Hello there, welcome to the health section.This is the first of many health gems that will constantly feature here for your benefit, be sure to check this segment each week for your weekly dosage of mamlipsete.
Today, lets talk about fibroids, what are they? What really causes them? Are they treatable?
Well lets find out…
The name fibroids scares. It did scare *Bancy when she was diagnosed with fibroids at the age of 28, three months after her wedding.
Fibroids: What are they?
Fibroids are considered to be abnormal growths that develop in or on a woman’s uterus. At times these tumors may become quite large and lead to severe abdominal pain and heavy periods. While this occurs often, there are known cases where the growths were benign (there were no signs and symptoms in these cases).
For Bancy, her stomach wasn’t abnormally big but her periods were too heavy and this would really affect their sex life because she was always bleeding.
What causes Fibroids?
The cause is unknown. Although studies have demonstrated that there may be a genetic component involved.
There are certain factors that increase the risk of developing fibroids;
- Age: Fibroids usually occur in women aging, especially during their late 20s and 40s and up to menopause. After menopause they are less likely to appear.
- Obesity: Being overweight as a woman can put you at risk for fibroids.
- Ethnic origin: Women of African-American origin are likely to develop fibroids than other ethnicities.
- Family history: Are you aware of a family member who has had to battle fibroids? Having a family member with fibroids increases the risks of getting them.
- Hormones: Estrogen and progesterone are hormones produced by ovaries. They cause the uterine wall to regenerate during each menstrual cycle and may stimulate fibroid growth.
Bancy says about these factors,
“My doctor mentioned all those factors and surprisingly, I fell into all those categories. First, I was 28 years, that fitted the bracket. Secondly I was a bit overweight, weighing around 78 kgs. Then of course I am black(and proud of my skin). My 50 something old aunty had recently had fibroid surgery and I had just started hormonal pills for family planning.
I did not want a baby that year but after the fibroid scare, I thought I would never have any. I stopped with the fp and started trying.”
Common symptoms of uterine fibroids
Most reported cases of fibroids by women experienced no symptoms at all. However, existence of large and numerous fibroids can cause such symptoms
• Heavy and prolonged periods.
• Bleeding in between periods.
• Low back pain
• Pain during intercourse
• Difficulty in getting pregnant.
• Frequent urination.
• Pelvic pain and pressure.
“Like I said, I was bleeding heavily. My periods would go for about six to seven days where I would change my fully filled pads five to six times a day. But that was the only symptom I encountered.”
Diagnosis of Fibroids
How are fibroids diagnosed?
In order to get a good diagnosis, it is recommended that you book an appointment with a professional gynecologist in order to get a pelvic examination. In the examination, the condition, size and shape of your uterus is checked.
Other additional tests that can be performed are:
This is considered when scanning for fibroids. It makes use of sound waves in diagnosis of fibroids and also involves use of frequencies much higher that what can be heard by the ear.
The doctor places an ultrasound probe on the abdomen or inside the vagina to help scan the uterus and ovaries. This method heavily relies on experience and skill of the doctor or technician to produce quality results.
This is the use of magnets and radio waves to produce images. The doctor is able to gain road map of the size, number and location of the fibroids. They can also distinguish between fibroids and adenomyosis, which sometimes gets misdiagnosed.
As for Bancy, her doctor suggested an ultrasound for her and the probe was placed on the abdomen where the sonographer noted 2 uterine masses ,one within the lower segment of the uterus and the other attached to the amterior uterine wall. Everything else was normal, ovaries and cervix etc.
Are fibroids treatable?
This is good news, right? The doctor/ gynecologist you are seeing will develop a treatment plan which is age specific, dependent on the size of fibroids, one which will not affect your overall wellbeing, extent of symptoms, fertility goals, number and size of the fibroids and one which is dependent on any previous fibroids treatment.
These aid hormone levels and have the effect of shrinking the fibroids. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists such as leuprolide (Lupron) can cause your estrogen and progesterone levels to drop, resulting in stopping menstruation and shrinking fibroids.
Some other options that can aid in controlling bleeding and pain, but won’t shrink or eliminate fibroids are: an intrauterine device (IUD) that releases the hormone progestin, over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and birth control pills.
When is surgery applicable?
Surgery is done to remove very large or multiple growths. This is known as myomectomy. An abdominal myomectomy involves making large incision in the abdomen to access the uterus and remove the fibroids.
The surgery can also be performed laparoscopically, using small incisions into which surgical tools and a camera are inserted.
However, after all this, Fibroids may still grow back after surgery.
If your conditions worsens, or if no other treatments work, your physician may perform a hysterectomy. However, this means that you wont be able to bear children in the future.
How did Bancy treat hers?
“Well, First, the bleeding was too much and I wanted them out. Second, I really wanted to have a baby asap. So the doctor suggested that I conceive and then the fibroids would be removed as I gave birth to my baby.
It was a long shot because we weren’t sure if in the first place I would conceive and then having a growing fibroid with a growing baby in my womb was scary.
But then I didn’t want to get the fibroid out and then have to wait to heal from the myomectomy then start to conceive . I took the risk to have them both in my womb and fortunately, I conceived.
My doctor monitored me very closely throughout the nine months. At 39 weeks I went for an Elective Caesarean. I couldn’t give birth normally for obvious reasons. The baby was in breech position but very healthy. The fibroids ,one the size of an apple was 2 small pebble-like growths were removed.
Its five years now and my baby and I are ok.”
There you go readers. We hope our health section on fibroids today was of help to you.
*Names have been changed.
If you would like to share your story on any health issue you went through, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or on the comment section.