Uterine Fibroids: Here's All You Need To Know About The Treatment Of This Condition
Uterine fibroids are of different sizes- from the size of a pea to that of an orange. These fibroids are neither cancerous nor do they increase the risk of a uterine cancer. However, uterine fibroids can significantly affect the quality of life.
Pelvic pain is one of the warning signs of uterine fibroids in women
- Heavy bleeding related to fibroids can lead to anemia
- Uterine fibroids are of different sizes
- These fibroids are non-cancerous
The female reproductive system is complex and there are several conditions that can affect fertility or the ability of giving birth to children. One of the most frequent health concerns associated with the reproductive system is the development of uterine fibroids. These are dense, muscular, non- cancerous tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. These fibroids are neither cancerous nor do they increase the risk of a uterine cancer. However, uterine fibroids can significantly affect the quality of life for those suffering from this condition.
Uterine fibroids are of different sizes- from the size of a pea to that of an orange. It is impossible to determine how big a fibroid will grow. However, the bigger the fibroids, the more likely a person is to experience symptoms that hinder their daily lives. Most women develop fibroids by the time they reach the age of 50 years and it is most common during the 40s and 50s
All about uterine fibroids
Many people who have fibroids have not experience any symptoms and discover the condition as part of the routine check-up performed by the gynaecologist. However, some of the symptoms include:
- Periods that last longer than a week
- Abdominal cramps or pain
- Pelvic pain or a feeling of fullness in lower abdomen
- Lower back and leg pain
- Frequent need to urinate or difficulty in urination
- Pain during intercourse
- Chronic vaginal discharge
- Associated risks and complications
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For people who experience heavy bleeding related to fibroids, anaemia could be a health risk. Also, in rare cases when a fibroid grows very large, pressure on the bladder and urethra can cause kidney damage. Women should not ignore complications associated with menstruation and other symptoms of uterine fibroids by popping pills available over the counter. They should visit a gynaecologist, who can diagnose if there is any structural or histological uterus problem and immediately start treatment. There are also very rare chances of the tumour turning malignant.
How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?
Most people don't know they have fibroids until they visit a gynaecologist for a routine physical check-up or undergo a prenatal ultrasound. Confirmation may come via tests like transvaginal ultrasound (sometimes with saline pumped into the uterus), an MRI, or a hysteroscopy, a surgical procedure in which a scope is inserted into the uterus.
Myomectomy vs hysterectomy fibroid treatment is very case-specific. Both the treatment methods are highly effective and do not pose life-threatening risks. However, your overall health and expectation from the clinical outcome determine which is better for you.
Treating uterine fibroids
Myomectomy: It is considered the frontline treatment for large fibroids. In a traditional myomectomy, a large incision in the abdomen is made by the surgeon. The uterine fibroids are located through this surgical incision and removed. The surgeon later stitches the incision post-surgery. There is also a minimally invasive method of surgery known as laparoscopic myomectomy for removal of fibroid which is more beneficial for the patient. A laparoscopic procedure is more beneficial for the patient. In this procedure, the surgeon makes several small incisions in the abdomen. The surgeon inserts a thin tube that has a tiny camera attached at one end. This tube is known as a laparoscope. The medical device helps the surgeon locate and visualise uterine fibroids in a more accurate way. Through the other incisions, the surgeon removes the abnormal growth. A laparoscopic myomectomy is a pain free method with less scarring, less blood loss and promotes quicker recovery for the patient.
Hysterectomy: A hysterectomy is the last stage of treatment for this condition. In this procedure, the surgeon entirely removes the uterus from the patient's body. This procedure is undertaken for patients who have developed large fibroids in the uterus. A hysterectomy is a permanent solution for this ailment. However, it is an irreversible process. If the uterus is removed from the reproductive system, the women cannot bear children anytime in future. While choosing hysterectomy, the patient should carefully consider if she is hoping to become pregnant in the future. If yes, then she should not go ahead with this procedure and should rather discuss alternate treatment modalities with her gynaecologist.
(Dr. Aruna Kalra, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurgaon)
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