Understanding Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow inside the uterus and vary in shape and size. The abnormal growth may shrink, enlarge, or remain the same size. However, there are some misconceptions and myths about uterine fibroids that require clarification. Some women present with symptoms such as bleeding, pain, and discomfort while others are asymptomatic. No matter the signs or symptoms, there are some myths about fibroids that require debunking.

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1. Uterine fibroids are malignant and increase cancer risk

The first misconception is that fibroids in the uterus are known to be cancerous. A fibroid in the uterus is a tumor of the muscle that arises from the uterine wall. A fibroid is not malignant and does not make a woman at risk of developing uterine cancer. The main cause of fibroids is not known, but hormones such as estrogen and genetics may play a role. Fibroids are also very common. Many women of reproductive age have uterine fibroids.

2. Hysterectomy is the only treatment

The removal of the uterus, called hysterectomy, is not the only treatment for uterine fibroids. There are other surgical and conservative options available to help women with fibroids. Some other surgical options include myomectomy, myolysis, endometrial ablation, and uterine artery embolization. The non-surgical methods include anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and hormonal treatment to control bleeding or to shrink the fibroid. The doctor will decide on the right treatment depending on many factors such as severity, location, size, symptoms, and age.

3. Fibroids prevent a woman from having children

A woman with uterine fibroids may still successfully become pregnant. The ability to conceive depends on the location and size of the fibroid. If one has been diagnosed with fibroids and would like to conceive, consulting with a fertility specialist is imperative. A fibroid formed during pregnancy does not usually grow but sometimes fibroids may grow in the first trimester. The treatment depends on the patient’s situation and associated symptoms.

Other known myths to be aware of

There are many other misconceptions about uterine fibroids that one should know. Uterine fibroids can affect women of any age and not just 30- or 40-year-old women. Women of African descent are more at risk of developing uterine fibroids. The symptoms are not universal and one needs to seek medical help if symptoms could point to a uterine fibroid. Whenever there is a doubt about uterine fibroids during any phase, speak to a healthcare provider for evaluation and possible treatment.

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