F for Fibroids
As common as fibroids are, the awareness about them is not. July is Fibroid Awareness Month, a time to highlight yet another under-discussed issue.
What are fibroids?
These are non-cancerous tumors that exist within or on the uterus. There may be one or several fibroids of various sizes that can grow slowly or quickly, or just stay the same size. If your fibroids become too large, you may have unpleasant and debilitating symptoms that make it difficult to go about your daily activities. Thankfully, most of them are treatable and removable.
How do we recognize the symptoms?
· Heavy bleeding (often causes anemia)
· Pelvic pain
· Frequent urination
· Pain in the legs and back, pain during sex
More than 80 percent menstruators naturally develop fibroids by the age of 50. Its important to normalize the conversation surrounding fibroids so that menstruators around us are more well informed.
What can we do to avoid or delay fibroid development?
Include more of the following in your lifestyle:
· Citrus fruits
· Vitamin D and supplements
· Lower stress levels
There is an increased fibroid risk in case of:
· High estrogen levels
· Consuming sugary foods
· Red meat
· Hair relaxants
· Excess body weight
Is surgery the only option? No.
1. Medication: Birth control pills, hormone injections, and medicated intra-uterine devices recommended by health professionals are examples of medications for uterine fibroids that target hormones. This means they may relieve some of your symptoms, such as heavy periods and pelvic pressure, but they will not eliminate your fibroids. All of these drugs prevent conception, and some of them have undesirable side effects.
2. Endometrial ablation: The internal lining of the uterus, which is the portion that causes severe bleeding, can be removed in a variety of ways. All of the methods entail a gynecologist inserting a thin tool into the uterus through the cervix and removing the lining using heat, laser, electricity, microwaves, or freezing. If you still wish to get pregnant, this treatment is not recommended.
3. MRI: MRI is used to focus an ultrasound beam on a fibroid to break it down in an MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound operation. This method is still under investigation and isn't publicly available.
4. UFE: Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) procedure is a minimally invasive surgery. It prevents all fibroids from receiving blood, causing them to shrink. UFE is a minimally invasive, low-risk treatment that can be used instead of standard surgery. Pain and discomfort is minimal, and the recovery period is days rather than weeks or months, with the right pain management approach.
5. Myomectomy: A myomectomy is a surgical treatment that removes fibroids from the uterus without removing the uterus. The type of surgery depends on the size and location of the fibroids.
6. Acessa: A tiny probe is inserted into a fibroid and heated to eliminate it in this surgical technique. If you only have a few fibroids, this surgery is ideal. Acessa is not a viable choice if you have several big fibroids or fibroids that are difficult to reach.
7. Hysterectomy: This involves surgically removing the uterus, which also gets rid of the fibroids.
Start a dialogue and be better advocates for a collective sense of health. Start with sharing inspiring stories that encourage menstruators to speak up and ask questions regarding their symptoms. It is important for everyone to know that they have options when it comes to health, that include minimally inclusive procedures without having to undergo life-changing surgeries.
One such initiative is Change The Cycle. Change the Cycle is an online forum for menstruators with heavy periods and fibroids to discuss and discover answers to their problems. The website empowers people to take control of their heavy periods and wear white, a color that is traditionally connected with dread and embarrassment for those who have accidents due to significant bleeding.
This July, lets foster a movement for everyone with a uterus to thrive!
Author : Nibha Patil
Artwork : Khyati Patkar