What are fibroids?
Fibroids are the most frequently seen tumors of the female reproductive system. Fibroids, also known as uterine myomas, leiomyomas, or fibromas, are firm, compact tumors that are made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue that develop in the uterus. It is estimated that between 20 to 50 percent of women of reproductive age have fibroids, although not all are diagnosed. Some estimates state that up to 30 to 77 percent of women will develop fibroids sometime during their childbearing years, although only about one-third of these fibroids are large enough to be detected by a physician during a physical examination.
In more than 99 percent of fibroid cases, the tumors are benign (non-cancerous). These tumors are not associated with cancer and do not increase a woman's risk for uterine cancer. They may range in size, from the size of a pea to the size of a softball or small grapefruit.
What causes fibroid tumors?
While it is not clearly known what causes fibroids, it is believed that each tumor develops from an aberrant muscle cell in the uterus, which multiplies rapidly because of the influence of estrogen.
Treatment for fibroids:
Since most fibroids stop growing or may even shrink as a woman approaches menopause, the physician may simply suggest "watchful waiting." With this approach, the physician monitors the woman's symptoms carefully to ensure that there are no significant changes or developments and that the fibroids are not growing.
In women whose fibroids are large or are causing significant symptoms, treatment may be necessary. Treatment will be determined by your physician(s) based on:
• your overall health and medical history
• extent of the disease
• your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
• expectations for the course of the disease
• your opinion or preference
• your desire for pregnancy