Fibroids are abnormal growth tissues that develop inside or on the uterus of a woman. Sometimes, they can be small and show no symptoms of any kind. Some times, they can grow very large in size and cause severe abdominal pain, heavy bleeding during mestruation. What actually causes fibroids is not known to modern science till date. But what is known is that fibroid growth is often influenced by hormal changes, life style choices and genetics (inheritance).
Fibroids are also called ‘leiomyomas’, ‘myomas’, ‘uterine myomas’ or ‘fibromas’.
Depending on the location where these fibroids occur, they are classified into 4 different types:
- Intramural Fibroids
- Subserosal Fibroids
- Pedunculated Fibroids
- Submucosal Fibroids
Intramural fibroids are non-cancerous tumours that grow in the muscles of the uterus. (inside). Typically, these grow within the uterus walls and they can grow to a large size if not treated at right time. There can be many of these fibroids in the same location. Urologists are not really sure about what causes these fibroids but they believe that ‘abnormal cells’ in the wall of the uterus can result in formation of fibroids.
Typical age of a woman when they can expect fibroids is 18 to 35 years. As not many fiboroids show symptoms, many women don’t even know that they have fibroids. Based on the location in the uterus, Intramural Fibroids are classified into 3 categrories:
- Anterior Intramural Fibroids – This forms in the front of the uterus.
- Posterior Intramural Fibroids – This forms on the back of the uterus.
- Fundal Intramural Fibroids – this forms in the upper part of the uterus.
This is a benign (non cancerous) tumor that grows on the outside of the uterus. These fibroids may be directly attached to the uterus or they may be hanging to the uterus through a thin stalk. The size of these fibroids can vary from person to person and also their location on the uterus. They can grow from the size of a grape to the size of a grape fruit as there is no restriction of space outside the uterus.
As the subserosal fibroids are present ‘outside’ the uterus, the symptoms experienced will be different from those that are experienced by people who has fibroids ‘inside’ the uterus. Some symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Abdominal Pain or cramps
- A feeling of fullness or heaviness
- Constipation or bloating.
Very uncommon type of fibroids that grow in the uterine wall and the uterus. These fibroids often cause more bleeding than the other types of fibroids. Good side of this type of fibroids is that, the person experiences symptoms even when they are small. (Can be treated before they become large unlike Subserosal Fibroids).
Submucosal fibroids is one major reason for pregnancy issues and fertility problems in women. Women experience heavy menstrual bleeding and for more number of days than usual when they have submucosal fibroids growing in them. Once you present yourself to your urologist, he/she may put you under observation for some time with just medication and if needed, he/she may recommend a surgery (‘Myomectomy’) to remove fibroids. In order to determine if the fibroids are cancer tumors or just fibroids, your urologist may also take a biopsy of the fibroid.
Subserosal fibroids as mentioned can grow directly on the uterus or they may grow thin stalks that connect them to the uterus. The subserosal fibroids that grow with stalks are called ‘Pedunculated Fibroids’. They cause severe pain when the stalk gets twisted for reasons unknown. The symptoms caused by these fibroids are more or less the same as mentioned for Subserosal fibroids.