Just few days ago, actress Dipannita Sharma shocked everyone with her tweets on her “complicated fibroid-related surgery.” She said that it took six hours for her to come out of the operation theatre. For her, it was quite a “life event”. Apart from giving an update on her health, she also warned women not to ignore if they have fibroids. She said that there are a lot of myths surrounding fibroids, so at least start with a simple check up with a doctor. Let’s take a look at fibroids myths that women tend to believe in.
To know more about fibroids, HealthShots connected with Dr Seema Sharma, Head Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Daffodils by Artemis, Jaipur.
What are fibroids?
If women are still in their childbearing years, they should know that uterine fibroids are tumours that develop in the uterus or womb. It often appears during the reproductive phase. Dr Sharma says that they are of very common occurrence, and are normally non-cancerous with a very rare occurrence of cancer in them.
Causes of fibroids
The causes for development of fibroids are largely unknown, but genetics and prolonged exposure to estrogen may increase your risk of developing fibroids. They may be due to:
• Family history of fibroids
• Not having children.
• Early onset of menstruation
• Late age for menopause
• Vitamin D deficiency.
• Consuming diet lower in green vegetables, fruit and dairy and higher in red meat.
• Drinking alcohol, including beer.
Symptoms of fibroids
Symptoms of fibroids are mostly difficult to spot as they are generally not noticeable. They are found by chance during an examination or imaging or ultrasound. But some women with fibroids experience severe symptoms that interfere with their daily lives and later on they need treatment in the form of medicines or surgery. Common fibroid symptoms include:
• Heavy or prolonged periods
• Severe pain during periods
• Abdominal discomfort and/or fullness
• Pelvic pain
• Lower back pain
• Constipation or excessive straining when it comes to bowel movements.
• Pain during intimate contact
• Not able to get pregnant
• Complications during pregnancy
Dr Sharma says that in rare cases, women with fibroids need emergency treatment. Emergency care is needed if there is complaint of not able to pass urine, or if there is development of sharp and sudden pain in the abdomen that is unrelieved with pain medication. Severe vaginal bleeding with signs of anaemia like extreme fatigue and weakness also come under this category.
Do you need a surgery for fibroids?
If your fibroid is more than 10 cm, is causing intractable symptoms or interfering with fertility and medications aren’t working, you may require surgical treatment, says the expert.
Myths and facts about fibroids
There are many myths about fibroids and so, don’t trust them.
Myth 1. Fibroids are cancerous growths in nature
After being diagnosed with fibroids, most women ask if fibroids are cancerous. Fibroids are actually benign growths and not linked to uterine cancer, says the expert. They are usually not life-threatening even though you can face painful symptoms. Most women can manage their fibroids with medication or minimally invasive procedures.
Myth 2. Hysterectomy is the only effective way to treat uterine fibroids.
Hysterectomy is the procedure that involves complete removal of the uterus. Yes, in the past, hysterectomy was often the only option for women with uterine fibroids. But in current times, there are several non and minimally invasive alternatives to hysterectomy. Uterine fibroid embolization is one of the minimally invasive options that can treat uterine fibroids without actually removing the uterus.
Myth 3. Once fibroids are removed, they will not come back.
There is always a chance for new uterine fibroids to develop after treatment. On being diagnosed with fibroids, you will need to follow up with your doctor on a regular basis. If your fibroids come back again, you may be given a different form of treatment for shrinking or removing them.
Myth 4. If fibroids are not treated, they will continue to get bigger.
Fibroids can sometimes grow big enough to cause abdominal swelling, but not all of them get bigger. Some may grow to a certain size and then simply stop growing. Although rare, a fibroid may get degenerated and rupture. That’s when urgent medical attention is needed. It is not always possible to predict whether your fibroids will grow or not. If you have small, asymptomatic fibroids, your doctor may keep you on follow-ups and wait and watch for monitoring the fibroid.
Myth 5. Fibroids must be removed.
All fibroids not necessarily require removal. If fibroids cause severe pain, heavy bleeding or fertility issues, you’ll probably need treatment. But not all fibroids cause symptoms, and with asymptomatic fibroids, the risks of removal may outweigh the benefits.