I talk about my endometriosis journey often even though it’s pretty under control, however, I have not shared much about the fibroid situation I have dealt with for at least the last 2-2.5 years.
While remaining consistent with all of the lifestyle changes that helped my endometriosis and PCOS symptoms, I noticed an abundance of health improvements that brought me relief and joy. Unfortunately, despite these other improvements, I still had a fibroid that would not budge in size, causing significant issues for me including hemorrhaging and infertility.
Mine was a submucosal fibroid, the least common type, where the fibroid protrudes into the uterine cavity causing a myriad of symptoms for me, even before and after transitioning towards the ancestral lifestyle.
More recently, I shared my decision to finally have this fibroid removed via hysteroscopic myomectomy. While preparing for this procedure, I didn’t know much about them myself even though my maternal line has struggled with them for generations. The fact that 20-70% of women will develop fibroids during their reproductive years was enough for me to feel that this warranted its own blog post.
What are fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumors of the female genital tract and are often found in women of reproductive age.
Uterine fibroids, medically known as leiomyomas or myomas, are non-cancerous growths that develop in or on the walls of the uterus. These tumors can vary in size, ranging from tiny seedlings to large masses. Affecting a significant number of women, especially during their reproductive years, fibroids often come with a slew of symptoms, while others may not cause any noticeable signs. Delving deeper into fibroids can help demystify these common growths and shed light on the types that may affect women.
Types of Fibroids
1. Intramural Fibroids: These are the most common type of fibroids. They grow within the muscular wall of the uterus. Intramural fibroids can grow larger and stretch the uterus. They may cause symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and an enlarged abdomen.
2. Subserosal Fibroids: These fibroids develop on the outer surface of the uterus. Depending on their size and location, they can cause pain or pressure on other organs, including the bladder or rectum, leading to frequent urination or rectal pressure.
3. Pedunculated Fibroids: When fibroids grow on a stalk or stem-like structure attached to the uterus’s inner or outer wall, they are termed pedunculated fibroids. These can twist and cause sharp, severe pain.
4. Submucosal Fibroids: These types grow just beneath the inner lining of the uterus and can protrude into the uterine cavity. They are less common but can be particularly problematic as they might lead to heavy menstrual bleeding and fertility issues.
What Causes Fibroids?
While the exact cause remains unknown, several factors may influence their formation:
– Hormones: Estrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive hormones, stimulate the uterine lining’s growth during each menstrual cycle and may promote the growth of fibroids.
– Genetic Factors: If a woman’s mother or sister had fibroids, her risk of developing them is significantly higher.
– Other Growth Factors: Substances that aid the body in tissue repair and maintenance can affect fibroid growth.
Symptoms of Fibroids
Many women with fibroids don’t experience any symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they can include:
– Heavy menstrual bleeding
– Menstrual periods lasting more than a week
– Pelvic pain or pressure
– Frequent urination
– Backache or leg pains
– Difficulty emptying the bladder
– Enlarged abdomen
The Impact on Fertility and Pregnancy
There’s an ongoing debate on how fibroids might influence fertility and pregnancy. Some fibroids, especially submucosal ones, can impact the shape of the uterine cavity, potentially affecting embryo implantation. During pregnancy, fibroids might cause complications such as placental abruption, fetal growth restriction, and preterm delivery.
While fibroids are common, it’s crucial to understand their types and potential implications. Regular check-ups with a gynecologist and early detection can help manage symptoms and reduce complications. Women experiencing any unusual reproductive symptoms should consult with a healthcare provider to assess if fibroids or another condition might be the cause.
*Not medical advice
I had my fibroid removed with Viva Eve in New York City. They are fibroid specialists and a great resource for fibroids.