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Uterine Fibroid Awareness

Updated: Feb 2

Written By: Kiandra Arnold





What are fibroids?

Fibroids or leiomyomas are noncancerous tumors that develop in the uterus. No one know the exact cause of fibroids, but they can be linked to diet, stress, genetics, and hormone imbalance. Fibroids are more common in women aged 30 to 40 but they can occur at any age. They affect Black women more than White women and can occur at a younger age and grow more quickly in Black women. These differences may be due to racism and inequities in society, which can increase the risk of health problems.



Type of Fibroids

The size, shape, and location of fibroids can vary greatly. Fibroids can be small, pea size without any symptoms or they can be large causing many complications and the stomach to protrude.

  • Submucosal: Inside the uterus or abutting the uterine cavity. Typically cause heavy bleeding

  • Intramural: Within the muscular walls of the uterus. Typically cause heavy bleeding

  • Subserosal: Outer wall of the uterus and typically cause bulk or pressure symptoms.

  • Pedunculated: Fibroids on a thin stalk (less common).


Symptoms

Different types of fibroids are associated with different symptoms. Submucosal fibroids typically cause heavy periods while subserosal fibroids are more likely to push against the bladder, causing frequent urination and possibly urinary incontinence. Typical symptoms include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding

  • Anemia

  • Infertility

  • Miscarriage

  • Pelvic Pain

  • Frequent urination

  • Urinary incontinence

  • Lower Back Pain

  • Abdominal Pressure/Swelling

  • Discomfort or pain with sexual intercourse


Diagnosis

  • Ultrasound= uses sound waves to create a picture of the uterus and other pelvic organs (transvaginal and saline hysterosonograpy helps practitioner’s exam the inside of the uterus and endometrium better).

  • MRI= may be used to pinpoint the location of fibroids and track the growth of fibroids over time.

  • Hysteroscopy= a thin device is inserted though the vagina and cervix to see the inside of the uterus.


Treatment

Medications may be an option for some women with fibroids. Medications may reduce heavy bleeding and painful periods that fibroids sometimes cause but they may not prevent growth of fibroids. Surgery is often needed later.

  • Birth control pills and other type of hormonal birth control methods- may be used to control bleeding and painful periods.

  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone(GnRH) agonists- may be used to stop the menstrual cycle and shrink fibroids.

  • Intrauterine device- an option for women with fibroids that do not distort the inside of the uterus. It reduces heavy bleeding.

  • Tranexamic acid- used to treat heavy bleeding. It reduces blood loss during your period but does not stop your period.

  • Myomectomy= surgical removal of fibroids while leaving the uterus intact

  • Hysterectomy= surgical removal of the uterus. This is often done when other treatments do not work or are not possible or the fibroids are very large.


What advice would I give to someone suffering with fibroids?

  • As someone who dealt with fibroids for over 10 years that left me infertile during my prime reproductive years and caused so many complications, my biggest advice is to advocate for yourself. Don’t give up or suffer in silence and let doctors dismiss your issues. Get that 2nd, 3rd, 4th opinion or whatever it takes to find a doctor who listen and take action. Pay attention to labels and what is in the food you are eating and products you are putting on and in your body. Eat a diet full of fruits, vegetables, fish, and poultry (chicken,turkey,etc) if you desire to eat meat. Limit the amount of meat you eat, especially red meat and pork. Red meat(beef) and ham is linked with higher risk of fibroids. Eating plenty of green vegetables seems to protect women from developing fibroids. Get some vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is a powerful inhibitor of fibroid. Sunlight(in moderation) , supplements and foods like salmon can help increase your vitamin D levels.


References:


About the Author: Kiandra Arnold, PharmD

Instagram - @TheSavvyPharmD



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