Uterine fibroids are benign cysts that develop on the uterine wall of a woman. They are normally seen in women of child bearing age and women who are above the age of 30. The causes of fibroids remain unknown though gynaecologists attribute some of the causes to soaring oestrogen levels and instances of late motherhood.
Fibroids have become increasingly common occurring in about 30-40 percent of women. Fibroids can be one or many. Although they are benign and don’t signify progressive metastasis, they can cause acute discomfort to the woman concerned. Most of them require medical and surgical intervention.
Fibroids can grow for years without being detected and manifesting themselves. With time they tend to increase in their severity and can be diagnosed with the following symptoms.
Fibroids can intensify vaginal bleeding. The bleeding becomes profuse ad prolonged especially during the woman’s period. The blood is dark, lumpy and clotted. Women complain of using tampons and pads at an hourly interval due to the heavy flow. Since the bleeding is copious, women may often become severely anaemic. Fatigue and exhaustion during periods is common.
Fibroids are often accompanied by severe pain in the uterus. Cramps can be debilitating and women rarely get relief from pain medication. The pain is localized and intense. The pain tends to last beyond the woman’s period.
Abdominal Pressure And Discomfort
Women suffering from large fibroids can feel an intense pressure in their abdomens, rectum and bladders. The discomfort becomes pronounced when the woman is walking, bending or lifting.
Women suffering from fibroids often suffer from incontinence due to the pressure exerted by the growing fibroid on the bladder. There is a constant need to pee. Women find themselves having to get up frequently at night in order to relieve themselves.
Pain During Intercourse
One of the most obvious symptoms of fibroids is acute pain during sexual intercourse. The pain is more apparent during certain periods in the woman’s cycle. The pain can be restricted to just the vagina or can radiate up till the uterus.
Large fibroids can press against the sensitive nerves of the back muscles and can cause a sharp, shooting pain. This is very rare and occurs in just about 5% of women suffering from fibroids.
Some fibroids exert undue pressure on the rectum making it very difficult for a woman to pass a bowel movement. Defecating can be strained and painful. This may also result in painful haemorrhoids requiring medical treatment.
Another symptom of fibroids is a large, swollen uterus resembling a grape fruit. The uterus becomes tender and painful to touch. This can easily be detected on an ultrasound.
Treatment For Fibroids
Fibroids are not malignant and can be removed through laparoscopic procedures and D&C. Women with excessively large fibroids that do not respond well to conventional approaches may have to undergo a hysterectomy in which the entire uterus is removed. More often than not, smaller fibroids degenerate during menopause. It is only the severity of symptoms experienced by the woman that require medical intervention.