One of the most common benign tumors found in the female uterus is uterine myomas. They occur in nearly 80% of women by the age of 50, with the higher percentage never knowing of the fibroid’s existence. The majority of women with myomas, also known as fibroids, are asymptomatic; however, some might experience menstruation symptoms, extreme pressure, pelvic pain, or complications with pregnancy. Typically, the methods of treatment between asymptomatic and symptomatic myomas differ.
What is The Cause of Uterine Myomas?
There is no substantial indication of why myomas develop in the majority of women during their reproductive years, but there are some factors that clinical research has suggested playing a role in the forming of the non-cancerous tumors.
- Genetic Changes and Abnormalities: Research has shown that extracted uterine fibroids have displayed changes in genes that differ significantly from the ones found in healthy uterine muscle cells.
- Hormones: The ovaries produce both estrogen and progesterone hormones which causes the monthly menstruation cycle. The shedding of the uterine lining could activate the growth of uterine myoma.
- Family History: Doctors believe family history to be a key factor, and have suggested that women of African ancestry are more likely to develop the fibroids, and at a younger age.
What are The Symptoms of Fibroids?
The higher percentage of women won’t experience distressing symptoms and therefore won’t know that the fibroids are there. However, your symptoms can depend on the location of the myoma, and you should look for the following:
- Heavier than usual menstrual flow or spotting between your periods
- Frequent urinating or UTI related symptoms
- Uncommonly painful periods
- Consistent and sharp pelvic pain
- Rectum pressure or constipation
Uterine myomas don’t interfere with the ovulation process, but they could cause low fertility. If you experience any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist. Emergency medical attention may be required if you experience severe bleeding or sharp and sudden pelvic pain.
What are The Treatments for Uterine Myomas?
After uncovering a fibroid(s) on your uterus through pelvic exams or other imaging tests, there are a variety of treatments that are available, and your Gynecologist should go through your options with you.
- Medicinal Treatment: In the majority of circumstances, your Gynecologist suggests non-surgical treatments for your myomas. The treatments usually include prescription medications that shut down the production of estrogen to create a low-estrogen state for three to six months. These medicines can shrink the tumor up to 50%. Symptoms are typically similar to that of menopause and include vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood imbalances, and more.
- Surgical Treatment: Depending on the severity of your fibroid situation, surgical treatments might get recommended. Possible surgeries include a hysterectomy, where the entire uterus (and the myomas) gets removed. There is also a Myomectomy which uses a laparoscope to remove the fibroids from the uterus. If there is suspicion of malignancy in the tumor, surgical treatment gets recommended.
Ultimately, you should have a thorough discussion with your doctor to consider the risks and benefits of each treatment. Except for a hysterectomy, it is possible for uterine myomas to reoccur and require additional treatment.