Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths in the uterus made up of muscular and fibroid tissue. Fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomata, may either grow as a single tumor or in clusters. A single fibroid may vary immensely in size from less than an inch, like a small apple seed, to eight inches across or more, like a large grapefruit.
On the basis of their location in the uterus, fibroids can be divided into three groups:
- Subserosal Fibroids - These grow on the outer covering of the uterus.
- Intramural Fibroids - These grow within the muscular wall of the uterus.
- Submucosal Fibroids - These grow just underneath the uterine lining.
Fibroid tumors of the uterus are very common, occurring in about 20% to 40% of women who are 35 years of age or older. African-American women are at a higher risk; as many as 50% of them have fibroids of significant size.
Some Typical Symptoms of Fibroid Tumors
Studies have revealed that 30% to 50% of women who have uterine fibroids experience no symptoms and continue to carry out their day-to-day activities with ease, but in about 25% of women, fibroids tumors are quite symptomatic. In some women, the symptoms of uterine fibroids are so severe that they find it difficult to maintain a good quality of life.
A wide variety of symptoms can accompany fibroids. However, fibroids are not the only reason why a woman may experience some of these symptoms. Therefore, it is important to seek out a proper diagnosis from your doctor is you are bothered by any of these symptoms.
Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding is one of the most common symptoms of fibroids. Often, women who have large or multiple fibroids encounter such problems as
- Finding it difficult to leave the house on the their menstrual flow is heaviest
- Quickly filling a sanitary napkin, making it necessary to change menstrual pads frequently, even as often as every hour
- A long bleeding period.
- Passing blood clots
All these instances indicate the presence of uterine fibroids.
It is important to note that excessive or prolonged bleeding can result in a condition called anaemia, which is characterized by fatigue, headache and lightheadedness. Anemia requires the use of prescribed iron supplements to restore depleted iron levels.