Margaret, a 48 year old woman, seemed to be pregnant for three years. She had a watermelon sized noncancerous tumour that kept developing in her lower abdomen. The bloated stomach caused her severe pain in her hip and lower back that she could hardly sit, walk straight or go long distances. She couldn’t drive for more than five minutes without the consistent urge to pee and this disrupted her life. She quit her job and failed to keep up with her social life since her ability to go anywhere was restricted. Initially, the doctors had diagnosed her with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. When the symptoms worsened, she opted to investigate on her own and got a private CT scan. Alas! That’s how she found out that she had a huge uterine fibroid. (www.self.com). A quiet epidemic which is creeping among Lesbians, Bisexual and Queer (LBQ) women in the movement that is being ignored because it is a perceived phenomenon that we do not have dire health issues. We tend to forget that we are women first before our sexual orientations.
Uterine Fibroids (Fibroids) do not only affect heterosexual women but all women including women who have sex with women. They are abnormal growths that develop anywhere in or on a woman’s uterus. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), up to 80% of all women (gay, bisexual or straight) are diagnosed with fibroids by the age of 50. They are normal occurrences and usually do not produce signs or symptoms if they are small. What most doctors forget to tell us is that despite the fact that fibroids are noncancerous, they keep growing big in the long run. If the tumours are disregarded, the condition can worsen and lead to serious adverse effects such as a bloated belly, increased menstrual cramps, heavy and long menstruation periods, trouble in conception or miscarriage(s) for any woman that would wish to have children in the future, spasms in urination, discomfort during intercourse, extensive pains in the pelvis, hip or lower back that can lead to pressure and swelling of the uterus. While the cause of their development is unclear, certain factors have been attributed to lead to fibroids growth. These include high levels of oestrogen in the uterus, family history, smoking and obesity. It is also assumed that most women who are 30 years and above but have never given birth provide room for fibroids to develop faster and bigger between or during the menstruation period. (Daily Monitor, March 20, 2018).
Alot can be done to remedy fibroids once the symptoms show up in time. The very first step is to consult a gynaecologist or an obstetrician for a pelvic exam. Tests can be carried out through CT Scans, Ultrasounds and Pelvic MRIs. When one is found to have fibroids, the doctor will then come up with a treatment plan based on the age or size of the fibroids in the uterus. For any woman that expects to conceive, become pregnant or is already pregnant yet has fibroids, she should inform her doctor who will be able to monitor her carefully until her baby is due. In early stages, drugs can be prescribed to regulate one’s hormonal levels and anti inflammatory pain killers like ibuprofen are used to deal with the chronic pains in the lower parts of the abdomen. In the hostile stages, a surgery called an Abdominal Myomectomy can be performed to remove large or multiple growths, however the fibroids might grow back afterwards. That’s when a Hysterectomy can be carried out as the last resort. The downside to this is one can never conceive or bear children in future. Other minimal invasive procedures can be used like Forced Ultra Surgery (FUS), Myolysis, Cryomyolysis and the Endometrial Ablation. (Health line, February 6, 2018). Changes in diet, for example, a woman can avoid meats and high calorie foods while adopting to green vegetables, stress management levels and weight loss for those who are obese are other ways to combat fibroids in a more natural way.They may also shrink during or after menopause because at that time, the levels of oestrogen which stimulate fibroid growth will drop.