Fibroid tumors, also called uterine fibroid tumors, are non-cancerous growths that form inside and on the wall of the uterus. Fibroid tumors are more common after the age of 30 and in African-American women. One in five women have fibroid tumors during their childbearing years, according to the National Institute of Health. The hormone estrogen seems to play a part in the cause of fibroid tumors.
The exact cause of the formation of fibroids is unknown. Fibroids have been found to start forming when a girl starts menstruating and the hormone estrogen is released into the body. Fibroids begin to shrink when menopause starts and estrogen is no longer produced in the body, indicating a potential link between estrogen and fibroid tumors.
There are different types of fibroid tumors including submucous fibroids, which form below the lining of the uterus and cause pain during menstruation. Intramural fibroids are round tumors inside the uterine wall and may enlarge the uterus as they grow. Subserous fibroid tumors grow on the outside wall of the uterus and may affect nearby organs. Pendunculated fibroids are formed when subserous fibroids grow stalks. These stalks can twist and cause severe pain.
Often there are no symptoms with fibroid tumors, but when symptoms are experienced they include bleeding between periods, stomach fullness, pelvic cramping, heavy bleeding during periods, frequent urination and pressure in the lower stomach.
Treatment for fibroid tumors depends on if you are pregnant, your age, the type of fibroid and how severe the symptoms are. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Advil and Motrin help alleviate pain. Birth control pills help relieve menstruating pain and heavy periods.
Surgery may be recommended for large fibroid tumors that cause severe pain. A hysteroscopic resection involves inserting a camera and surgical instruments through the cervix into the uterus and removing fibroid tumors. A myomectomy also is a removal of fibroids, but can normally preserve fertility. A hysterectomy may be needed if medications or other surgeries are not successful.
Fibroid tumors may cause problems with fertility when a fibroid prevents sperm from fertilizing eggs by blocking fallopian tubes. Fibroids inside the uterus may cause premature delivery because there is not enough room in the uterus for the baby to grow. A cesarean section delivery may be necessary if a fibroid tumor is blocking the birth canal.
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