Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow from the muscle layers of the womb.
They are also known as uterine fibroids, leiomyomas, or myomas.
These growths of smooth muscle can vary from the size of a bean to being as large as a melon.
Fibroids affect around 30 percent of all women by the age of 35 years, and from 20 to 80 percent by the age of 50 years.
They usually develop between the ages of 16 to 50 years, the reproductive years during which estrogen levels are higher.
Once a fibroid develops, it can continue to grow until after menopause. As estrogenlevels fall, the fibroid will shrink.
Being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk.
Fibroids are most common during the reproductive years.Exactly why they form is unclear, but they appear to develop when estrogen levels are higher.Most people experience no symptoms, but they can include backache, constipation, and excessive vaginal bleeding leading to anemia.Complications are rare, but they can be serious.
Types of fibroid
There are four types of fibroids:
Intramural: Located in the muscle wall of the uterus, this is the most common type.
Subserosal fibroids: Located outside the wall of the uterus but under the surrounding tissue layer. They can develop into pedunculated fibroids, with stalks, and can become quite large.
Submucosal fibroids: This type can protrude into the cavity of the uterus and is located in the muscle beneath the lining of the uterus wall.
Cervical fibroids: This is located in the neck of the womb, or the cervix.
The classification of a fibroid depends on its location in the uterus.
It remains unclear exactly what causes fibroids, but it may be related to estrogen levels.
During the reproductive years, estrogen and progesterone levels are high.
When estrogen levels are high, especially during pregnancy, fibroids tend to swell. They are also more likely to develop when a woman is taking birth control pills that contain estrogen.
When estrogen levels are low, fibroids may shrink, for example during menopause.
Heredity may play a role. Having a close relative with fibroids increases the chance of developing them.
There is also some evidence that red meats, alcohol, and caffeine could increase the risk of fibroids, and that an increased intake of fruit and vegetables might reduce it.
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