What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign (not cancer) growths that develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. They also are called leiomyomas or myomas. The size, shape and location of fibroids can vary greatly. They may be present inside the uterus, on its outer surface or within its wall, or attached to it by a stem-like structure. A woman may have only one fibroid or many of varying sizes. A fibroid may remain very small for a long time and suddenly grow rapidly, or grow slowly over a number of years.
What are symptoms of fibroids?
Fibroids may have the following symptoms.
• Changes in menstuation
-- Longer, more frequent or heavy menstrual periods
-- Menstrual pain (cramps)
-- Vaginal bleeding at times other than menstrual
-- Anemia (from blood loss)
-- In the abdomen or lower back (often dull, heavy and aching, but may be sharp)
-- During Sex
-- Difficulty urinating or frequent urination
-- Constipation, rectal pain or diffcult bowel movements
-- Abdominal cramps
• Enlarged uterus and abdomen
Fibriod also may cause no symptoms at all. Fibroids may be found during routine pelvic exam or during tests for other problems.
How are fibroid diagnosed?
The first sign of fibroids may be detected during routine pelvic exam. A number of tests may show more information about fibroids:
• Ultrasonography uses sound waves to create a picture of the uterus and other pelvis organs.
• Hysteroscopy uses a slender device (the hysteroscope) to see the inside of the uterus. It is inserted through the vagina and cervix (opening of the uterus). This permits the doctor to see fibroid inside the uterine cavity.
• Hysterosalpingography is a special X-ray test. It may detect abnormal changes in the size and shape of the uterus and fallopian tubes.
• Sonohysterography is a test in which fluid is put into the uterus through the cervix. Ultrasonography is then used to show the inside of the uterus. The fluid provides a clear picture of the uterine lining.
• Laparoscopy uses a slender device (the laproscope) to help the doctor see the inside of the abdomen. It is inserted through a small cut just below or through the navel. The doctor can see fibroids on the outside of the uterus with the laparoscope.
Imaging test, such as magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scans, may be used but are rarely needed. Some of these tests may be used to track the growth of fibroids over time.
When is treatment necessary for fibroids?
Fibroids that do not cause symtoms, are small, or occur in a woman who is nearing menopause oftem do not require treatment. Certain signs and symptoms may signal the need for treatment.
• Heavy or painful menstrual periods that cause anemia or that disrupt a woman's normal activities.
• Bleeding between periods
• Uncertainty whether the growth is a fibroid or another tyoe of tumor such as ovarian tumor.
• Rapid increase in growth of the fibroid
• Pelvic Pain