Uterine fibroids are tumors that are almost always benign, and can grow in various parts of your uterus including within the uterine wall and in the uterine cavity. Uterine fibroids can vary in terms of size and shape and create pressure on your bladder, small intestine or cause the uterus to grow abnormally. Uterine fibroids can also grow so large that they can block the uterine opening, in which case a cesarean section may be required. Symptoms of uterine fibroids include heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent urination, backaches, infertility, pelvic and/or abdominal pain and constipation.
Uterine fibroids occur most commonly in women between the ages of 30 and 50. Health risks associated with uterine fibroids include having a history of uterine fibroids and being of African American descent.
Uterine fibroids can usually be spotted during a standard pelvic exam. If treatment is necessary, those with uterine fibroids can either have a myomectomy, which involves the removal of the fibroids but still being able to conceive afterwards, or a hysterectomy, wherein the uterus is completely removed. Women with uterine fibroids can also undergo a uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a procedure that targets the fibroids and blocks the blood vessels that feed them. Other treatments involve medications that work to lower estrogen levels within the body.
Some ways to reduce the symptoms associated with uterine fibroids include the use of heating pads, hot water bottles, plenty of rest, prescription pain medication and either taking a supplement rich in iron or eating foods that are high in iron. Iron helps to reduce the risk of developing anemia caused by a heavy menstrual flow.