f you’ve found out that you have a fibroid, don’t let it alarm you.
What you must remember is that though it sounds worrying, a fibroid is nothing but a simple non-cancerous growth.
Fibroids are very much common in women starting right from their 30’s until they reach their menopause. In fact, by some estimates, as many as 77% of women (of childbearing age) may have some form of fibroid by the time they’re 50 (and most will never even know it)!
This benign mass can be easily dealt with using various medications or with surgery if needed. Your doctor will be able to discuss your options and future course of action based on how large it is, the discomfort it is causing you, and any potential medical complications it may cause if it is left untreated.
But when experts say a fibroid is “large” what do they really mean? What is considered a large fibroid actually? At what cm size should it be considered serious and be surgically removed?
What is considered a Large fibroid? How Big is Too Big?
Image: BruceBlaus via Wikimedia commons cc4.0
Fibroids can vary in size from a relatively modest 1 inch to as much as 8 inches. So a small fibroid could be the size of a coin, but a big one may be as large as a melon! They may occur alone or be part of a cluster of fibroids.
So, coming to the main point, when is a fibroid considered big enough to warrant concern and some action?
- Fibroids of 3 cm or less: Fibroids of this size can be simply considered as tiny fibroids. Typically at this size, you may not even experience any symptoms of having the fibroid.
- Fibroids of 3 to 5 cm: As a fibroid grows, depending on where it is located, it may cause some symptoms like mild to moderate pain or bleeding/spotting. On an average, fibroids which are of sizes in between 3 cm to 5 cm can be considered medium-sized fibroids.
- Fibroids > 5 cm: When your fibroid grows larger than 5 cm, this is when it is categorized under large fibroids. Left unchecked, fibroids of this size can cause several symptoms like pressure on your rectum and/or bladder, the need to urinate often, constipation, rectal pain, abdominal pain, and lower back pain. You may also notice changes in your period – cramping, pain, heavier bleeding, periods that last longer, and spotting between periods. If heavy bleeding persists, it can even result in anemia.
So, on an average general note, all the fibroids >5 cm can be considered as large fibroids. Further, a fibroid is considered ‘Very large’ if it causes your stomach to become distended making you look pregnant!
(Here you need to keep in mind that the above-said symptoms are simply indicative of what many women experience with that respective size of the fibroid. And Yes, It may vary from person to person)
Above all, Don’t forget to keep your age in Mind..
The Size of fibroid is sometimes in relation to your age. That means, the maximum size a fibroid can grow in your 30’s can completely vary from the maximum size it can grow in your 50’s. So, a fibroid which is considered large in your 30’s may or may not be considered large in your 50’s. Thus, you need to always keep your age in mind while evaluating whether your fibroid is large or not.
- Late 30’s to early 40’s: If you’re in this age band, the maximum size of your uterus along with the fibroid growth can be as much as 13 cm in dimension. To put that in perspective, it is like being 10 to 12 weeks pregnant. A normal uterus is around 7 cm long.
- The Mid-40’s: Women in their mid-40s tend to have large fibroids of the maximum as much as 17 cm. That’s the equivalent of being in the 14th or 16th week of pregnancy.
- Late 40’s to early 50’s: While you are unlikely to develop new fibroids at this age, the existing ones that have grown can cause your uterus to swell up to a max of 21 cm. A uterus the size it normally is when you’re five months into a pregnancy! – Hersfoundation
At what cm size, should fibroids be removed?
when considering fibroid removal, besides its actual size, many other factors come into play as well. In fact, fibroids completely vary from woman to woman. Thus it is important not to look at it in isolation and keep in mind all related parameters as well.
Here are some of the other factors (apart from size), which decide the complication of a fibroid..
The Location of your fibroid is one of the most important factors which determine whether it should be removed or not. For example, A 4 cm fibroid located on the uterus wall(intramural fibroid) is considered small, while it is considered large if it is located inside of the uterus(submucosal fibroid). In general, fibroids are found in three areas of the uterus – on the outside of the uterus, between the uterine muscles, or beneath the uterine lining. Among them, Submucosal fibroids (fibroids inside the uterus) are normally considered more serious when compared to other fibroids (as they can cause fertility issues and miscarriage and should be treated.
2. Growth rate
A fibroid could be relatively small, but if it is growing at a rapid pace, it can be considered more serious, when compared to a larger fibroid that is more or less stable.
3. Symptoms you are experiencing:
While the worst symptoms will probably show up if the fibroid is bigger, but it can happen earlier in some smaller fibroids also. For instance, a tiny one that’s inside the uterine lining may cause heavy building and put you at risk of reproductive issues (including infertility). Thus the more symptoms your fibroid shows up the more it is considered serious and be surgically removed.
Removing a Large Fibroid:
Needless to say, if a fibroid is large enough to make you look pregnant, you certainly need to have it removed or medically treated. Contrary, even though you have a smaller fibroid, but if it is rapidly growing or is causing you a lot of discomforts, pain, then also, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor…
Some of the fibroid treatment options include:
- Medication to shrink the fibroid.
- Medication to ease symptoms.
- Medication to make fibroids easier to remove.
- Uterine fibroid embolization – a non-surgical outpatient procedure that cuts blood supply to the fibroid causing it to shrink.
- Myomectomy or surgical removal of just the fibroid, leaving uterus intact.
- Hysterectomy or surgical removal of the uterus.
Whatever the treatment you choose, when it comes to dealing with a fibroid, you shouldn’t go by size alone. Pay close attention to your body and watch for symptoms and speak to a medical professional if you’re unsure.
Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr cc2.0
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