What are fibroids?
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths found in or on the uterus that are made up of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They are also known as myomas or leiomyomas. According to their position in or on the uterus, fibroids are classified into three main types:
Intramural fibroids – the most common type of fibroid, which develop in the muscle wall of the womb
Subserosal fibroids – fibroids that develop on the outer uterine wall into the pelvis
Submucosal fibroids – fibroids that grow just under the surface of the uterine lining and grow into the uterine cavity
In some cases, subserosal or submucosal fibroids are attached to the womb with a narrow stalk of tissue. These are known as pedunculated fibroids.
Symptoms of fibroids include:
Heavy menstrual bleeding
Enlargement of the lower abdomen
Pelvic pressure or pain
Difficulty emptying the bladder
Pain during sex
Lower back and/or leg pain
Treatment options for fibroids depend on the size, number and location of the fibroids as well as the symptoms and complications that you may be experiencing. These options include:
Watchful waiting – the best option if you experience no signs or symptoms, or only mild signs and symptoms that you can live with.
Medications – to help treat symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pain.
Minimally invasive procedures – includes options such as uterine artery embolization which involves small particles being injected into the arteries supplying the uterus, which cuts off the blood supply to causing them to shrink and die.
Surgery – includes options such as a myomectomy which is a surgical procedure used to remove multiple fibroids or fibroids that are large.
Why is it important that we talk about fibroids?
Over their lifetime, 80% or more of Black women will develop fibroids. Black women are known to develop fibroids at a younger age, are more likely to develop larger and multiple fibroids, and tend to develop more severe symptoms. They are more likely to have severe pelvic pain and anemia due to heavy bleeding, and fibroids in black women are less likely to shrink after menopause.
Because most black women have fibroids at some point during their lives, the symptoms they experience might seem “normal” for them. Many girls are raised to believe painful, heavy periods are just a part of life. However, too many black women do not have an accurate idea of what normal really is and suffer needlessly before seeking treatment for their fibroids. If you are experiencing heavy, prolonged, painful periods, are passing blood clots during your period, experience pain with intercourse and/or your period causes interference in your relational, occupational, social and daily life, please seek medical assistance.
Ms. Odelia Thomas