What are fibroids? Fibroids are growths that may be found in the uterus. Made up of muscle and fibrous tissue, fibroids form when cells grow abnormally. Fibroids are found in 25% of all women in their 30s and 40s, and tend to appear in black women more than white women. Often, more than one fibroid is present, and they can vary in size from as small as a walnut or as big as an orange. Fibroids can affect a woman's ability to get pregnant and can increase the chances of a miscarriage. In less than 1% of women, they may indicate cancer. Most women with fibroids experience no symptoms. But some develop menstrual problems, such as: Menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding) Longer periods Bleeding between periods Anemia (due to high blood loss) Dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) How do you treat it? A pelvic exam can help determine if you have fibroids. Other tests include an ultrasonography (similar to the ultrasound) and a laparoscopy. Fibroids don't necessarily need to be removed. Your doctor might just continue monitoring them until they become a problem —which might never happen. If the fibroids grow or cause pain, they can be removed by surgery. Even after fibroid treatment, though, fibroids may reappear. Drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonists may also shrink the fibroids. But if a woman stops taking the medication, the fibroids might grow back. Since these drugs increase the risk for osteoporosis, they are mainly used for just a few months before surgery. How can you avoid them? No one knows for sure what causes fibroids, but high levels of estrogen affect them. Fibroids may get larger during pregnancy, and in women who take high-dose estrogen oral contraceptives. Lower dose estrogen oral contraceptives don't increase the size of fibroids, and may make them smaller and help reduce bleeding.
Learn about fibroids treatment and get helpful information about normal breast development at BeingGirl.com.