Uterine fibroids are benign tumorous growths affecting the uterus. They originate from the myometrium, the middle layer of the uterine wall, hence they are made of smooth muscle fibers. These benign tumors are typically round or semi-round in shape.
There are three types of uterine fibroids, subserosal fibroids which are located beneath the serosa, submucosal fibroid which are inside the uterine cavity and intramural fibroids located in the muscular layer of the uterine wall.
Uterine Fibroids Development and Risk Factors
The exact cause of uterine fibroid development remains a mystery. Still, there are many factors that may be associated with the condition. For instance, these benign tumors may be connected with some genetic abnormalities, changes in growth factor, abnormalities regarding the vascular system and excessive tissue response to some injury.
Furthermore, it is estimated that women with a positive family history of uterine fibroids are at higher risk of developing the condition themselves. The condition is also reported more if the menstrual cycles start before the age of 10. It may sound amazing but women who consume alcohol, particularly beer, are at higher risk of developing uterine fibroids. Finally, several more factors associated with the condition include previous uterine infections, hypertension, and excess estrogen stimulation.
Uterine Fibroids Clinical Characteristics
Many women may have one or even several fibroids inside the uterus and have no problems at all. Such condition is asymptomatic and is usually discovered accidentally during gynecological examination or ultrasound of the pelvis.
On the other hand, some women may experience bleeding associated with uterine fibroids. What is more, if the tumor is located near the lining of the organ, by interfering with the blood flow the tumor leads to heavy and painful periods, prolonged periods and sometimes spotting between regular monthly bleeding.
Prolonged loss of blood (if it is severe enough) may lead to iron deficiency anemia and associated health issues.
Large fibroids are blamed for pressure to the nearby organs (the bladder or the rectum) as well as pain in the pelvis.
Uterine Fibroids Prognosis
If uterine fibroids are asymptomatic, patients do not require any treatment at all. Sometimes asymptomatic, large fibroids may need to be removed. They also require close observation.
Rapid growth of the tumor is considered serious and such fibroids are usually surgically removed.
Uterine fibroids that have already led to miscarriages need to be removed and after surgical removal a woman may be able to sustain a pregnancy.