when you touch your nose) and some are hard ( as hard as your forehead). Fibroids can cause an enlargement of the uterus due to leiomyomas stretching the walls of the uterus to be as large as that of a pregnant woman.
Factors that maximize the risk of acquiring fibroids include:
- African American heritage.
- Family history of uterine fibroids.
- Having no children.
- Early age at first menstruation.
- Late menopause.
An Important Fact.
Women who started menstruating at a younger age than normal, a break in their menstrual cycles would be necessary to avoid developing fibroid.
If a child starts menstruating at the age of 10, by the time she is 35 years-old and she has not given birth, it means that she has been bleeding for 25 years without a break. The longer you are menstruating, the more time you have to stimulate the oestrogen hormone to produce fibroid.
“Women who have many babies may not have fibroid. This is because there is usually a break. There is usually a two-year break: one year of pregnancy and another for breastfeeding. So, the oestrogen hormone cannot stimulate their wombs to grow the fibroids,”
There are various kinds of fibroids and they are categorized according to their location.
It grows underneath the uterine lining, which is the inner layer of the uterus, known as the endometrium. The uterine lining regenerates after been shed during the menstrual cycle. The Submucosa fibroids is rare but is the major causes of dysmenorrhea (heavy menstrual flow).
Large Submucosa fibroids can also lead to infertility issues as it can delay sperm travel and ovum transport. During pregnancy, large Submucosa fibroids can take up all the space, leaving no room for the baby to stay. This can lead to a miscarriage. The good thing is that, it can be treated.
It grows outward, away from the uterine wall to the surrounding or outside of the uterus. It doesn’t lead to fertility issues except when they are too large and become pedunculated. They can exert pressure on the fallopian tubes, making it hard for the sperm and egg to fuse. They can push against the spine, thereby causing back pain.
This is the most common type. It grows in front (anterior Intramural fibroids)or behind ( posterior Intramural fibroids) the uterus ( or within the uterine muscle). Large sizes of Intramural fibroids can lead to fertility issues as they can obstruct the fallopian tube, making pregnancy difficult. It can also prevent the embryo from entering into the uterine cavity.
It can be treated using surgical procedures to increase the chances of pregnancy.
The Symptoms includes;
- Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods.
- Abnormal bleeding between menstrual periods.
- Pelvic pain (caused as the tumor presses on pelvic organs).
- Frequent urination.
- Low back pain.
- Pain during intercourse.
- A firm mass, often located near the middle of the pelvis, which can be felt by the physician.
In women whose fibroids are large or are causing significant symptoms, treatment may be necessary. Treatment will be determined by your health care provider(s) based on:
- Your overall health and medical history.
- Extent of the disease.
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies.
- Expectations for the course of the disease.
- Your opinion or preference.
Your desire for pregnancy.
In general, treatment for fibroids may include:
Hysterectomies involve the surgical removal of the entire uterus. Fibroids remain the number one reason for hysterectomies in the United States.
Conservative surgical therapy.
Conservative surgical therapy uses a procedure called a myomectomy. With this approach, physicians will remove the fibroids, but leave the uterus intact to enable a future pregnancy.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRH agonists).
This approach lowers levels of estrogen and triggers a “medical menopause.” Sometimes GnRH agonists are used to shrink the fibroid, making surgical treatment easier.
Certain drugs oppose estrogen (such as progestin and Danazol), and appear effective in treating fibroids. Anti-progestins, which block the action of progesterone, are also sometimes used.
Uterine artery embolization.
Also called uterine fibroid embolization, uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a newer minimally-invasive (without a large abdominal incision) technique. The arteries supplying blood to the fibroids are identified, then embolized (blocked off). The embolization cuts off the blood supply to the fibroids, thus shrinking them. Health care providers continue to evaluate the long-term implications of this procedure on fertility and regrowth of the fibroid tissue.
This type of drug is often effective for women who experience occasional pelvic pain or discomfort.
Single ladies with fibroids are advised to have children before the fibroids are removed.
Single ladies with symptomatic fibroids are advised to be engaged before fibroids can be removed. This is advised to prevent problems in the future relationship. This may be due to the African mentality and the fear of fertility issues.
Chances of recurrence after myomectomy reduces following childbirth and lactation
Let’s create awareness
Fibroid is a normal growth in African women. Symptomatic fibroids should be removed, based on the individual’s choice, whether married or engaged or none. Removal of symptomatic fibroids increases the chances of getting pregnant. There is absolutely nothing to fear.