Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids…I will never forget that day in 2007, when I went to the hospita for routine malaria treatment…and then during the examination, the doctor felt what he suspected to be fibroids…and then sent me for a scan. I will never forget how, since I had an empty bladder at the time, I had to drink a full bottle of water and wait for another hour for my bladder to be sufficiently full. I will never forget the most insensitive technician who scanned me…and the even more insensitive doctor who, with one eye on his TV screen showing Africa Magic, “advised” me to hurry up and have my kids. Sad part was I wasn’t even dating anyone at the time. I left the hospital with my spirit in the pit toilet. Not only was I in despair over the seeming death sentence to my fertility, at that time in Nigeria, there were too many reported fibroid removal operation related deaths. My childhood icon, MEE Mofe-Damijo had lost her life to this, 11 years prior. I will never forget how mortified I was when my Mother had to have the same surgery in 1998, just 2 years after MEE’€™s death. I was a nervous wreck, even well after her surgery. It wasn’€™t until about 6 months post her recovery that I was able to relax. And now, here I was, diagnosed with the very same thing! Anyways, fast forward about 10 months after that, and only because I was going through considerable pain and discomfort, I successfully had a myomectomy at Georges Memorial Clinic, performed by (my superstar doctor) Dr. Faye Iketubosin! 12 fibroids, of varying sizes, were removed.






What are they?

So what indeed is a uterine fibroid? It is a tumour that grows in the wall of the uterus. Sometimes it might be a single growth, sometimes (as was my case), there could be multiple. Their size could vary…from just about the size of an apple seed to a watermelon, in some extreme cases. They are typically not cancerous, but it is always a good idea to test the tumours once removed, just to be on the safe side.fibriods

It is unknown what exactly causes fibroids, but their growth has been linked to estrogen dominance. They are more common with women of childbearing age. Women of afro origin (African, African-American, Caribbean, etc.) are 3 times more likely to develop this condition, with fibroids occurring at a younger age, grow more aggressively, and displaying more symptoms. In general, as many as 3 out of 4 women have uterine fibroids in their lifetime, but most do not display any symptoms and go undiagnosed. Their growth patterns tend to vary, some grow slowly, some rapidly, and some remain the same size. Some fibroids have periodic growth spurts, and some shrink on their own accord. On a number of occasions, fibroids tend to shrink or disappear after pregnancy, as the uterus goes back to a normal size. They also typically tend to shrink, or stop growing, after menopause, when the level of estrogen decreases dramatically.

Other factors that affect the development of uterine fibroids include early menstruation (women whose periods start before age 10 are more likely to have fibroids), birth control pills (women on the pill are less likely to), and family history (women with mothers, sisters, and even aunts, with a history of uterine fibroids have a greater likelihood to develop them).

So what indeed is a uterine fibroid? It is a tumour that grows in the wall of the uterus. Sometimes it might be a single growth, sometimes (as was my case), there could be multiple. Their size could vary…from just about the size of an apple seed to a watermelon, in some extreme cases. They are typically not cancerous, but it is always a good idea to test the tumours once removed, just to be on the safe side.

It is unknown what exactly causes fibroids, but their growth has been linked to estrogen dominance. They are more common with women of childbearing age. Women of afro origin (African, African-American, Caribbean, etc.) are 3 times more likely to develop this condition, with fibroids occurring at a younger age, grow more aggressively, and displaying more symptoms. In general, as many as 3 out of 4 women have uterine fibroids in their lifetime, but most do not display any symptoms and go undiagnosed. Their growth patterns tend to vary, some grow slowly, some rapidly, and some remain the same size. Some fibroids have periodic growth spurts, and some shrink on their own accord. On a number of occasions, fibroids tend to shrink or disappear after pregnancy, as the uterus goes back to a normal size. They also typically tend to shrink, or stop growing, after menopause, when the level of estrogen decreases dramatically.

Other factors that affect the development of uterine fibroids include early menstruation (women whose periods start before age 10 are more likely to have fibroids), birth control pills (women on the pill are less likely to), and family history (women with mothers, sisters, and even aunts, with a history of uterine fibroids have a greater likelihood to develop them).