A uterine fibroid is a benign (usually non-cancerous) tumor that develops in the smooth muscle-tissue of the uterus. Although made up of the same fibrous muscle as the uterine wall, the fibroid nodule is much denser. A fibroid can grow on either the inside or outside wall of the uterus, and can range in size from a small lesion to golf-ball size nodules, and, on rare occasions, a fibroid may completely fill the womb.
Types of Fibroids
There are four types of benign fibroids: Intramural, Subserosal, Submucosal, and Pedunculated. Each type of fibroid is located in and around the uterine wall, with the Intramural Fibroid being the most common.
As all women are different, so too are the size and amount of fibroids they may experience. While almost all women will develop a fibroid during their reproductive years, some may only have one fibroid, while others may have dozens.
Symptoms of Fibroids
Most women will not experience any fibroid symptoms, however, being aware of the warning signs is beneficial in addressing the issue early. Symptoms of a fibroid may not be limited to just one of the following issues, with some women experiencing what is often referred to as ‘mass-effect’ symptoms.
The size and location of the fibroid(s) determines the extent of symptoms each individual experiences. These include:
- Abnormal Menstruation
This fibroid symptom includes any bleeding or spotting between periods, and/or prolonged and excessive menstrual bleeding. Large clots may also be passed, and in some instances, heavier than normal menstruation can lead to gynecologic hemorrhage and severe anemia – as a co-existing disorder, fatigue, appearing pale, shortness of breath and heart palpitations may also occur.
- Pelvic pain and discomfort
Severe cramping may occur with fibroids, more so when experiencing excessive menstrual bleeding, and can also produce a feeling of heaviness in the lower abdomen. A larger fibroid can also put pressure on the surrounding structures, and if nerves are compressed, can produce lower-back pain, and pain in the sides and legs.
- Frequent Urination and Constipation
When a fibroid compresses the bladder, it decreases the bladder’s capacity to hold waste, and induces an increased need to urinate, and can lead to incontinence. Pressure placed on the bowel and rectum can result in constipation or difficulty during bowel movements.
- Distorted Abdomen
As a fibroid increases in size, they can expand above and over the pelvic bone, producing a paunch or the appearance of pregnancy. Depending on the location, when fibroids get large enough, they can be clearly felt by palpating the abdomen.
- Pain during sexual intercourse
In some cases, a fibroid can distort the vagina causing pain, and sometimes bleeding during sexual intercourse. (Note: painful intercourse may have other causes, and not necessarily be a symptom of uterine fibroids. As such, a medical diagnosis should be sought.)
- Reproductive Dysfunction
While studies are still in their early stages, and have elicited controversy, complications such as recurrent miscarriages, infertility, premature labor and complication during labormayhave a causal effect when a fibroid(s) causes distortion of the uterus.
When To Seek Medical Advice For Fibroids
While most women won’t experience any fibroid symptoms, or only mild symptomatic issues, which can be managed during annual check-ups, there are instances where medical advice and intervention is required. Seeking medical advice early on is the best course of action, especially if the severity of the symptom(s) is impacting negatively on your health and well being.
For More Information
The Acessa System from Acessa Health is specifically designed to treat all the fibroids, and just the fibroids, while preserving the patient’s uterus. For more information or to locate a physician who provides treatment using the Acessa System, please call us at 877-412-3828 or fill out our Contact form.