A lot of women are scared about the outcome of surgeries of any kind. Women in their reproductive years who are plagued by fibroid seek either new or harmless solution available.
The fear of undergoing surgery has forced many women to patronise traditional healers who advocate the use of herbs which they say shrink the fibroid and can cause it to be passed out during menstruation. Orthodox medical practitioners are opposed to this school of thought but rather strongly believe that surgery is the conventional and preferred way available for treating fibroid.
WHAT IS FIBROID? Fibroid is known to distort the womb making it a common cause of infertility. Fibroid is regarded as a disease common to African women and it is one of the commonest diseases affecting women who are in their reproductive years. Statistics has revealed that an average of three (3) fibroid surgeries are performed weekly. Fibroid is seen as the most common tumor of the body in women. On estimation, 25% of women have fibroid at one stage or the other in their respective lives.
TYPES OF FIBROID:
The type of fibroid of an abnormal growth that affects the smooth muscle, the muscle that forms the wall of uterus or womb of women in their 30’s and 40’s is referred to as Myomasand commonly known as uterine fibroid (Fibromayomas). There are few occasions where there could the cancerous transformation of the tumor and it becomes Lymayoma and that happens in about 2% percent of cases. They are solid tumors and are made of fibrous tissue, which the name ‘fibroid’ tumor is derived from. Most fibroids occur as multiple tumor masses which are slow-growing and often cause no symptoms.
The size of fibroids varies significantly among women; some are so small that the microscope is required to detect them. However, some women experience a single large fibroid tumor, the size of a grapefruit or fibroid which is so large such that it encompasses the entire abdominal area. Such large tumors can weigh as much as 50 pounds. The largest reported fibroid ever recorded weighed 140 pounds.
Fibroid could be asymptomatic (showing no symptoms), which means that there is no reason to complain because it is not causing any problem or symptoms but the patient can have the disease. Some women have been known to suffer fibroid during their life time and never had any complaints. However, it’s not in every woman that fibroid is asymptomatic or non-problem causing. Often times, it is symptomatic (causing problems and showing symptoms).
The most common symptoms that will manifest in a symptomatic woman afflicted with uterine fibroid include heavy/abnormal menstrual bleeding, prolonged menstrual periods (lasting seven days or more), pelvic pressure or pain during menstruation, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, constipation, backache or leg pains and as the fibroid tumor grows larger, women often experience a swollen abdomen. Most times, the symptoms will prompt a visit to the doctor.
The risk of having uterine fibroid includes being an African woman- it is higher in blacks than whites. Women who are not making babies are at a higher risk of getting fibroid. Women that have fibroid may suffer infertility- difficulty in getting pregnant. It’s the commonest reason why women don’t get pregnant in our continent. The fibroid distorts the anatomy of the womb such that a baby finds it difficult to grow or stay in the womb if she gets pregnant. Also she may have recurrent abortion/miscarriages at about five months because the fibroid has so distorted the configuration of the womb.
No one seems to be sure why fibroid tumors develop, but some facts seem clear. Fibroid tumors do not develop before the body begins producing estrogen during the onset of menstruation. Fibroid tumors will continue to grow while estrogen is present and will grow very quickly during pregnancy when the body is producing extra estrogen. Because fibroid is associated with estrogen production in the body, fibroid tumors shrink and disappear after menopause when the body stops producing estrogen. In fact a woman will almost never develop fibroid tumors after menopause.
The estrogen connection appears to be quite clear, although there are still some who doubt the role estrogen plays in the development of fibroid tumors because women with fibroids often have blood levels which reveal normal amounts of estrogen.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT:
Diagnosis of fibroid is generally made by a physician during an annual gynecological examination where a mass is felt and an ultrasound scan is required. For severe fibroid tumors, surgery is often the recommended option for treatment. Surgery for fibroid tumors includes myomectomy and hysterectomy. Myomectomy is the surgical removal of each tumor without damage to the uterus, preserving a women’s ability to conceive. However, fibroids will often grow back and although it is possible to have a myomectomy repeatedly.
Multiple myomectomy can cause other problems such as the walls of the uterus sticking together due to scarring.
The sad facts are, because fibroids grow back, most women will eventually have to face hysterectomy. Removing the procedure of choice for fibroid tumors in women with severe symptoms in which the tumor has grown to the size of a uterus at twelve (12) weeks of pregnancy. In such women with excessively large fibroid tumors, severe abnormal bleeding occurs and the fibroids are causing problems with other organs such as the bladder and bowels.
The use of drugs as a treatment option to shrink fibroid is not always advocated because for as long as the patient remains on these drugs, the fibroid will shrink but as soon as it is stopped there is a rebound growth with the fibroid growing bigger in size than before.