A fibroid is a type of tumor or growth that can be found in a woman’s uterus or ovaries. Fibroids are generally benign, meaning that it is usually not associated with the development of cancer. Around half of all women have some type of fibroid; however, most fibroids will not cause any symptoms, leaving many women unaware that they even have them until they are encountered by a doctor during a routine pelvic exam. Fibroids are also known by the medical community as Myoma, Leiomyoma and Fibromyoma.
The 5 different types
Fibroids are classified into five separate types depending on where they are located…
- Intracavity myomas: These types of growths are located inside the cavity of the uterus and may cause bleeding in between periods along with painful cramping. If intracavity myomas prove to be troublesome, they can usually be removed through a process known as a hysteroscopic resection
- Submucous myomas: These benign tumors can be found growing partly in the cavity and partly in the uteran wall and can also cause pain and bleeding between periods. They can also be removed via hysteroscopic resection.
- Unless they get oversized and bothersome, these tumors generally do not cause any symptoms and usually do not need to be treated. Most women will not even know that they have them.
- Subseros myomas: The fibroids are found growing on the outside of the uterine wall.
- Pendunculated myomas: These are fibroids that are attached to uterus by a stem or stalk. These type of fibroids are generally easiest to remove through the use of a laparoscopy.
Fibroids can come in many different sizes from pea sized growths to giant tumors that can make a woman look five months pregnant. The growth rate of fibroids can also vary greatly. Some will stay the same small size for years, while others will grow at a rapid rate quickly becoming a problem. Sometimes pregnancy can end up causing preexisting fibroid to three to five fold bigger than it previously was. This is thought to happen due to the increase levels of estrogen present in the body during a pregnancy as well as other pregnancy related factors that contribute to the increase in size. These fibroids will generally shrink back to their previous size after the pregnancy. While some fibroids grow with pregnancy, other fibroids can make it difficult for pregnancy to happen. The most common sympyoms associated with fibroids are pelvic pain and heavy menstrual bleeding.
80% of women over the age of 50 have uterine fibroids and if you include the smallest of growths, some studies suggest that all women have them by the time they reach menopause. Most women that have fibroids generally have more than one type and sometimes there can be many as fifty different fibroids present. In fact, a solitary fibroid is much less likely than multiple ones. Some menopausal women have shown a slow increase in the size of their fibroids when they take extra estrogen while others have noticed no change at all.
At a 1:750-1000 chance, cancer rarely develops in a fibroid. Some data even suggests that cancer will not form in a preexisting fibroid but develop instead in a a part of a uterus that is not a fibroid.
Forms of treatment:
Hysteroscopic resection: this process involves a doctor inserting a tool into the cervix that has a camera attached to it which allows the doctor to spot any fibroids. The doctor can then used a feature on the tool that produces an electrical current in order to kill the fibroid tissue.
Hormone therapy: Hormones can also be used to shrink fibroids
Hysterectomy: This is considered a last result and will only be done if the fibroids are causing a lot of pain and bleeding and nothing else can be done.
Speaking to your doctor about your symptoms and getting the right kind of tests will help determine which type of treatment is ideal for you.