Uterine fibroids have become a common medical condition for most women in Uganda today, resulting in complications such as abortions, severe lower abdominal pain, and hysterectomy.
According to Dr. Herman Sewagudde Musoke, an obstetrician and gynecologist attached to Seven Hills hospital in Ntinda, uterine fibroids are benign tumors. In other words, non-cancerous masses in the uterine muscles. He stated, that these are more prevalent in black women, and carried by 3-5 percent of Ugandan women.
He conveyed that most women carry uterine fibroids but do not know because most uterine fibroids are asymptomatic and cause no harm before they turn symptomatic.
Their said symptoms include; irregular and severe bleeding during menstruation, and the symptoms become evident as the tumors expand. Other symptoms are related to infertility and the inability to carry a baby for 9 months.
“Many women have these fibroids, aren’t aware because most fibroids are asymptomatic. However, if you have symptoms such as; irregular bleeding and pain, you have to get checked up. If you are counseled for definitive surgery, don't reject it. Because the fibroids could become cancerous, especially if for rapidly growing,” he advised.
The doctor said that fibroids are common in people of reproductive age, hence their occurrence in even younger women in their 20s.
But what causes uterine fibroids? Dr. Herman explained that as a woman advances in age and goes years without giving birth, bears few children, or fails to conceive for any other reason, they are at risk of developing uterine fibroids and black women are more at risk.
He, said doctors encourage women detected with small uterine fibroids to conceive because pregnancy slows the growth of the tumors. However, he held that the ultimate treatment for fibroids is surgery.
“The most definitive treatment for fibroids is surgery. However, we have other modes of treatment depending on the size and symptoms they are causing. There’s myomectomy which involves removing the fibroids and leaving the uterus in place whereas, for women with fibroids that have destroyed their uterus, we tend to counsel them to get it removed,” he explained.
More still, he provided that there are available treatments for smaller fibroids that don't qualify for surgery such as; painkillers, a hormonal treatment that reduces loss of blood or pain, and injections that shrink the fibroids, especially in patients a few months from the operation.
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