Uterine Fibroids (leiomyomas or myomas) more commonly referred to simply as “fibroids” are the most common benign (non-cancerous) tumours which occur in women1 and have an estimated global prevalence of 75% in women of reproductive age2 .
Uterine Fibroids can cause a collection of symptoms that can affect the quality of life of women. They are usually found in or around the body of the uterus, but sometimes occur in the cervix. They may grow as a single tumour or in a cluster and can vary in size from a pea to a melon 3.
Fibroids can be divided into four types. These are:
- Intramural fibroids- found in the muscular layers of the uterine wall
- Subserosal fibroids- found in the outer wall of the uterus
- Submucosal fibroids- protrude into the uterine cavity
- Pedunculated fibroids- connect to the uterus through a stalk or can be attached to other close pelvic organs 4
The exact cause of uterine fibroids is unclear. Several factors which have been identified in the development of fibroids include:
- A person’s genetics and hormones
- Race and/or ethnicity and
- The environment
Not all women with uterine fibroids will experience symptoms. However those who may, could experience one or more of the following:
- Pelvic Pressure/ Feeling Full in the lower pelvis
- Lower back pain
- Heavy or painful periods
- Bleeding between periods
- Painful sex
- Reproductive Issues
- Frequent urination
Doctors may diagnose fibroids using one or more of the following:
- A pelvic examination
- Use of imaging resources such as: Ultrasound, Sonohysterography (SHG), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)3
Treatment and management of fibroids would vary from case to case. Options include:
- Medication: Pain pills, birth control pills, hormone pills
- Diet & Nutrition
- Surgery: myomectomy ( removal of uterine fibroids), hysterectomy (removal of uterus)
- Uterine Artery Embolization6
As the Caribbean and the island of Barbados have a large Afro-Caribbean population, the diagnosis, incidence, prevalence, treatment and management of uterine fibroids is of critical importance. This is as women of African descent are at a greater risk of developing uterine fibroids. Women in this population also develop fibroids at an earlier age and can have larger fibroids when compared to women of other ethnicities.
In 2020, the Global Fibroids Alliance, a collaborative that the Barbados Association of Endometriosis & P.C.O.S. is a participating member, published a position paper outlining the potential impact of uterine fibroids and proposing policy recommendations for improved management, treatment and overall care of persons diagnosed with uterine fibroids.
CARE About Fibroids has also provided a White Paper ” A Guide to Understanding Uterine Fibroids and Treatment Options for Women in the U.S“.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) released clinical guidance for the management of uterine fibroids in 2015.
Please access this information using the links below:
- The Global Fibroids Alliance Position Paper
- Rethinking Perceptions of Normal Period Pain and Bleeding:A Guide to Understanding Uterine Fibroids and Treatment Options for Women in the U.S.
- SOGC CLINICAL PRACTICE GUIDELINE: The Management of Uterine Leiomyomas (2015)
Here are some other resources about this condition:
- What are Fibroids?
- The Global Fibroids Alliance
- Fibroids Overview
- Black Women’s Health Imperative
- The Mayo Clinic- Uterine Fibroids
- CARE About Fibroids
- Khan, A. T., Shehmar, M., & Gupta, J. K. (2014). “Uterine fibroids: current perspectives.” International journal of women’s health, 6, 95–114. https://doi.org/10.2147/IJWH.S51083
- Day Baird D., Dunson D. B., Hill M. C., Cousins D., Schectman J.M. (2003)“High cumulative incidence of uterine leiomyoma in black and white women: ultrasound evidence.” Am J Obstet Gynecol 2003;188:100–7.
- The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) (Revised 2015) “What are fibroids?”. The Patient Education Website of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Source: https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/what-are-fibroids/
- The British Fibroid Trust: http://www.britishfibroidtrust.org.uk/whatis.php?LMCL=C4irYe
- Stewart, E. A., Nicholson, W. K., Bradley, L., & Borah, B. J. (2013). “The burden of uterine fibroids for African-American women: results of a national survey.” Journal of women’s health (2002), 22(10), 807–816. https://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2013.4334
- National Women’s Health Network (Feb. 2018) Fibroids Overview: https://nwhn.org/fibroids-/
We seek to provide relevant and up to date information to allow those with Uterine Fibroids to make informed decisions as it pertains to the condition. Whilst we provide these links and references to external resources, we have no control over what they produce on these third party sites and thus are not responsible for the content and cannot confirm the completeness of any of the information from any other site. Thus, we claim no liability for any damages or injuries of any kind arising from such content or information. Please remember to seek the expert opinion of a medical practitioner for medical advice.