As the name suggests uterine fibroids are usually benign non-cancerous tumors that form in the uterus. They consist of dense fibrous tissue and can appear almost any time after puberty. In many cases, fibroids don’t present any problems and are usually diagnosed during pregnancy or during the menopausal transition.
One important point to note about fibroids is that they are ‘vascular’ in nature. This is a medical term meaning that fibroids contain well-defined blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to aid sustainability. In other words, uterine fibroids are a kind of living organism.
This leaves surgeons with a dilemma. Removing them can leave the patient bloody and debilitated but more importantly, fibroids, just like weeds, can grow again if there are any ‘roots’ (in this case blood vessels) left behind.
So now we know exactly what they are…
Where do they grow?
While it’s pretty obvious from the name that uterine fibroids grow in the uterus, they tend to grow in various places within the internal and external walls. As such, they have different names depending upon where they grow. Let’s take a closer look at some of them…
Submucosal fibroids grow inside the uterine cavity and because they can crowd space, they often cause heavy menstrual bleeding and long periods. They are also more likely than other types of fibroids to cause fertility problems or miscarriage.
Submucosal fibroids in some cases can also enlarge the uterus, giving the appearance of extreme weight gain or pregnancy even though this might not be the case.
This type of uterine fibroid grows within the muscular walls of the uterus. This is the area that contracts when giving birth. Intramural fibroids can cause pelvic pain, uncomfortable pressure, and abnormal menstrual cycles.
As opposed to submucosal fibroids, the subserosal type is formed ‘outside’ of the walls of the uterus. Women can experience continual bladder pressure with subserosal fibroids making them feel like they need to constantly visit the bathroom. In addition, another typical symptom of subserosal fibroids is back pain.
These are in fact mushroom-like structures complete with stalks that tend to grow either inside or outside the walls of the uterus. One of the common symptoms of a twisted or impeded stalk is severe pelvic pain.
Now we’ve talked about what fibroids are and where they grow, we should really address why uterine fibroids are there in the first place…
Surprisingly, although the condition is extremely common, there is no clearly defined cause. It’s thought that 1 in 4 women over the age of 40 has developed fibroids but also the problem is found significantly in pregnant women.
Moreover, women who are in their 30’s and are not pregnant or do not fit the stereotypical fibroid-prone profile, are also experiencing the condition.
So what do we know?
Previous medical studies have linked uterine fibroid growth with a surge in estrogen levels. During times of pregnancy or menopause, high spikes in estrogen coincide with higher levels of fibroid growth.
But what about in those women mentioned earlier who have not fallen pregnant or who have yet to reach the menopausal transition period? Why are they getting uterine fibroids?
Scientists suggest that there are a whole host of other factors that could also trigger fibroid growth. These include:
- Hereditary means – Have any of your relatives had or currently have fibroids? Clinical research suggests that fibroids can run in families.
- Ethnicity – African-American women are more likely to experience fibroid growth – Some sources suggest this could be as high as 80-90%.
- Poor diet – Eating a diet high in red meat, dairy and refined carbohydrates is also thought to be linked with an increase in fibroid growth
- Weight gain – Fat cells in the body secrete substances that mimic estrogen. Being overweight can explain why some young women who don’t fall into any other category, suffer from uterine fibroids.
Clearly, uterine fibroids affect many women so if you have been recently diagnosed then you’re certainly not alone!
The good news is that surgery is no longer the only choice. Here at the Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy (MINT), we use the latest non-surgical treatments to remove or shrink fibroids so that you can live a normal life.
Contact Dr. Akinwande on 314 255 2204 to schedule an appointment or alternatively, check out our website where you can find a wealth of information.