What Causes Uterine Fibroids to Grow | Which Size of Fibroid is Dangerous

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Dr. Manu Lakshmi

27 Aug 2021

Uterine Fibroids to Grow

There is no known cause that makes fibroids grow but what is known is that fibroids grow rapidly with high levels of female reproductive hormones. In preparation for pregnancy, oestrogen and progesterone stimulate the development of the uterine lining during every menstrual cycle and so do the hormones that appear to promote the growth of fibroids as well. This is understood by the fact that fibroids contain more oestrogen and progesterone receptors than are present in normal uterine muscle cells. During pregnancy, when hormone levels are high, fibroids grow faster making it evident that fibroids are under hormonal control. This is how anti-hormone medication as advised by the best gynecologist in Chennai helps in the treatment to shrink uterine fibroids.

Factors that increase the risk of uterine fibroids to grow

Though it is not clear as to what causes fibroids, few factors that are found to increase the risk of developing fibroid growth may include:

  • Family history of fibroids
  • Early puberty (onset of menstruation)
  • Obesity
  • An imbalanced diet with high amounts of red meat and less green vegetables
  • Consuming alcohol

Where do uterine fibroids grow?

A woman’s uterus is shaped like a pear and on average it is approximately 3 inches long. Fibroids can grow in several places both inside and outside of the uterus. Fibroids are classified and given different names according to the places fibroids are located in/on the uterus and also how they are attached. Specific locations where uterine fibroids can grow include:

  • Intramural fibroids are found embedded into the wall of the uterus.
  • Submucosal fibroids grow inside the uterine space or the cavity. The fibroid growth extends down occupying the empty space in the middle of the uterus.
  • Subserosal fibroids are located on the outside wall of the uterus.

Pedunculated fibroids are also located on the outside of the uterus but are connected to the uterus with a thin stem.

The location and size of the fibroids is important in the diagnosis and treatment. The best gynaecologist in Chennai will suggest treatment method that will work best for the size and number of fibroids in that place.

Growth patterns of uterine fibroids can vary greatly, or not?

Growth of uterine fibroids can be very slow or they may enlarge rapidly. Fibroids can also remain the same size for years or even shrink on their own. Fibroids that are found to be present during pregnancy often disappear after delivery. However, with menopause, the risk of developing new fibroids is minimal and fibroids that are present are likely to shrink.

Fibroids grow in the form of clusters or as single nodules ranging from 1mm to 20cm in diameter. Many small fibroids can develop in to a cluster of fibroids or grow as one large, dominant fibroid. According to a research study, the average rate of fibroid growth is 89% per 18 months. With this as a point of reference, a two centimetre fibroid is expected to take four to five years to grow up to be double that diameter. Also, it is revealed that very small fibroids have the tendency to grow more quickly than the larger ones.

Following is a guide that uses a reference point to generalize the size of fibroids as follows: small,

  • Small (>1cm to 5cm) equals to size of a pea to a lime.
  • Medium (5cm to 10 cm) ranges from the size of a peach to a large lemon.

Large (10cm+) varies from the size of a mango to a watermelon.

Specific measurements of fibroid size and estimation of growth using ultrasound has become more and more important. The size, shape and position of any fibroids can be determined by evaluating the uterine cavity. If an asymptomatic fibroid is detected and measures less than 5 cm in diameter, it may just need watchful waiting whereas for a fibroid that measures 5 cm or more and continues to grow, the best gynaecologist in Chennai may suggest a suitable treatment.

Which size of fibroid is dangerous ?

Fibroids that remain small without noticeable symptoms often go undetected. A small fibroid that has a larger change in size concludes that it is growing. Small fibroids with an increase in diameter of >20% is likely to indicate “true growth.” The true growth of a fibroid is more clinically relevant as fibroid growth is linked to increased symptomatology. Fibroid growth and symptom progression are found to be the leading cause for hysterectomy. Larger fibroids can make the uterus distended and enlarged thus causing more obvious symptomatic changes in body.

Additionally, the usual course of treatment for fibroids that are causing no symptoms is watchful waiting. However, as fibroids increase in size, they may cause more significant impact on the body. They can occupy the space meant for other organs and can cause discomfort or pain. Some of the effects that can arise when fibroids grow beyond smaller sizes are:

  • Enlarged uterus
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Unusual weight gain
  • Discomfort and pain in the pelvis and lower back
  • Increased urge for urination

Large fibroid can even lead to expansion of the uterus to the size equivalent to a pregnancy entering the 3rd trimester. Women with large fibroids will have to take imaging studies done to evaluate uterine fibroid size. Not evaluating the fibroid size often leads to significant symptoms, eventually requiring emergency removal. Hence, the size of a fibroid is the primary symptom to determine whether treatment is required and if the woman needs to undergo fibroid removal in Chennai.

What are the complications larger fibroids can lead to ?

  • Firstly, large enough to misshape the uterine lining
  • Secondly, fibroids can increase the risk of injury to the ureter or bladder during surgery
  • Very large fibroids that are even symptomless can begin to degenerate or burst
  • Large fibroids of 4 to 6 inches can have a rare association with blood clots in the lungs that can be highly dangerous
  • Finally, large fibroids that are still growing can be a sign of a rare cancerous fibroid, called a leiomyosarcoma which occurs in less than 1% of uterine fibroids.

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Disclaimer: The content of this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended for use as diagnosis or treatment of a health problem, and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a healthcare professional. If you have questions or concerns or you feel that you have symptoms regarding a health or medical condition, you are recommended to contact your physician or get in touch with chennaigynecologist.com for proper treatment.

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