Jinja: Many women in Uganda have no clue of having fibroids.
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the uterus. The growths are made up of muscle and fibrous tissue and vary in size. They are sometimes known as uterine myomas or leiomyomas. Many women are unaware that they have fibroids because they don’t have symptoms.
According to a report written by Care Uganda, it is estimated that at least 25 percent of women by the age of 30 have fibroids in Uganda. Although fibroids are a global burden impacting 80 percent of premenopausal women, they are more prevalent among black women than women from other race.
“I didn’t know that had fibroids until I failed to conceive from the time we got married. I used to feel bloated most of the time and my abdomen was swollen and I thought it was just me gaining weight. In 2021 when I had conceived, I got a miscarriage and I used to experience a lot of pain and discomfort after that, my husband and I went to a couple of hospitals and I underwent a scan, they discovered that I had tumors in my uterus. The doctors suggested that I undergo a surgery so that they can remove the tumors”
“My husband was hesitant as he didn’t like the idea of surgery. The doctors gave us another option of an external treatment and I was given medicine. They kept on changing the medicine and I was able to conceive but at some point, I had a lot of pain and they had to do an evacuation and by God’s grace, the foetus survived. A few months later we went to do an ultrasound, the baby was fine and I gave birth to a healthy baby in February 2023. I feel fine now,” Bwiire Milly, 30.
“My wife has failed to bear children. We have moved to different places including to herbal doctors but nothing seems to change. Recently we went to the hospital where she underwent screening and we were told that she has tumors in her uterus and we were told that she needed to undergo surgery,” Anonymous.
“Causes of fibroids are not known but research and clinical experience points to genetic changes, hormones, substances that help the body maintain tissues such as insulin like growth factor and extracellular matrix that makes cells stick together,” Michelle Louie, gynecologic surgeon at Mayo clinic.
She adds that, many women who have fibroids do not have any symptoms. In women who have symptoms the most common signs and symptoms are; heavy menstrual bleeding, menstrual periods lasting longer than a week, pelvic pressure or pain, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder,backache or leg pain and constipation.
“Preventing uterine fibroids may not be possible but only a small percentage of these tumors require treatment. But by making lifestyle choices such as maintaining a healthy weight and eating fruits and vegetables, you maybe able to decrease your fibroid risk,” she adds.
She further explains that some research suggests that using hormonal contraceptives maybe associated with a lower risk of fibroids.
“Fibroids affect pregnancy because if an individual has fibroids in their uterus, they might seal off the fallopian tubes and when they want to conceive, the sperms would not be able to reach the ova and fertilization would not take place and such an individual would not conceive. This is a long term complication called infertility,” Kasenke Paul, clinical officer at Nile Health Care Services.
He notes that fibroids can also affect pregnancy when the tumors grow at the cervix and there will be an obstruction of the cervix which stops the foetus to pass through the cervix because the fibroids have closed it and this can lead to premature labor and that in some cases some people keep having miscarriages or abortion.
“While surgery is one of the treatment options for fibroids, it’s not every time that you require an operation. When diagnosed with fibroids, one should know how many they are, their location, size, and do they extend to the inner lining of the uterus. Treatment depends on the symptoms, size, location and fertility desires,” doctor Eve Nakato.