Hysterectomy, a word many women dread hearing. This is a surgical procedure wherein the uterus is removed.
Hysterectomies are usually performed to remove uterine fibroids. This condition is also known by other names such as uterine leiomyoma, fibromyoma, fibroleiomyoma. Let us learn more details about uterine fibroids from the following paragraphs.
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroid is a benign tumor that occurs within the myometrium of the uterus. The tumor occurs due to the abnormal growth of the normal cells uterine muscles. The tumor or fibroid is usually round in shape. Based on their location in the uterus, fibroids are classified.
These locations include the following:
- Fibroids present in the outer lining of the uterus. (subserosal fibroids)
- Fibroids that are present inside the uterus. (Submucosal fibroids)
- Fibroids that are present in between the muscular wall of the uterus. (Intramural fibroids)
- Fibroids that are located within the cervix. (Cervical fibroids)
There may be a single, large fibroid or multiple fibroids present within the uterus.
What are the Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?
These fibroids occur in women during their childbearing age or in women over the age of 35 years.
However, many women are unaware about their condition as they do not suffer from any signs and symptoms due to the fibroid. However, not all suffer from asymptomatic uterine fibroids. Many complain of heavy, painful menstruation as well as other symptoms.
Some of the common symptoms include:
- Abnormal uterine bleeding (Menorrhagia)
- Heavy menstruation (Dysmenorrhea)
- Painful periods
- Prolonged periods
- Excessive passage of blood clots during menstrual bleeding
- Feeling of fullness in the stomach
- Painful intercourse (Dyspareunia)
- Urgency to urinate
What Causes Uterine Fibroids?
Fibroids are smooth muscle tissue cells present in the myometrium. These cells divided and reproduce new cells continuously leading to the formation of a thick, rubbery mass. These fibroids can be as small as a tiny seed or may become larger than the uterus itself. It keeps expanding so much so that it starts distorting the shape of the uterus and surrounding regions.
The exact cause is still unknown. However, doctors think genetics, hormones as well as other body chemicals lead to formation of fibroids.
How is Uterine Fibroid Diagnosed?
Uterine fibroids are generally detected during a general pelvic examination. Those suffering from above symptoms are advised an ultrasound to confirm presence of fibroids. At times laparoscopy or biopsy may be carried out.
How are Uterine Fibroids Treated?
Fibroid treatment depends on various factors such as age, overall health, symptoms, type of fibroid as well as if the patient wishes to be pregnant in the future. Treatment includes:
Medications helps in controlling the symptoms and help in shrinking of the tumor. These medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), birth control pills, progestin shot, iron supplements, progestin-releasing intrauterine device (IUD), gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists etc.
The surgical removal of the uterus is called a hysterectomy. It is very commonly performed as it is one of the most sure shot ways to completely get rid of fibroids. Hysterectomy is usually performed in women with very heavy bleeding, large fibroids, those who have passed their menopause or those who have given birth to children and do not want more children. A cut is placed in the abdomen and the uterus is removed. If the fibroid is small in size, then the doctor may reach the uterus through the vagina, instead of cutting the abdomen. In some cases, laparoscope surgery can be used to remove the fibroid.
In case a woman is young or wishes to have more children in the future there are other alternatives to hysterectomy. These alternative treatments used are as follows:
Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Uterine fibroid embolization is a therapeutical technique applied on people suffering from uterine fibroids. The arteries supplying blood to the fibroids are blocked in an attempt to cut off blood supply to the fibroids. As a result of which the tumours shrink. This procedure is also known as Uterine Artery Embolization and is performed only by Interventional Radiologists
This is a simple procedure that does not require overnight hospitalization. The gynecologist uses a scope that is passed through the cervix into the uterine cavity. This scope burns and scrapes the uterine lining and even cuts through the fibroid tumors. However, not all the fibroids are removed with the help of this procedure. However, this treatment can also lead to infertility and therefore one should speak to their gynecologist for further information.
In order to preserve the childbearing capacity of the uterus, this treatment is used. The patient is given general anesthesia and the fibroid is removed. However, this method involves greater loss of blood as well as longer recovery time. Myomectomy
Focused Ultrasound Therapy:
High-intensity ultrasound beams focused with the help of magnetic resonance is used to destroy the fibroid. As only a small area is destroyed at a time, one may require to visit the gynecologist at leads 50 times to completely destroy the fibroid.
Electric current is passed through a needle inserted into the fibroid to burn and destroy it.
A needle is used to pass freezing temperatures into the fibroid to destroy the tumor.
The prognosis of uterine fibroids is good in cases where the patient follows healthcare advise. There is only 1 in 1000 cases that may turn cancerous. Thus, women of child bearing age or middle age should get themselves examined regularly by a gynecologist. Proper treatment for uterine fibroids will help you improve your quality of life.
Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: January 26, 2015