The universal perception that fibroids only affect older women is being challenged by medical practitioners who deal with the condition first hand and have identified a significant increase in the occurrence of fibroids amongst women between 20 and 35.
A recent study has found that Black women are not only more likely to suffer from uterine fibroids but that the age of onset is reportedly lower when compared to other race groups. Occurrence of fibroids also appears to have hereditary links, suggesting that it’s important to understand your risk profile through simple assessment of your racial and genetic background.
Fibroid intensity ranges greatly, with many women experiencing mild to no symptoms and others experiencing heavy bleeding, painful intercourse and constant pain in the pelvic region. Fibroids grow at unpredictable rates and can occur in multiple parts of the uterus. In some cases, the growth is easy to detect, with the mass being visible to the eye or noticeable by physical examination of the abdomen. In other cases, the small ‘friendly’ symptom-free fibroids go on unnoticed by women who may never find out they ever had them.
Whilst the exclusive cause of fibroids is yet to be determined, research has provided contributing factors that include hormone imbalances, genetic change, obesity, family history and other tissue growth agents. Any woman who falls within the reproductive age needs to be aware of Fibroids as they pose potentially severe consequences where fertility, pregnancy and overall female health are concerned.
I’m young. I have fibroids. Now what?
Traditionally standard fibroid treatments involve surgical procedures such as a Myomectomy or Hysterectomy. Aside from the usual medical risks of infection, scarring and other complications, these invasive procedures either hinder or eliminate the chances of falling pregnant. For younger women, in particular, being advised towards such methods can be rather traumatic and often requires a great deal of deliberation.
Treatment is no longer limited, however, as medical advancements in this field have, to put it simply, changed the game. Fibroid treatment no longer requires deep incisions, weeks of recovery and potentially life-altering decisions. Fibroid treatment has been reduced to a simple yet effective outpatient surgery option known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization. Although medical professionals have used embolization for several decades, its effectiveness in treating fibroids has only been recently accepted in the medical sphere.
The procedure entails a freckle-sized incision through which a minute catheter is inserted and fed through into the femoral artery. Inactive particles are injected into the vessels that feed the fibroid and cause a blockage to prevent further nourishment of the growth. Through this, the fibroid is starved and starts to shrink before disappearing entirely. The incision is done in the groin, thigh or even the wrist!
Other non-invasive methods include the use of the good old birth control pill or administration of hormones through injections or intrauterine devices. You can rest assured that options exist and having fibroids as a young woman is not the end of the world. Being aware and getting help when needed is all it takes to ensure good female health overall.