Uterine fibroids are abnormal non-cancerous muscular growth on the uterus. Others terms for uterine fibroids are leiomyomas or myomas. The size of the fibroids varies from undetectable by the human eye to the massive size that can distort the uterus. A female may have a single uterine fibroid or multiple ones. In some cases, the multiple fibroids expand the womb to the extent that it reaches the rib cage. Uterine fibroids never develop into cancer or increase the risk of uterine cancer.
Facts on Uterine Fibroid
- Uterine fibroids can grow on the surface of the uterus, uterus lining or the uterine wall. They may attach to the uterus by a stem-like structure.
- It mostly affects the females of childbearing age.
- Many females suffer from uterine fibroid at some point in their life, but it goes undetectable because of the absence of symptoms.
- Sometimes uterine fibroids are accidentally discovered during prenatal ultrasound of pelvic exam.
- Uterine fibroids mostly appear between 16 to 50 years of age but can show up at any age.
- According to the National Institute of Health, about 80% of females have uterine fibroid by the age of 50.
- If the uterine fibroid develops, it continues to grow until menopause.
- After menopause, the level of oestrogen falls, and the fibroid eventually shrinks.
- Complications of fibroid is rare, but it may lead to a drop in the blood cells that result in heavy blood loss and fatigue.
- In pregnant females, it increases the risk of fetal growth restriction and preterm delivery.
Types of Uterine Fibroid
Uterine fibroids are of four types depending on its location in the uterus:
Intramural Uterine Fibroids
It is the most common type of uterine fibroid. It embeds in the muscular wall of the uterus.
Subserosal Uterine fibroids
Subserosal fibroids extend beyond the wall of the womb. It grows within the surrounding of uterine tissue. It may develop as fibroid with a stem-like structure that becomes quite large.
Submucosal Uterine fibroid
The submucosal fibroid is pushed into the cavity of the womb and is found in the muscle beneath the inner lining of the uterine wall.
Cervical Uterine fibroid
Cervical fibroids take root in cervix on the neck of the womb.
Symptoms of Uterine Fibroid
The symptoms of uterine fibroid depend on the size of the fibroid, its location within the uterus and on the fact how close, they are to the adjacent pelvic organs.
Most of the cases of uterine fibroid do cause any symptoms, and the female is unaware of its presence.
However, one in three females with uterine fibroids experience following symptoms:
- Painful and heavy periods
- Anaemia due to heavy periods
- Pain in legs or backache
- Discomfort in the lower abdomen
- Pain during intercourse
- Frequent urination
Other possible symptoms include:
In general uterine fibroid do not interfere with ovulation. However, it may impair fertility and result in poor pregnancy outcomes. Fibroid deforms the inner uterine cavity and decreases productivity.
Occasionally uterine fibroid causes recurrent miscarriages.
The female may not be able to sustain a pregnancy is fibroid is not removed.
Pregnant female with fibroids may have normal pregnancy but are at risk of caesarean, preterm delivery, placental abruption, or the baby is breech.
In females with fibroid labour may fail to progress
The large fibroid may also lead to:
- Swelling in the lower abdomen
- Weight gain
- Pelvic pain during sex
- Obstructed or frequent urination due to pressure on the bladder
- Painful and difficult defecation due to the pressure on the rectum.
*Females who suffer from the symptoms of uterine fibroid find it hard to live it
What Causes Uterine Fibroid
Cause of fibroids is not known, but research links it to the following factors:
1. Genetic – Uterine fibroid runs in families.
2. Hormones – Study shows that the growth of uterine fibroids is under hormonal control. They develop during reproductive years when the level of oestrogen is high. Uterine fibroid stops growing and shrinks once the female reaches menopause or when anti-hormone medicine is used.
Factors that increase the risk of developing fibroid in females are:
- Age – Fibroid is more common in women in ’30s and ’40s.
- Heredity – If you have family members with uterine fibroid, it increases your risk. If the mother or sister have fibroids, the risk of developing it is three times higher than average.
- Obesity – Females who are overweight are at high risk of developing fibroids.
- Ethnic origin– African-American females are more likely to suffer from uterine fibroids.
- Pregnancy – During pregnancy, the production of oestrogen and progesterone hormones in the body increases that causes the fibroid to develop and grow rapidly.
- Other growth factors – Insulin-like growth factor other substances that help the body to maintain tissues may affect the growth of fibroid
- Extracellular matrix – Extracellular matrix is a material that sticks cells together. In fibroids, extracellular matrix increases and makes them fibrous. In addition, extracellular matrix stores the growth factors and causes biological changes in the cells.
- Eating habits – Eating a lot of red meat is linked with increased risk of fibroids. Eating many green vegetables seems to protect a female from developing fibroids. Food deficient in Vitamin D, dairy and fruit also increase the risk of fibroids.
How Uterine Fibroid Occurs
Our ovaries produce hormones progesterone and oestrogen. Both the hormones cause the uterine lining to thicken during the menstrual cycle.
The uterine fibroids contain more progesterone and oestrogen receptors than the normal uterine muscles. Thus, a high level of oestrogen and progesterone hormone appears to promote the growth of fibroids.
Ayurveda Approach to Manage Uterine Fibroids
According to Ayurveda, accumulation of the toxins in tissues disturbs the biochemistry of body and loss of natural balance. This obstructs elimination of toxins and leads to the development of uterine fibroid. Thus, the Ayurveda treatment for uterine fibroid primary aims to bring back the balance and eliminate the toxins. It is a holistic approach to boost the immune system, balance the hormones and to support long term proper functioning of the ovaries.