Uterine fibroids: symptoms and alarm bells

Benign tumors, often asymptomatic, which in some cases can have a strong impact on the woman’s life

They are benign tumors, often asymptomatic, but in some cases can have a strong impact on the woman’s life.

One woman in four suffers from uterine fibroids: there are those who do not notice it, and those who have very annoying disorders, capable of significantly worsening their quality of life.

In both cases, however, they are often diagnosed even years after their appearance.

Benign and often silent tumors

Uterine fibroids are tumors of a benign nature that develop as a result of abnormal (but not malignant) proliferation of the muscle tissue of the uterus.

It can also form more than one at a time, but the characteristics that most affect the presence or absence of symptoms and their severity are the site where they are located and their size.

In any case, the chances of them turning into a malignant tumor, and in particular a sarcoma, are extremely low.

Different symptoms depending on the location

The different types of uterine fibroids are distinguished according to the location, on which the symptoms and the therapeutic choice will also depend to a large extent.

Subserous fibroids develop in the outer wall of the uterus, protruding into the abdominal cavity. These are usually asymptomatic forms, which can be discovered by chance during a gynecological examination, when the fibroid has already reached considerable size. In these cases, however, it is possible that pressure on other organs causes the onset of pain.

The intramural ones, on the other hand, grow within the muscle tissue of the uterine wall: they are the most common and their growth can change the shape and volume of the uterus, giving rise to pelvic pain, increased bleeding during the menstrual cycle and the need to urinate frequently.

Finally, the rarest are submucosal fibroids, which are located inside the uterine cavity, below the endometrium: in this case it is frequent that, even if small, they cause very abundant, long-lasting and much more painful menstruation than normal.

Both submucosal and subserous ones can also be pedunculated, i.e. attached to the uterine wall (respectively internal or external) by means of a thin peduncle.

If the fibroid twists on the pedicle, extremely acute abdominal pain may occur, which may require the intervention of a surgeon.

Menstruation so abundant and painful as to worsen the quality of life

About half of the fibroids are symptomatic, and in that case they can even be disabling.

The manifestation that most affects the quality of life of women is the abundant bleeding during the menstrual cycle, which has a very strong impact on both health and personal life.

Heavy bleeding can in fact cause a state of anemia, which in turn can cause weakness, asthenia, iron deficiency and hair loss. This long series of symptoms can greatly affect mood, and in some cases result in a real depression, which can have negative effects especially on the sexual, work and interpersonal sphere.

Do not underestimate your symptoms and report them to the gynecologist, in addition to regularly undergoing specialist visits, it is therefore very important to diagnose a possible fibroid as soon as possible and evaluate if, and how, to treat it by choosing from the many therapeutic options available.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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