Symptoms of uterine fibroids are generally related to abnormal period problems most commonly being heavy bleeding, with clots, more frequent periods, pain, increased frequency of passing urine, constipation, blood stained discharge, lump in tummy and heaviness in lower abdomen are some of the symptoms. Swelling of feet may be seen in very large tumours. Though rarely, they may be the cause of infertility.
Uterine Fibroids are the most common pelvic tumour in women. Approximately 30 million Indian women aged between 18 to 55 years are at risk for developing uterine fibroids. It is emerging as a major health problem among women in our country. As many as 1 in every 5 women may have fibroids during their child bearing age. Fibroids usually affect women over age 30. They are rare in women under 20. The cause of uterine fibroid tumours is unknown. However, fibroid growth seems to depend on the hormone oestrogen. As long as women with fibroids is menstruating, a fibroid will continue to grow, albeit slowly.
Fibroids can be so tiny that you need a microscope to see them. However, they can grow very large. They may fill the entire uterus, and may weigh several pounds. Although it is possible for just one fibroid to develop, usually there is more than one. Fibroids are often described by their location in the muscle of wall of uterus, in just under the uterine lining and under the outside covering of uterus or inside of the activity.
Treatment options for uterine fibroids
Treatment depends on various factors including age, general health, severity of symptoms, type of fibroids, whether patient is pregnant and if they want children in future. Treatment for the symptom of fibroids may include birth control pills to help control heavy periods, intra-uterine devices that release the hormone progestin to help reduce heavy bleeding and pain. Iron supplement to prevent or treat anaemia due to heavy periods, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen for cramps and pain.
Hormonal therapy may be used to help shrink the fibroids. This therapy is used only for a short period, either before surgery to remove a fibroid or when a woman is expected to reach menopause soon. Side effects include hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Complications of uterine fibroids
Fibroids may cause following complications if not treated early:
- Most women are able to carry their babies to term, but some end up delivering prematurely because there is not enough room in the uterus. Some pregnant women with fibroids may need a cesarean section because fibroids can occasionally block the birth canal or cause the baby to be positioned wrong. Some pregnant women with fibroids have heavy bleeding immediately after giving birth. Severe pain or excessively heavy bleeding that may require emergency surgery.
- Most patients with prolonged uterine fibroid symptoms face anaemia due to heavy bleeding.
- Urinary tract infections, if pressure from the fibroid prevents the bladder from fully emptying.
- Cancerous changes called leiomyosarcoma.
Latest technique to treat uterine fibroid
A new category of minimally invasive myomectomy combines the best of open and laparoscopic surgery. With the assistance of this technique surgeons can remove uterine fibroids through small incision with unmatched precision and control.
The potential benefits of myomectomy as compared to traditional open abdominal surgery are: opportunity for future pregnancy, significantly less pain, less blood loss, fewer complications, shorter hospital stay and a quick return to normal daily life.