In honour of Women’s Month, Umhlanga gynaecologist/obstetrician, Dr T Berios will be offering free pelvic scans to women, who suffer from heavy and painful periods that may be related to the the presence of a fibroid in the uterus.
The free scans will be offered on August 18, 2018 at the Umhlanga Medial Centre between 8am and 1pm. For enquiries, call 031 582-5053.
Fibroids: A few relevant facts
Fibroids are generally non-cancerous tumours that grow from the muscle layers of the womb. These benign growths of smooth muscle can vary in size from a bean to a watermelon.
Fibroids can affect about 30 percent of all women by the time they reach the age of 35 and from 20 percent to 80 percent by the age of 50.
They usually develop between the ages of 16 to 50, which are a woman’s reproductive years during which estrogen levels are higher.
There are four types of fibroids:
- Intra-mural fibroids – most common and grow in the uterine wall – these may cause bleeding;
- Sub-mucosal fibroids – may push into the uterine cavity and may be associated with heavy bleeding;
- Subserosal fibroids – these extend beyond the wall of the uterus; and
- Cervical fibroids – these develop in the area of the womb called the cervix.
Around 30 percent of women who suffer from fibroids will suffer from symptoms which may include:
- Heavy and painful periods – this may result in anaemia
- Lower back pain
- Frequent urination
- Pregnancy problems
- Fertility problems
- Repeated miscarriages
- Complications may include the following:
- Menorrhagia – heavy periods
- Abdominal pain – if the fibroids are large, swelling and discomfort may occur in the lower abdomen.
- May also cause constipation and painful bowel movements
- Pregnancy problems – preterm labour, labour problems, and miscarriage
- Infertility – fibroids can make it harder for the fertilized egg to attach itself to the womb
- Leiomyosacroma – this is a rare form of cancer that is thought by some to be able to develop inside a fibroid in very rare cases
It remains unclear exactly what causes fibroid but they may be related to estrogen levels.
During the reproductive years, estogen and progesterone levels are higher. When estrogen levels are high, especially during pregnancy, fibroids tend to enlarge.
They are also more likely to develop when a woman is taking birth control pills that contain estrogen.
Low estrogen levels can cause fibroids to shrink, such as during and after menopause. Genetic factors are thought to impact the development of fibroids. Having a close relative with fibroids increases the chance of developing them.
As fibroids often do not show symptoms, they are usually diagnosed during routine pelvic examinations.
The following diagnostic tests can detect fibroids and rule out other conditions:
Treatment is only recommended for those women who experience symptoms as a result of fibroids. If the fibroids do not affect a woman’s quality of life, treatment may not be necessary.
Medications such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or the birth control pill, may be helpful in the treatment of fibroids.
Surgery may also be the last form of treatment which may involve different procedures such as myomectomy (removal of the fibroid), hysterectomy, fibroid resection or uterine fibroid embolization.