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Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are a common issue of the female reproductive system. While as many as 70 to 80% of women will have fibroids by the age of 50, most people are unaware that it disproportionately affects a particular demographic. Black women are more likely to be affected by fibroids than any other race and it is thought to also develop more frequently in women from African-Caribbean regions, for reasons yet unknown.

Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths that develop in or around the uterus. They can vary in size from as small as a pea to as big as a watermelon! Oftentimes, women aren’t aware that they even have fibroids as they can be small and have no symptoms. Experiencing symptoms from your fibroids are influenced by the location, size and number of fibroids present.

Common signs and symptoms associated with uterine fibroids are heavy and long lasting periods, painful periods, pelvic pain, frequent urination and possible difficulty with urination, constipation, pain or discomfort during sex and back or leg pain. These symptoms will typically be identified during your childbearing age (16-50 years) and your doctor may identify their existence during a pelvic exam or an ultrasound.

The exact cause of fibroids is unknown however they have been linked to hormone changes, heredity and obesity. If you have discovered that you have fibroids but you are not experiencing any symptoms it is very likely that they can go untreated and be monitored periodically. After menopause, fibroids tend not to grow further and may sometimes even shrink as there is no further estrogen being produced from the ovaries.

Treatment of fibroids is usually geared towards treating the symptoms and can be medical, minimally invasive or surgical (stay tuned for treatment options in the next blog!).

Fibroids are very common and very easily treated. While they are an issue affecting the reproductive system, they do not typically interfere with fertility and pregnancy. More severe fibroids can, however, cause more complications during pregnancy and delivery including a preterm pregnancy and bleeding after delivery. If you have any concerns about how your fibroids may affect you getting pregnant or the delivery of your current pregnancy, talk to your doctor about the risk and what you can do to make your pregnancy more comfortable for both you and your baby.



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