Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous (benign) tumors which appear in the uterus. These usually occur in women who are in their productive age, with larger incidences between 25- 35 years. Despite the fact that it does not prove to be fatal, this disease can affect the quality of life of a women.
Doctors are yet not sure of the exact cause of uterine fibroid. These occur when there is abnormal cell growth in the myometrium which is the middle layer of the uterus which is made of smooth muscles. The fibroid tissues are muscular and fibrous in nature but unlike the tissues of the uterus, they do not have a function. Some of the causes that could lead to uterine fibroid are:
- Hormonal therapy: Studies have related women who were on hormonal therapy and later reported uterine fibroid. In preparation of a fertilized ovum, progesterone and estrogen prepare the uterus by developing its lining. But this also promotes the growth of fibroids in certain cases. Presence of these two hormones is higher in fibroids than normal uterine muscles cells.
- Genetic causes: There are chances that fibroids are related to genes. There is further research being conducted on this.
- Complicated pregnancy: Women who have had complicated pregnancies have higher chances of suffering from fibroids.
- Hereditary: Women whose mothers or grandmothers had a history of cancer have high chances of developing cancer in future.
- Obesity: Studies have shown that women who are fat are at a higher risk than women who have normal weight.
- Race: Incidences of fibroid are higher in black women than any other race.
As stated above, mostly uterine fibroid is asymptomatic. But In 25 % of women the symptoms are present.
- Menstrual symptoms: As the fibroid is present in the uterus, one of the most affected factors are the menstrual cycle. Post the presence of a fibroid, the women experiences severe pelvic pain even when she is not menstruating. It is also accompanied by excessive menstrual bleeding accompanied by pain in the uterus which shoots till the female sexual organ. The cycle too tends to gets disturbed as the women have irregular menstrual bleeding with increased frequency of menstruation. The female sexual organ discharge is thick, white and at times profuse. There are also incidences of bleeding between the menstrual cycles.
- Urinary affections: Post fibroids, women experience fullness in the lower abdomen. As the fibroid presses down on the uterus, women experience an increased frequency of urination as the capacity of the bladder to store urine decreases.
- Reproductive symptoms: Uterine fibroid patients have painful coition and start avoiding it. They also have pain in the lower back which increases in intensity overtime. Uterine fibroid also makes women infertile as they are unable to conceive. Those who do conceive experience recurrent spontaneous abortions. In pregnant women it can cause premature labor.
Though these fibroids are non cancerous, their symptoms can affect the quality of life of women. Women who are in the reproductive stage of their life, doctors attempt to remove the fibroid through laparoscopy. In women who have already had children, doctors recommend hysterectomy. In hysterectomy doctors surgically remove the uterus. Certain dugs are also known to cure this disease for good.