• Routine check-ups, regular scanning and having children as early as possible advised
Many women who have fibroids don't have any symptoms. In those who do, symptoms can be influenced by the location, size and number.
Some signs and symptoms include: Heavy menstrual bleeding that comes with a clot, resulting in anaemia, menstrual periods lasting more than a week, pelvic pressure or pain, frequent urination and difficulty emptying the bladder. Other signs are constipation, backache or leg pains.
If pregnant, fibroids may affect normal positioning of the baby and result in abnormal presentation and even difficulty delivering normally and abdominal swelling, which may resemble pregnancy.
Kenyatta National Hospital chief gynaecologist John Ong'ech says women need to go for routine check-ups, regular scanning and try to have children as early as possible. He also says women should avoid spacing children with a five-year gap or more.
Research suggests that using hormonal contraceptives may be associated with a lower risk of fibroids.
OPTIONS FOR TREATMENT
Treatment of fibroids depends on the size, location and number of tumours. It includes medication, surgery and hysterectomy.
Medication targets the hormones that influence the growth of fibroids. Surgery, called myomectomy, is an operation that targets the removal of individual fibroids. It does not guarantee that the fibroids will disappear forever. It is useful for young women with the desire to conceive and have children.
Hysterectomy is the complete removal of the uterus. It remains the only proven permanent solution for uterine fibroids. It is a major procedure and a decision that women are afraid to make since it does away with one's womb.
This is the best option for small, asymptomatic fibroids that may have been diagnosed incidentally, particularly in women close to menopause.