Uterine fibroids are quite common and can have an adverse affect on fertility. In this article we will look at what they are, the symptoms of uterine fibroids, the diagnosis and the treatments.
What are Uterine Fibroids?
About 25% of women of child bearing age are thought to be affected with uterine fibroids so it is a very common condition. It is most common in the 30 – 50 years age band. A uterine fibroid is a non cancerous benign growth that can be located within the uterus or outside of the uterus. The cause of uterine fibroids is not known but is thought to be affected by higher levels of oestrogen as changing levels of this hormone seem to link to the growth of fibroids. Oestrogen is higher when pregnant and when on the contraceptive pill taken so it is during these times that fibroids growth can manifest. As a woman reaches menopause and the oestrogen levels reduce to low levels uterine fibroids may shrink and almost disappear.
Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
Women often have uterine fibroids for years without their knowledge and without any symptoms. Where there are symptoms they may be manifested as prolonged periods, heavy bleeding, lower back pain, abdominal pain and the need for frequent urination. Early miscarriages due to the fibroid inhibiting healthy growth of the egg are another well known effect of this disease. As with any other medical symptom a specialist doctor should be consulted at an early stage so that appropriate steps can be taken to investigate the symptoms as this can also rule out other more serious causes of the symptoms.
Diagnosis of Uterine Fibroids
Following a doctors consultation for any of the above symptoms a doctor may arrange for an ultrasound scan to look for fibroids. Often a routine internal examination may pick up the irregular shape of the uterus. The doctor will probably arrange an ultrasound examination to see the uterus in detail.
Treatment of Uterine Fibroids
Many fibroids do not present a problem to woman’s health or fertility and the fibroids will disappear on their own. The doctor will make a decision as to whether surgical removal may be necessary based growth rate of fibroid, amount of pain, amount of blood loss, age, and desire for children and discuss this with the patient. The surgical procedure is known as a myomectomy and the method of removal can be via the vaginal or abdominal incision route. If fibroids are causing infertility and a myomectomy is performed to remove the fibroids the success rate for restoring fertility is about 60%. Women that have been experiencing early miscarriages also have a high probability of now having a successful pregnancy with only a 20% failure rate.
Complimentary treatments include changing lifestyle and diet to a healthy low fat, high fibre diet along with reducing sugar and alcohol along with elimination of red meats have shown to be helpful to women with fibroids as this kind of diet reduces oestrogen.
Uterine fibroids can have negative impact on fertility but there are treatment protocols that can diagnose and treat the condition with good rates of success.