Fibroids are growths or tumors in or around the uterus (usually in the wall of the uterus) that are rarely cancerous. The reason they develop is unknown. They are made up of muscle and fibrous (contains fibers) tissue.
Fibroids occur three (3) times more often in African-American women than White women, and more than 20 percent of all women above 35 years of age have fibroids. They can range in size from a pea to a cantaloupe or watermelon. Most fibroids don’t need treatment, but a woman who has them should be examined at least once a year. Although fibroids can usually be removed alone (called myomectomy), if they block urinary or bowel function, or are too large for myomectomy treatment, hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) may be necessary.
The myomectomy versus hysterectomy decision can be a real challenge. Common symptoms that may influence a woman’s decision are: heavy or prolonged bleeding with menstrual periods, pressure, abdominal swelling, pelvic pain, and painful intercourse. Fibroids may cause complications of pregnancy, including first trimester miscarriage depending on their location. In some cases, one or more new fibroids may develop after myomectomy. Some experts indicate that if there are no or minor symptoms, the best thing to do is probably nothing. Since estrogen stimulates the growth of fibroids, a woman nearing or in menopause, when estrogen production decreases, may decide to wait it out. That’s because Fibroids tend to shrink or disappear after menopause.