Contributed by: Rachana Arya
You may have heard a variety of uterine fibroids misconceptions throughout the years. While fibroids are common, they’re also surrounded by many common myths. That’s why it’s critical for women with fibroids to distinguish between fibroid myths and reality before deciding on a treatment plan.
Read on to learn the truth about these common uterine fibroid myths.
Myth #1: Fibroids are cancerous growths in the uterus
No! Fibroids, also known as leiomyomas (lie-o-my-O-muhs) or myomas, are benign (non-cancerous) growths that develop in over 20% of women of reproductive age. Most often, they are unrelated to uterine cancer. They do tend to create unpleasant symptoms thereby impacting the quality of life, but they are rarely fatal. And having uterine fibroids doesn’t increase the chances of getting other forms of cancer.
Myth #2: If you have fibroids, you can’t get pregnant
Due to the widespread myths and lack of awareness on the subject, many patients assume there is a link between fibroids and infertility. The fibroid-fertility connection is a frequent misconception; however, this is not the case. Although some research suggests a link between fibroids and infertility, this does not imply that every woman with fibroids is automatically rendered infertile. Only about 1-2% of fibroids affect your ability to conceive. Infertility can be caused by a variety of underlying factors like hormonal imbalances, poor egg or sperm quality, etc.
Myth #3: Fibroids only affect middle-aged women
Yet another common myth surrounding fibroids is that uterine fibroids only affect elderly women and those in menopause. But that is far from the truth. Although a majority of fibroids are most common in women of childbearing age, they can arise at any age. Uterine fibroids can affect you in your 20s and 30s. Uterine fibroids are no longer reserved for just women over 40 years of age.
Myth #4: Fibroids must always be surgically removed
Another prevalent misconception about fibroids is that hysterectomy is the only solution available to treat fibroids, which is not the case. A vast majority of people with asymptomatic fibroids do not require surgery or other treatments. Your doctor will advise you against undergoing an operation to remove the fibroids if they are harmless. However, if your doctor suspects that the fibroids are malignant or are impeding the release of eggs in the fallopian tubes, he may recommend surgical removal.
Myth #5: Fibroids continue to grow if left untreated
Uterine fibroids have a variety of growth patterns. Many women have tiny fibroids that don’t cause symptoms or expand. Some fibroids experience growth spurts, while others shrink on their own. Some fibroids can grow large enough to produce abdominal swelling in some cases, although not all fibroids do. Some fibroids may reach a particular size before stopping to develop. According to a study, the average growth of fibroid was 89% per 18 months. What this means is that a two-cms fibroid (about the size of a blueberry) will take 4-5 years to double its diameter. The same study also found that extremely small fibroids grow faster than larger fibroids.
Myth #6: If you have fibroids, you’ll have heavy menstrual bleeding (Menorrhagia)
Symptoms of fibroids depend on their size, their exact location within the uterus, and how close they are to adjacent pelvic organs. While heavy menstrual bleeding and painful periods are common symptoms for some women who have uterine fibroids, for others, they can contribute to a host of uncomfortable symptoms, such as:
- Difficult, frequent, or urgent urination or bowel movements
- Increased abdominal size
- Anemia due to blood loss
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Painful sex
- Pelvic pressure or pain.
- Pain in the legs
- Reproductive problems (which is in very rare cases)
Report any fibroid symptoms to your OBGYN as soon as possible. Fibroids aren’t life-threatening, although in their early stages, uterine cancer can be confused for fibroids.
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