The uterus, a pear-shaped organ pivotal in the female reproductive system, nestles between the bladder and the large intestine. Its structure includes the cervix, which connects to the vagina, and the fallopian tubes, which link the uterus to the ovaries. Uterine fibroids, also known as myomas, are non-cancerous growths in the uterus's inner muscles, varying greatly in size.

Types of Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids can be as diminutive as a matchstick head or as large as a watermelon. They develop in different uterine layers:

  • Intramural Fibroids: Grow within the uterine wall.
  • Subserosal Fibroids: Form outside the uterus.
  • Submucosal Fibroids: Develop under the uterine lining, protruding into the cavity.

Potential Causes

The exact cause of uterine fibroids remains unknown, but hereditary factors may play a role. These fibroids are more prevalent in black women than in white or Asian women, commonly appearing in women aged 30-50. Early menstruation (before age 12) may increase the risk. There's no established link between contraceptive pills, hormone replacement therapy, and fibroid development. However, conditions like high blood pressure might raise the risk by 24%.

Symptoms to Watch For

Symptoms vary based on the fibroid's type, size, and location. Larger fibroids can cause:

  • Extended, heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Enhanced period pain and lower abdomen or back pressure.
  • Palpable growths, sometimes visible, mimic early pregnancy.
  • Urinary issues due to pressure on the bladder.
  • Constipation or abdominal pressure from intestinal compression.
  • Rarely, rapid growth leads to malignancy.
  • Uncommonly, painful intercourse, infertility, and increased risk of miscarriage.

Diagnostic Procedures

  • Physical examination (external and internal).
  • Ultrasound (abdominal or transvaginal).
  • CT or MRI scans.
  • Hysteroscopy.
  • Laparoscopy.
  • Hysterosalpingography.

Treatment Options

  • Monitoring and medication for small fibroids, supplemented with regular ultrasounds and anaemia checks.
  • Medication to manage excessive bleeding.
  • Myomectomy.
  • Hysterectomy, typically for severe cases where childbearing is no longer a goal.
  • Evaluating the risks and benefits of each treatment is crucial.

Preventive Measures

  • Regular health screenings and annual physical exams.
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking to prevent cancer.
  • Seek medical advice for abnormal periods, severe menstrual pain, noticeable abdominal masses, unexplained bloating, or distension.
  • Consume a low-fat diet to regulate estrogen levels.
  • Maintain a healthy weight; obesity increases disease risk.
  • Regular exercise (four to five times weekly) for weight management and hormonal balance.