Uterine fibroids are common and usually harmless when small. However, they can be a source of stress when they become larger, especially for those women who are trying to conceive. If left untreated, fibroids can increase the risk of several complications, such as back pain, headaches, nausea, and excessive bleeding. Fortunately, there are ways to treat uterine fibroids that also make them less likely to recur. If you think that you may have fibroids or need to conduct a routine fibroid check, visit the doctors at Access Vascular Health: Michelle Maneevese, MD, for examination. Early detection and treatment of uterine fibroids will help you avoid the severe symptoms and complications they cause when the tumors grow bigger.
The good news is that many uterine fibroids cases resolve on their own in about a year without any treatment at all. But, if they do not improve or get worse after that time frame, your doctor may suggest removing them surgically. Read on for more information about what may happen if fibroids are not treated.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that consist of muscle cells and grow on or in the uterus. This medical condition is very common, and some research findings record that most women will develop uterine fibroids at one point in their lives. Thankfully, the tumors of fibroids are noncancerous; hence, they do not cause serious complications associated with cancerous tumors. However, fibroids can grow as large as 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter, and they can be as little as 1mm. In addition, uterine fibroids can develop as a cluster or as a single nodule in the uterus.
Furthermore, there are various types of uterine fibroids named based on where they develop in the uterine;
- Submucosal fibroids are those fibroids that grow into the uterine cavity.
- Intramural fibroids develop in the wall muscles of the uterine.
- Pedunculated fibroids are those that implant themselves to the inner uterus or outer uterus with a thin stalk.
- Subserosal fibroids are the fibroids that grow out from the uterine wall into the pelvic cavity.
Causes Of Uterine Fibroids Growth
They are typically found in women between the ages of 20 and 40, and they are most common in women who are overweight, have a family history of uterine fibroids or have high blood pressure. According to findings, uterine fibroids are triggered or associated with the following;
Fibroid growth is said to be associated with the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are usually in high levels before menopause, and they tend to stimulate the growth of fibroids. However, according to findings, fibroids tend to shrink when women reach menopause; this is because, at this stage, the body secretes less progesterone and estrogen hormones.
Fibroids can also develop when the muscle cells in the uterus multiply excessively. The increasing development of these muscle cells can cause lump formation in the inner or outer lining of the uterine wall.
What Happens When Uterine Fibroids Are Untreated
Uterine fibroids are often asymptomatic and may not be detected at the early growth stage in most women. Nevertheless, whether the tumors grow larger or small, some women can begin to experience serious symptoms such as;
- Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Heavy menstrual bleeding is one of the severe symptoms associated with large-sized uterine fibroids. This can be caused by the increased pressure on the uterus from the tumor, which causes it to become enlarged and puts pressure on other organs in the abdomen. The increased pressure forces blood out of the vagina more quickly than normal, resulting in a heavier flow during menstruation.
Some women with fibroids find it difficult to conceive due to the presence of these tumors in the uterus. Fibroids may cause anovulation (the absence of ovulation) by blocking the fallopian tubes and preventing eggs from reaching the uterus for fertilization. Fibroids can also prevent fertilized eggs from implanting into the uterus because the tumors have occupied the space meant for egg implantation. That’s not all; in pregnant women, fibroids can change the position of the baby and increase the risk of preterm delivery, miscarriage, and cesarean section.
- Painful Intercourse
Painful sex is frequently brought on by uterine fibroids that are positioned close to the cervix. During sexual activity, pressure applied to these fibroids can result in anything from mild uneasiness to excruciating pain.
The severity of symptoms varies from woman to woman, and symptoms usually worsen during menstruation and pregnancy when there is increased pressure on the uterus from within and without.