What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are solid tumors made up of muscle and connective tissue that grow along the walls of the uterus. In over 99% of cases, fibroids do not result in cancer; if you do have fibroids, that does not mean that you have a higher risk of developing uterine cancer.
While the exact cause of uterine fibroids isn’t yet clear, medical experts believe that each tiny tumor starts from one abnormal muscle cell in your uterus. This cell rapidly divides and multiplies when your estrogen levels are higher during fertile years, ultimately causing the benign tumor.
Are there symptoms of fibroids?
Yes, although you may or may not experience them. The most common complaint is severe pain and cramping. When you have fibroids, you could also have:
Abnormally heavy periods
Pain during sexual intercourse
Lower back pain
Spotting or bleeding between periods
If you do have heavy periods as a result of fibroids, you could have low iron levels. Low iron, known as anemia, leaves you feeling fatigued and causes frequent chills.
How are fibroids treated?
Typically, uterine fibroids can be felt during a manual examination. If one is found, Dr. Brooks will then order imaging for you to proceed with the diagnosis. Most fibroids are completely harmless and require no treatment at all. However if your fibroids cause excessive pain, affect your fertility, or result in heavy periods, Dr. Brooks will help you find a solution. Dr. Brooks can use non-surgical methods to shrink the fibroid and preserve your uterus. Or, if needed, she can remove the fibroid with a laparoscopic surgical procedure on an outpatient basis.
Why do some women get uterine fibroids?
Because uterine fibroids affect as much as half of the female population, your chances of dealing with one at some point are high. Your risk of fibroids is even higher when you’re approaching menopause because you have been through years of high estrogen levels during fertility. Your chances of developing fibroids also increase if you:
Are overweight or obese
Are African American
Have never delivered a baby