There is often confusion between Fibroids vs Endometriosis. This misunderstanding has merit considering both conditions involve the uterus and both cause pelvic pain. However, their causes and treatments are different.
Fibroids, also known as a ‘Uterine Myoma’ are most commonly identified as non-cancerous growths or tumours inside the uterus during childbearing years which may or may not be painful. Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which tissue grows outside your uterus, on your ovaries, bowel, and the tissues lining your pelvis.
Both Uterine Fibroids and Endometriosis hardly ever develop into cancer and are never associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer.
Symptoms of Fibroids
The size of fibroids ranges from tiny seedlings to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. Sometimes these tumours become quite large and cause severe abdominal pain and heavy periods. In other cases, they cause no signs or symptoms at all. In women who have symptoms, the most common are: heavy menstrual bleeding, menstrual periods lasting more than a week, pelvic pressure or pain, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, constipation, backache or leg pains.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
In the case of endometriosis, hormonal changes of your menstrual cycle affect the misplaced endometrial tissue, causing the area to become inflamed and painful. This means that the tissue will grow, thicken, and break down. Over time, the tissue that has broken down has nowhere to go and becomes trapped in your pelvis. Pelvic pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis. You may also have the following symptoms: painful periods, pain in the lower abdomen before and during menstruation, cramps one or two weeks around menstruation, heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods, infertility, pain following sexual intercourse, discomfort with bowel movements, lower back pain that may occur at any time during your menstrual cycle.
Causes of Fibroids
Doctors are not yet sure of the specific cause of fibroids but they do believe that uterine fibroids develop from a stem cell in the smooth muscular tissue of the uterus. A single cell divides repeatedly, eventually creating a firm, rubbery mass distinct from nearby tissue. Some fibroids go through growth spurts, and some may shrink on their own. Estrogen and progesterone are the hormones produced by the ovaries. They cause the uterine lining to regenerate during each menstrual cycle and may stimulate the growth of fibroids. Many fibroids that have been present during pregnancy shrink or disappear after pregnancy, as the uterus goes back to its usual size.
Causes of Endometriosis
Endometriosis may occur due to a process called retrograde menstruation. This happens when menstrual blood flows back through your fallopian tubes into your pelvic cavity instead of leaving your body through the vagina. Endometriosis occurs more often in women who have short menstrual cycles or a longer-than-normal flow: Women who have fewer than 25 days between periods or who menstruate for more than 7 days are twice as likely to develop endometriosis. A faulty immune system may fail to find and destroy endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus. Immune system disorders and certain cancers are more common in women with endometriosis and estrogen appears to promote endometriosis.
Treatment of Fibroids
Fibroid Care in South Africa focuses on fibroid treatment through uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) also known as uterine artery embolization (UAE). The fibroid embolization treatment is a non-surgical, minimally invasive fibroids treatment alternative for the control of symptomatic uterine fibroids. Fibroid Care uses the trans-radial approach for fibroid embolization. Unlike many other fibroid treatments in South Africa, the uterus is preserved, making pregnancy possible after fibroid treatment. Due to the relatively new nature of uterine fibroid embolization treatment in Southern Africa (fibroid in surgery treatment – non-surgical), many gynaecologists are not familiar with this revolutionary option.
Treatment of Endometriosis
Treatments for endometriosis usually include surgery or medication. Your doctor may prescribe a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist. This medicine stops the body from making the hormones responsible for ovulation, the menstrual cycle, and the growth of endometriosis. This treatment causes temporary menopause, but it also helps control the growth of endometriosis.
While both conditions will cause pelvic pain and your menses being extended to longer periods, it will be beneficial to find out the specific reason. Both endometriosis and fibroids can be treated by your health practitioner.
Visit Fibroid Care to book an appointment for the non-surgical treatment of your fibroids. Fibroid Care’s consultancy and collective resources are designed to create awareness for this procedure as an excellent alternative to surgery for women suffering from fibroids. Whilst Fibroid Care specialize in Uterine Fibroid Embolization, they are well-positioned to work with you to help make the correct treatment choice for your unique situation.