Fibroid is foreign concept in many societies. These are abnormal in-growths that develop around, in or on a woman’s uterus. Scientifically these noncancerous tumours parts are also known as fibromas, uterine myomas or leiomyomas.
These tumours are classified differently depending on their location on the uterus. There are three types of fibroids; the most common fibroid type is called Subserosal fibroids, this grows on the outside of the uterus.
The second and less common type of fibroids is called Intramural fibroids which grow inside the muscular wall of the uterus. The third is called Submucosal fibroids and these grow in the open space inside the uterus.
Despite awfully affecting women, the cause of this disease remains unknown to date. However, there are factors that influence the formation of fibroids in and on the woman’s uterus.
The lead risk factor to fibroids is two hormones, oestrogen and progesterone which are produced by the ovaries. These hormones cause the uterine lining to regenerate during each menstrual cycle and may stimulate the growth of fibroids.
The second factor is genetics where the cause of fibroids may be due to family history. This means that if your mother, sister or grandmother has a history of this condition, you are more likely to develop it.
Pregnancy is the third influence of formation of fibroids as it is caused by an increase in production of oestrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body because these two highly lead to development of fibroids when you are pregnant.
Katherine*, a nun in Dodoma is one of the victims of fibroids. One quiet afternoon as she was headed for afternoon prayers, she noticed she had a different type of stomach-ache. It was during her menstrual circle.
“I started wincing in pain, especially on the left part of my stomach which turned out to be on the part of my left ovary. This was very abnormal because I had never experienced it before. I managed to work through my daily routine despite the pain. One thing that startled me was when another symptom arose in the following menstrual cycle,” says Katherine.
She started experiencing a textured blood as well as a heavier flow alongside unbearable stomach-aches which made her rethink the possibilities of seeing a doctor.
When she visited a hospital in Dodoma for a check-up, several parts of her body were examined including her palm, the back of her hand and both feet because the doctors were checking for blood flow in her body.
Katherine was told that she had a cyst that had formed on the uterus. This is an abnormal, usually non-cancerous growth filled with liquid or sometimes a semi-solid substance and it causes pain.
“The doctors told me that the cysts had developed around my uterus area because of hormonal imbalance. I was given over-the-counter medication for the pain and I noticed a decrease in the stomach pains. Little did I know that these pains were only briefly gone,” says Katherine.
When she revisited the hospital for the second time, the doctors had noticed a change in her heartbeat and she had difficulty in breathing.
“I was then told to either get surgery to remove the fibroids or use family planning dosage to make the growths disappear. The doctors told me that during the removal of fibroids, it was likely that my uterus would get removed too. Both options were against my belief and my position as a Catholic nun so I declined the offer and told the doctors that I would first seek alternative means besides the two suggested before going against my beliefs and position,” narrates Katherine.
Six months later, Katherine found an all-natural medical centre named Cornwell Tanzania Naturopathic Clinic located in Kigamboni and all her problems are now a story she does not live anymore.
“After six months of using the natural medications that were made by several trees and herbs, sourced locally, I am now completely healed and my most recent check-up revealed that I am free of fibroids. I could have opted for a quick surgery to rid myself of the fibroids but the doctors were open that even a surgery does not guarantee the disappearance of the cause of fibroids other than removal of visible fibroids,” explains Katherine.
Doctor Munawar Kaguta, a gynaecologist at Aga Khan Hospital referred to fibroids as non-cancerous swellings that specifically grow in or on the uterus.
“There is no actual cause of fibroids that is known except for the fact that they are a result of several behaviours, one being the over-production of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone,” says Kaguta.
Dr Kaguta says research shows that African women are more affected by fibroids due to the strength of their muscles compared to other races.
“Fibroids symptoms differ in accordance to the placement of the growths since it can be both on and in the uterus, muscles. The leading symptoms include infertility, over bleeding during one’s menstruation and weight gain on the stomach or the whole body,” he explains.
Dr Kaguta further added that “treatment plans for fibroids differ as they are directly proportional to the placement and their sizes. There are times a woman can be advised to get on medication that will shrink the growths or if the size has gotten out of hand, she is likely to be advised to have a fibroid removal surgery. This is why we encourage time to time bodily check-ups to curb abnormal issues like fibroids.”
For her part, Doctor Elizabeth Cornwell, Director of Cornwell Naturopathic Clinic says that fibroids are influenced by many things, one being overproduction of oestrogen and progesterone.
“As much as these two hormones play a big part in a woman’s body in terms of hormonal balance, when disturbed by multiple factors they can form cysts that turn out to be fibroids. Factors that cause disturbance during the production of these two hormones include age, chemical usage and genetic factor,” says Doctor Elizabeth.
She explains that there comes a time when the body is expected to birth a child and during this time, the two hormones automatically increase in production whilst waiting for the male sperm to form a baby hence leading to the formation of growths in or on the uterus.
She explains that like many diseases, the first noticeable symptom of Fibroids is weakness whereas some women may start to notice they are losing weight whilst others face heavy and irregular period.
“Fibroids have a number of symptoms, and they may all occur at once or they may occur partially in one person. Other symptoms include an abnormal vaginal discharge and menstrual-like cramps that may occur even when you are not on your period,” she explains.
She further explains that these growths take a while to fully take control of a woman’s body.
They take time to grow to the extent where they can be noticeable to the naked eye.
Fibroids can develop into one growth or several of them. When there is more than one growth, they are referred to as a cluster of fibroids.
According to Elizabeth, there are two ways to partially or fully treat fibroids.
One is through natural medicines and the other if through a surgical procedure where in the end, the results are different.
For early stages of fibroids, a person can use natural medications that promise the elimination of fibroids and for late stages when the fibroids have overgrown the stage that can allow elimination, they have to get surgery to remove the growths