Uterine Fibroids – Causes and Symptoms

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Uterine fibroid is an extremely common condition in women. Research says that 70% of the women across the world are likely to get fibroids at some point in their life.

Uterine fibroids refer to uterine outgrowths that grow in and around the uterus (womb) of a woman. They are tumors but of the non-cancerous type. A uterine fibroid can either grow in clusters or as a single tumor.

Although the main cause of women developing uterine fibroids is yet to be identified, it is more or less said to be a genetic condition. However, the condition is more common in women of African descent when compared to women of other races.

The growth of fibroid is related to the stimulation of estrogen, a hormone that is produced naturally in the body. Fibroids can start showing up at an early age of 20. Nevertheless, they start shrinking when women enter the menopausal stage, when their bodies stop producing estrogen in large amounts. When tiny, fibroids may not cause much of problems.

Causes of Uterine Fibroids

The main factors associated with the development of uterine fibroids include:

  • Excessive weight gain or obesity
  • Nulliparity or a condition where a woman has never given birth to a child
  • Attaining puberty before the age of 10
  • African American heritage

Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids, whether tiny or large, may produce absolutely no symptoms. In most cases they are identified accidently during regular pelvic examinations. However, if you face any of the following problems it is better to get a scan done to rule out the presence of fibroids:

  • Excessive menstrual bleeding or menorrhagia, at times with blood clots
  • Pressure on bladder that might lead to frequent urination or a sense of urgency to urinate
  • Pressure on rectum causing constipation
  • Lower abdominal pain, pelvic pressure, or a feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen
  • Change in abdominal contour or an increase in size around the waist
  • Infertility or an inability to become pregnant even after trying for 1 year to get pregnant

Apart from these, if your healthcare practitioner discovers a pelvic mass during a physical examination, it could most probably be a uterine fibroid.

When to rush to the doctor?

Uterine fibroid is not usually a serious condition that requires medical intervention. Nevertheless, if you are experiencing any of the below symptoms it is better to consult your doctor without any delays:

  • Excessive menstrual bleeding where you are soaking through more than 3 pads in an hour
  • Severe or a prolonged pain in the abdomen or pelvic region
  • Any lightheadedness, dizziness, chest pain or shortness of breath associated with vaginal bleeding
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy or a possible pregnancy

Diagnosis of Uterine Fibroids

A pelvic exam is generally a must to identify uterine fibroids. However, doctors can detect the presence of fibroids if they feel an irregularly shaped uterus during a physical examination. Your doctor might order any of the following tests to confirm the presence of fibroids in your uterus:

  • An abdominal ultrasound, a pelvic ultrasound, or a transvaginal ultrasound
  • An Endometrial Biopsy
  • A Hysteroscopy
  • A Hysterosalpingography
  • Laparoscopy

You can do your research on complications of uterine fibroids before taking a decision on whether or not to go for treatment for uterine fibroids. If you don’t have much of symptoms, it is quite unlikely that you may even need treatment.