Fibroids are also called myomas, fibromyomas or leiomyomas.
Uterine fibroids are the most common type of benign growth that affects the uterus. It affects about 70% white women and more than 80% black women.
The female reproductive system is made up of the following parts:
The uterus is made up of three layers – The innermost layer is called the endometrium, the second layer, myometrium and the third layer, the serosa. Every month, the endometrial layer is built, and thickens in preparation to accept the fertilised egg for implantation and provide nourishment to the growing embryo, until birth. If the egg does not get fertilised, the layer of tissue that is formed sloughs off and passes out in the form of your monthly period.
Uterine fibroids usually cause problems during your periods. They can be very painful, affect your fertility and cause complications during your pregnancy.
Fibroids are categorised by their location, which include:
Uterine fibroids may be caused by:
The risk factors for uterine fibroids are:
In many cases, fibroids are asymptomatic. Symptoms may include:
Uterine fibroids can be associated with anaemia, urinary problems, miscarriage, premature labour and infertility. Fibroids can prompt the growth of polyps in the uterine lining (endometrium). A polyp is a small protrusion that looks like a tiny ball on the end of a slim stalk. Endometrial polyps can also contribute to menstrual problems, such as excessive bleeding and pain.
Fibroids can be detected using an ultrasound, where sound waves create a two-dimensional picture. The inside of the uterus can be examined with a hysteroscope, which is a thin tube passed through the cervix. A small camera may be placed at the tip of the hysteroscope, so that the interior of the uterus can be viewed on a monitor.