Uterine FibroidsGuest Post By Dr. Miriam D. Martin
Fibroid tumors are benign growths originating in the uterus. The incidence of uterine fibroid tumors increases as women grow older, and they may occur in more than 30 percent of women 40 to 60 years of age. (American Family Physician 2007) Most women have no symptoms related to these tumors. However, there are some, who unfortunately, face a myriad of signs and symptoms related to fibroids.
The most common symptom is abnormal uterine bleeding. The periods may be heavier and/or longer. Spotting may occur between the normal menstrual cycle. There may be severe pain (dysmenorrhea) associated with fibroids as well. If the bleeding is excessive or prolonged, iron deficiency anemia may develop.
Depending on the size and location of the fibroids, additional symptoms and conditions may develop.
These may include:
- pelvic pain
- abdominal pressure
- back pain
- urinary obstruction
- painful defecation
|Click here for our complete line of fertility bracelets|
- Genetic alterations. Many fibroids contain alterations in genes that code for uterine muscle cells.
- Hormones. Estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that stimulate development of the uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy, appear to promote the growth of fibroids. Fibroids contain more estrogen and estrogen receptors than do normal uterine muscle cells.
- Other chemicals. Substances that help the body maintain tissues, such as insulin-like growth factor, may affect fibroid growth.
- Obesity. Some studies have suggested that obese women are at higher risk of fibroids, but other studies have not shown a link.
- Oral contraceptives. So far, strong data exist showing that women who take oral contraceptives have a lower risk of fibroids. This is generally true for all women, except those who start oral contraceptives between ages 13 and 16.
- Pregnancy and childbirth. Researchers have also looked at whether pregnancy and giving birth may have a protective effect, and so far pregnancy and childbirth seem to have a protective effect.
Diagnosis of uterine fibroids is generally made during gynecologic physical examination. The examiner may feel a mass or note enlargement of the uterus. Confirmation of the diagnosis can be made with ultrasound.
In general, uterine fibroids cause no symptoms and require no treatment. Until recently, the mainstay of treatment for fibroids was hormonal therapy or surgery. Since uterine fibroids are stimulated by estrogens, anti-estrogen hormones are used to shrink the tumors. However, there are many side affects to hormone therapy, i.e., osteoporosis, menopausal symptoms. As a result, hormone therapy is only used for a short time and the fibroids tend to recur once the therapy is discontinued.
The two main surgical interventions are hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), and myomectomy (removal of the tumors). Newer advances in the treatment of fibroids and their symptoms are uterine artery embolization (blocking of blood flow to uterine vessels leading to shrinking of the tumors) and endometrial ablation (destruction of the uterine lining).
If you are experiencing symptoms from uterine fibroids, discuss your options with your health professional. There are many options, other than hysterectomy available. Undoubtedly, with continued research, other techniques are on the horizon as well.
Dr. Miriam Martin is the Medical Director of MD Medical, Inc. located in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Her areas of specialization include Emergency Medicine/Family Practice, and Bariatric (weight loss) Medicine. The center focuses on the the physical, psychological, and nutritional health and well-being of individuals and families.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Dr._Miriam_D._Martin/644888