Fibroids are growths arising from the muscle wall of the uterus (womb). It is the most common tumor of the female genital tract. Fibroids may be seen in up to 70% of women by the age of menopause. Fibroids are seen clinically in up to 25% of reproductive age women and 25% of women have severe enough symptoms to need treatment for the same.
Fibroids are almost always benign (non-cancerous). They may vary in size from a small pea to up to a large football. They may be single or multiple. The location can vary depending on which direction of the uterus they start growing. If they remain in the muscle wall they are called intramural fibroids. If they develop towards the inner cavity of the uterus, they are called submucous fibroids. If they grow towards the outer side, they become subserosal fibroids. They may be asymptomatic and some women may be unaware that they have fibroids and in others, they may cause symptoms depending on their size and location like difficulty in getting pregnant, heavy menses, pain during menses, pelvic pressure and pain, etc.
What causes fibroids?
The main cause why fibroids happen is not known. But two main factors can play a role.
- Hormonal– Presence of high levels of estrogen and progesterone hormone can cause increased growth of fibroids. During pregnancy as the hormone levels are high, fibroids may grow rapidly. When medicine which acts against these hormones are given, the fibroids shrink in size. The fibroids also stop growing and shrink in size after menopause when the estrogen and progesterone production from ovaries stops.
- Genetic- It has been that if a family member has fibroids then a woman has more chance of developing them. So maybe genetic factors are also involved in causing fibroids.
There are some factors/conditions which make women more or less prone to develop fibroids.
Who are at increased risk of developing fibroids?
- Ethnic origin- African women have more risk of developing fibroids than white women.
- Increasing age- With increasing age up to menopause the chance of developing fibroids increases.
- Family history- If someone in your family like your mother or sister has fibroids; you are up to three times more likely to develop them.
- Obesity- Women who are overweight or obese have a two to three times higher than average risk of developing fibroids.
- Eating Habits- Its not clear if eating habits have an effect on the risk of developing fibroid. But some studies have found that eating a lot of red meat appeared to increase the risk of developing fibroids while eating a diet with lots of green vegetables and fruit had a protective effect.
Who has a lower risk of developing fibroids?
- Women who have given birth
- Smoking with low BMI
- After menopause
- Oral contraceptives decrease the risk of developing fibroids by 70%
- Injectable contraceptive DMPA
Depending on the size of fibroids, their number, location, the symptoms, age of the women, her desire for childbearing and wish to conserve her uterus, the fibroids may be treated by medicines or by surgery.
So if you suspect if you may have Fibroids or facing any other problem, consult Chaitanya IVF.