Available medical records show that fibroids affect about 30 per cent of women aged 35 years, while 20 per cent to 80 per cent of women are afflicted at the age of 45 years.
According to medical experts, fibroids usually develop between the ages of 16 years to 50 years.
These are the reproductive years during which estrogen levels are higher.
Fibroids are abnormal growths that develop in or on a woman’s uterus. Sometimes these tumours become quite large and cause severe abdominal pain and heavy menstrual periods. In other cases, they show no signs or symptoms at all.
Experts further explain that the growths are typically benign or noncancerous and most people experience no symptoms.
However, some do, including lower backache, constipation and excessive or painful uterine bleeding, leading to anaemia.
Dr Prosper Igboeli, a gynaecologist, who spoke on how to check formation of fibroid, explains that good diet could reduce its development.
Igboeli, who is the Managing Director of M and M Hospital, Fertility and IVF Centre, Abuja, advises women to eat foods that contain vitamin D as such could prevent fibroids formation.
He stresses that women need more of calcium, vegetables and fruits as consumption of these could reduce their risk of developing fibroids.
According to him, vitamin D deficiency is connected to fibroid formation. We have taken serial measurement of vitamin D in patients and found out that a lot of black women who are having fibroid also have vitamin D deficiency.
The doctor also notes that red meat and ham have been linked to a higher risk of fibroids, while plenty of green vegetables seem to protect women from developing it.
He says both young and middle-aged women develop fibroids, adding that for the old, it may stop when the woman reaches menopause.
Igboeli says that the estrogen and the progesterone that women make every month stimulate the vessel of the womb to transform themselves into a timorous fibroid step.
He also says that fibroids can run in families, saying if someone’s mother has fibroids, there is an increased chance that the girl-child may develop fibroids later in life.
He lists the symptoms of fibroid as menstrual periods lasting more than a week, frequent urination and difficulty emptying the bladder, sometimes it will cause pelvic pressure or pain.
The medical expert says fibroid could reoccur when the surgeon did not remove all of it including the small ones.
He, however, advises women not to use herbal medicines or depend on prayers to solve the problem of fibroid, saying that herbs destroy the womb, hence women should seek the services of medical doctors.
“It may destroy the fibroid, but sometimes it affects the womb,’’ Igboeli says.
On fibroids treatment, Dr Ifeoma Azubuike, Obstetrics and Gynaecologist at Federal Medical Centre Owerri, says hysterectomy is the permanent solution to fibroid.
Hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus. The surgery may be done for different reasons, including uterine fibroids that cause pain, bleeding or other problems.
Azubuike says that the only permanent treatment for fibroid is surgery, which could be myomectomy (removal of the fibroids) or hysterectomy depending on the individual’s symptoms.
The medical practitioner also says that fibroid could likely reoccur after myomectomy surgery but permanently treated after hysterectomy.
According to her, fibroid surgery is advised based on an individual’s symptoms, usually when the symptoms become life threatening.
The gynaecologist further says that some drugs could shrink big fibroids to make surgical removal easy, but they start to grow again once the drugs are stopped.
“The fibroids grow again, at times more than before. So, the drugs are given with surgery in view. Nothing has been proven to be able to remove fibroids completely.’’
She, however, stresses that the cause remained largely unknown, saying that some risk factors include nulliparity, obesity, hyperestrogenic state, multiparity and smoking, saying it is more in black women.
Azubuike explains that its symptoms depended on where in the uterus it occurred and size also.
“Common symptoms are inter-menstrual bleeding, pain during sex, recurrent pregnancy losses, lower abdominal pain and abdominal swelling among others.”
She also explains that the ailment could be asymptomatic and could be managed with both drugs and surgery.
“Drugs are used for a short period or to manage particular symptoms and not to treat the fibroids,’’ she adds.
Corroborating Azubuike’s views, Dr Nathaniel Adewole, a Consultant Gynaecologist at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, advises women with fibroids not to be afraid of operation as the procedure is safe.
Adewole stresses that “death from fibroid operation is very low; in fact this is the period we have one of the safest time, we have advanced technically.
“Sincerely, fibroids operation is very safe now in terms of blood loss because there is a way we secure it to prevent bleeding, and it is very effective. Majority of fibroid operation will not even need blood transfusion.
“It is just like any normal operation, people can die from it due to some unforeseen complications.’’
Adewole, however, affirms that the cause of fibroids still remains unknown as nobody can say this is the real cause of fibroids, “that is why it makes prevention a little bit more technically difficult.
“But one thing is common that may predispose to it; low parity either when the woman starts having children late or the interval between children is so wide, these factors could lead to more occurrence of fibroids.
“People that start delivering early or normally without much spacing have low risk of fibroids formation.
“And it affects over 60 per cent of the population even those women that got pregnant have some form of fibroid.
“It is also known that pregnancy actually reduces the chances of one having fibroid not that it prevents it.’’
He, therefore, advises that women of child-bearing age should have children timely and people that have had fibroids operation, for it not to reoccur, should start having children immediately after the operation.
“Because even after the operation, it may reoccur especially if the person went through myomectomy.
“Although it is not in everyone who has had the operation that it will reoccur, but about 20 per cent of them,’’ he explains.
He also notes that even some of those women that got pregnant early have some form of fibroids.(NANFeatures)
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