Ovarian fibroids, or uterine fibroids (also known as myoma), are abnormal growths which attach themselves to the outer part of the ovary or in the uterus. They are the most common benign tumor and is the dominant indication for hysterectomies in the United States. Many women have them; in fact 15-20% of women of reproductive age will be affected by fibroids. Sadly, the group most likely to be affected are women in their thirties and forties; a time when many women are anxiously seeking to become pregnant. The good news is that the majority of women with ovarian fibroids do not have any problems with them and in fact, many do not even know they have them. They usually disappear on their own and don’t constitute danger unless they increase in size thereby putting pressure on the organ to which they are attached, causing pain.
Causes of Ovarian Fibroids
The causes of ovarian fibroids is not certain but doctors think it could be caused by:
- Hormonal imbalance (there appears to be a strong link between the female hormone, estrogen, and the growth of fibroids.)
- The food you eat
- Genetic composition
- Exposure to certain kinds of pesticides
Symptoms of Ovarian Fibroids
The symptoms can vary from person to person. Most often ovarian fibroids are asymptomatic and painless except in cases where they grow large. Note that fibroids can range in size from microscopic to the size of a basketball. When symptoms are present, the most common are:
- Bleeding between menstrual periods
- Abdominal pain
- Heavy bleeding during menstrual period
- Pelvic pain
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Tenderness in the abdomen, which could be one sided
- Pain in the lower back
- Dull pain in the upper part of the legs
Basically doctors prefer to monitor the patient closely before taking action because as mentioned above, the growths don’t usually cause pain until they grow large. However there are several ways of treating ovarian fibroids, some of which are:
- Hormone therapy – This could be by administering birth control pills to change the hormonal levels so as to shrink the growth and even prevent it from recurring.
- Change of diet – If the blood sugar level of a woman is too high, it can cause hormonal imbalance. Eating foods that are high in fiber like oats, foods that are rich in isoflavones and lignans, foods that are low in sugar, and lots of fresh vegetables and fruits can help lower blood sugar, relieve the pressure caused by the weight of the growth and move waste out of the body.
- Water – Drinking lots of water assists in flushing out toxins and unwanted waste from the body.
- Herbs – Herbal teas and natural herbs are known to help relieve the symptoms associated with ovarian fibroids. One such herb is tripterygium.
- Ultrasound treatment – Using an MRI machine, the location of the ovarian fibroids are determined and a high-energy ultrasound is trained on it so that the heat from the ultrasound will kill the growth tissues.
- Surgery – This is the last method resorted to by doctors and it is used when the growth has become too large and is causing severe blood loss and pain.
A woman that is experiencing any of the symptoms of ovarian fibroids needs to see a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will discuss options of treatment with her and the one that is best for her condition.