Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Awareness of Predisposing Factors of Uterine Fibroids among Females in Oyo State: Implications for Social Workers

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Awareness of Predisposing Factors of Uterine Fibroids among Females in Oyo State: Implications for Social Workers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Uterine fibroid is the most common benign (non-cancerous) tumor of a woman's uterus (womb). Fibroids are tumors of the smooth muscle found in the wall of the uterus. They can develop within the uterine wall itself or attach to it (Khan, Shehmar & Gupta, 2014). They may grow as a single tumor or in clusters. These growths occur in up to 50% of all women and are one leading cause of hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) in the United States. An estimated 600, 000 hysterectomies are performed in the US annually and at least, one-third of these procedures are for fibroid. It is quite high in Nigerian women with over 80% of those above 25 years of age having fibroids if only of the size of a seedling (Agboola, 1998). Fibroids start in the muscle tissue of the uterus (Rhyan, Syrop & Van Voorhis, 2005) according to Wallach and Vlahos (2004), fibroids are of three types depending on where they grow in the uterus. Fibroids can grow into the uterine cavity (sub mucosal), into the thickness of the uterine wall (intra muscular), or the surface of the uterus (sub serosal) into the abdominal cavity. Some may occur as penduculated masses (fibroids growing on a stalk of the uterus, see Fig. 1).

Uterine fibroids which are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years are not associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost do not lead into cancer. Although in most cases, they can cause the uterus to grow into sizes of a five months pregnancy or even more (Sakaran & Manyonda, 2008). Intramural uterine fibroid is the most common while sub mucosal is the least common. Sub mucosal tend to cause a heavy bleeding which gushes heavily and prolonged periods. Fibroids themselves do not require treatment, but women with fibroids can develop complications as a result of fibroids, including bleeding and pelvic pain (Rein, Barbeiri & Friedman, 1995). It is because of symptoms that doctors may suggest treatment for a fibroid. Only 20% to 50% of women with fibroids have symptoms due to the condition which is primarily bleeding or pelvic pressure (Anderson, 1996).

According to Eisinger (2015), most fibroids do not cause any symptoms, but some women with fibroids can have heavy bleeding (which can be heavy enough to cause anemia) or painful periods; feeling of fullness in the pelvic area (lower stomach area). Fibroids can also cause rectal pressure. Should the fibroids get very large, they can cause the abdomen (stomach area) to enlarge, making a woman look pregnant (Eisinger, 2015). It can lead to enlargement of the lower abdomen; frequent urination; pain during sex; lower back pain; complications during pregnancy and labor, including a six-time greater risk of cesarean section; reproductive problems, such as infertility, though very rare (Vollenhoven, Lawrence & Healy, 1990). Fibroids can cause recurrent miscarriage, infertility, premature labor, and labor complications. However, a substantial majority of women with fibroids are able to have successful pregnancies unless the uterine cavity is unusually distorted (Parker, 2007). Women who do have symptoms often find fibroids hard to live with; some have pain and heavy menstrual bleeding (Sealy, 2012).

The exact reasons why some women develop fibroids are unknown, but some researchers such as Sakaran and Manyonda (2008); Adegbesan-Omilabu, Okunade and Gbadegesin (2014) concluded that certain factors predispose women to fibroids such as heredity. It is believed that fibroids run in families and often affected women who have a family history of fibroids. It has also been observed that black women are prone to fibroid; to Bhatla (2001), the incidence of uterine fibroid depends on age and race. Similarly, the presence of fibroids has been associated to: being overweight, obesity, never have given birth to a child (nulliparity), onset of menstruation and race (Sakaran & Manyonda, 2008). Most fibroids even large ones produce no symptoms; these masses are often found during a pelvic examination or prenatal ultrasound (Eisinger, 2015). …

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