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If you’re a woman in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, you have a good chance of developing fibroids which are mostly non-cancerous growths in your uterus. Don’t be surprised that these growths may be painful and even debilitating for you while other women who have them may not even be aware they have fibroid. 

The point here is that majority of women will develop fibroids at some point in their lives, so if you do get them, you’re not alone. Now the big question: Could you have fibroids and not realize it? You need to know exactly how this applies to you. To star off, you probably need to ask, what exactly is a fibroid? Fibroids are growths of fibrous tissue in your uterus. Most of the time, they’re non-cancerous and nothing to worry about unless they affect your quality of life. They may be tiny or large enough to fill your entire abdominal cavity, in some cases fibroid may be as large as a nine-month pregnancy. 

Uterine fibroids can affect a woman of any age, but they are most prevalent in women between the ages of 40 and 50 years. Because uterine fibroid tumours are estrogen-dependent, meaning they thrive on your hormones, they rarely appear before menstruation starts, when as a female, your body begins producing estrogen. The extra estrogen that your body produces when you are pregnant encourages fibroid tumours to grow much more quickly. If you you happen to have fibroid tumours and you are able to postpone treatment until after menopause, the tumours often shrink on their own once estrogen production in your body reduces.

Some women have no symptoms, while others have severe pain and debilitating symptoms. Pain is the most common symptom reported. Depending on the size, location, and number of your fibroids, common symptoms include pelvic pain and pressure; excessive bleeding, including prolonged periods and clot passage, which can lead to anemia; abdominal swelling; pressure on the bladder, causing frequent urination; pressure on the bowel, causing constipation and bloating; and infertility. 

To go further, you need to know that all fibroids are not the same. While all fibroids are growths of muscular tissue in your uterus, they vary in location, shape, and size. For example, they can grow within your uterine wall or in your uterine cavity. Some of them are large and can affect the shape of your uterus and your ability to get pregnant. Others are tiny and don’t cause any problems.

Going further it may surprise you to learn that the primary cause of fibroids isn’t really known, what is established is that there are certain factors which can increase your risk of developing fibroid. Among these are factors that include genetic history. What this simply means is that if your other family members, like your mother or her sisters, or your own sisters, had fibroids. You are also at a higher risk, if for instance, your periods started at a very young age (before 12years), you are a habitual user of alcohol, you’re obese, and if you indulge in a diet high in red meat and low in green vegetables.

Fibroids contain more estrogen and progesterone receptors than normal uterine tissue. So each month as these hormones stimulate your uterus to prepare for pregnancy, they may also stimulate fibroids to grow. Treatment for fibroids is available, so you do not have to live with the pain for the rest of your life.

Treatments range from medications to minimally invasive procedures to traditional surgery, then comes HIFU(non-invasive method). Medications include progestin-releasing intrauterine devices, oral contraceptives, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Also, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists stop the release of eggs from your ovaries and stop the production of estrogen, which can cause fibroids to shrink.

Minimally invasive procedures include those done with surgical procedures like a myomectomy (fibroid removal) and even hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). An ultrasound is used to diagnose fibroids in the gynaecologist’s office. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is also used to determine how fibroids can be treated and to reveal any other underlying disease.

Myomectomy, or fibroids removal surgery, can be used to treat uterine fibroids. You may also utilize Laparoscopic Myomectomy, which is a less invasive form of myomectomy that does not require you to be cut open. 

All thanks to modern technology that there are several fast and safe ways of treating uterine fibroids through innovative techniques that are less risky and have faster healing times than traditional methods. One of these modern ways is the use of HIFU machine (High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound). This is a non-invasive and non-surgical application that is even more advanced than minimally invasive gynaecological surgery. HIFU is a much newer method for treating fibroids that uses real-time ultrasound and high-intensity ultrasound waves to generate localized heat to specifically target individual fibroids and destroy the cells. HIFU is less risky than other fibroids treatments and has lots of advantage over open surgery, it is non-invasive, has a short recovery time, causes no blood loss, has a low complication rate, and preserves fertility. HIFU is available in Nigeria, Lagos and Abuja.

Always remember that the first step in diagnosing and treating fibroids is to consult with your gynaecologist, who will recommend the best treatment for the fibroids.

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