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Tumors (abnormal growths) are becoming more and more common in the world. For women, a particularly common type of tumor is a uterine fibroid. Luckily, most of the time fibroids are benign. This means that they can be removed easily or treated.
If you have been diagnosed with a uterine fibroid by your doctor, don’t let this information scare you. Most of the time, women diagnosed with fibroids do not suffer any setbacks health-wise. In fact, some may not need treatment at all.
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are growths or non-cancerous tumors of the womb. They can happen in as many as 3 out of 4 women. Often, more than one fibroid may be found in the womb. Uterine fibroids usually occur during the childbearing years, from the late twenties to the early forties.
A lot of the time, they do not produce any symptoms. During these times you may find out by chance when having a gynecological exam or sometimes during an ultrasound when you are pregnant. Uterine fibroids are not an indication that you will get uterine cancer. It is extremely rare for these growths to turn cancerous (there’s only about a 1 in 1000 chance of this happening).
Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
Symptoms that may appear when a woman has uterine fibroids include:
- Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods
- Pain or pressure in the pelvis
- Difficulty in urinating completely
- Frequent urination
- Backache or pains in the leg
The symptoms you may experience if you have uterine fibroids vary according to the size and location of the fibroids in your uterus. If the fibroid is growing from the inner part of your uterus, you may also have trouble conceiving a child.
Causes of Uterine Fibroids
It’s not clear exactly why uterine fibroids occur in some women and not in others. However, from research and studies, there could be some possible causes of uterine fibroids.
- Some genetic transformation takes place inside the body that leads to this abnormal growth of the uterine lining.
- Certain hormones and substances in the body may contribute to fibroid growth. These include the naturally occurring hormones estrogen, progesterone, and insulin-like growth factor.
Factors that Contribute to Uterine Fibroid Formation
The direct causes behind uterine fibroids are largely unknown. However, there are several factors that may determine whether or not you develop a uterine fibroid. These factors include:
- Genetics- If a female family member such as your mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother has had fibroids before, then the risk is higher that you will get them.
- History of pregnancy and giving birth- Your chances of developing uterine fibroids may be lessened if you have gotten pregnant before and given birth.
- Oral contraceptives- There have been studies that show a strong link between the use of oral contraceptives and the development of uterine fibroids.
- Race- Some races are more inclined to develop uterine fibroids than others eg black women.
Diagnosis of Uterine Fibroids
If you suspect that you have a uterine fibroid you should definitely see your doctor immediately. Your doctor will ask you a few questions and carry out a physical examination, especially in the pelvic region. If the doctor finds some lumps in the pelvic area, or if he or she suspects that it really is a uterine fibroid, usually an ultrasound or other types of tests are carried out so that the doctor can get a better look inside your womb.