By: Chuks Collins, Awka
An Obstetrician and Gynaecologist specialist and university don, Dr Joseph Ugbaja has described heavy/increased menstrual flow as the commonest symptom of uterine fibroid.
Dr Ugbaja who is the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) Nnewi, made this disclosure at a health seminar at the weekend on Women’s Health, pointed out that leiomyomas otherwise known as uterine fibroids were benign growths of the smooth muscles of the uterus.
According to him,the uterus is composed of three walls- the innermost layer termed the endometrium, part of which is shed every month in the form of menstruation, the middle muscular layer that constitute the bulk of the organ- myometrium as well as the outermost covering of the organ called the serosa.
He added that, “the primary function of the uterus is to receive, house and nourish the developing baby (foetus) and to successfully give up the baby when the baby is matured through the processes of labour and delivery.
“In the absence of pregnancy, the prepared inner lining of the uterus referred to as the endometrium is shed every month in the form of menstruation”, he noted.
The health expert however noted also that the cause or aetiological factors of fibroid is still largely unknown but that what is known is that, just as in other growths in the human body, it results from dysregulation in cellular growth.
“It is also known to be common among the blacks and older women who have not or will not conceive.
“The commonest symptom of uterine fibroids is increased menstrual flow otherwise called menorrhagia. For instance, if you have a normal four day menstrual duration and suddenly noticed an increase in the number of days as well as in the volume of menstrual flow as evidenced by use of increased number of pads, then uterine fibroids should be suspected.
“This finding may be associated with passage of blood clots during menses and feeling of faintness following each period.
A woman with uterine fibroids can also notice an abdominal mass which gradually increases in size with some form of mass effect on the bladder and rectum leading to some difficulties and issues with urination and defeacation.
“There may also be dysmenorrhea which is commonly known as painful menstruation. Sometimes, the only manifestation of fibroids will be repeated pregnancy losses.”
Ugbaja admitted that in vast majority of cases, the fibroids are asymptomatic (ie no symptoms) and only discovered on routine ultrasound scan for other gynaecological problems.