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Fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomas, are non-cancerous growths in the uterus that can cause a range of symptoms, including heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and difficulty getting pregnant. It's estimated that up to 80% of women will develop fibroids by the age of 50. While most fibroids don't cause any symptoms, they can be a significant source of discomfort for some women. The location of the fibroids can affect the type and severity of symptoms a woman experiences.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding: Fibroids can cause heavy or prolonged periods, which may require frequent changes of tampons or pads.
- Pelvic pain: Fibroids can cause pelvic pain or pressure, which may be especially noticeable during sexual intercourse.
- Abdominal swelling: Large fibroids can cause the abdomen to become enlarged or swollen, which may be mistaken for pregnancy.
- Frequent urination: Fibroids can press on the bladder and cause a need to urinate more frequently or urgently.
- Constipation: Fibroids can press on the rectum and cause constipation or difficulty passing stool.
- Back or leg pain: Fibroids can cause pain in the lower back or legs, which may be caused by pressure on nerves or blood vessels.
- Infertility: Fibroids can sometimes interfere with fertility by blocking the fallopian tubes or changing the shape of the uterus.
- Genetic factors: Fibroids can run in families, and some women may have a genetic predisposition to developing them.
- Age: Fibroids typically develop during a woman's reproductive years and tend to shrink after menopause.
- Hormonal imbalances: An imbalance in the hormone’s estrogen and progesterone, which can occur during pregnancy, perimenopause, or other hormonal changes, may contribute to the growth of fibroids.
- Obesity: Women who are overweight or obese may be at higher risk for developing fibroids.
Environmental factors: Exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants may contribute to the development of fibroids, although more research is needed to understand this link.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Are fibroids cancerous?
Fibroids are typically benign, meaning they are not cancerous. However, in rare cases, they can develop into a cancerous tumour called leiomyosarcoma.
Can fibroids be treated without surgery?
Yes, fibroids can be treated with medication or minimally invasive procedures, such as uterine artery embolization, myomectomy, or endometrial ablation. MRI-guided focused ultrasound is another non-invasive option.
Can fibroids cause infertility?
Yes, fibroids can sometimes interfere with fertility by blocking the fallopian tubes or changing the shape of the uterus.