By Stella Naigino and violet Nabatanzi
It started like a small pain in the stomach, which I took for granted and thought it would disappear with time. But little did I know that I would be hit by a disaster that would make me childless for the rest of my life, laments Hadijah Namuyomba.
After a short while, my stomach started expanding and this brought a smile on my face because I thought I was pregnant. After a short time, I started belching a lot and upon visiting a doctor, an examination was carried out and this is how I discovered that I had fibroids in my uterus.
I started feeling too much pain and heat in the body and stomach. My husband, Fred Nakiraba, felt bad that I was going through so much pain, but he could not do much because of financial constraints.
Eventually, the situation forced me to consult traditional healers because I really wanted to bear a child for my husband. Traditional healers advised me to continue taking local herbs because, they argued, I would get a baby after taking many herbs. Nothing happened, so I gave up.
After four years of experiencing too much pain and bleeding almost half a bucket of blood during my periods, I was helpless yet my husband kept asking me to bear him a child. One day, there was a women’s function in Luuka district so I narrated my story. Fred Bahati, a pastor of Light Temple Ministry in Nsambya offered me transport to Mulago hospital because he was touched.
I left my home in Bumanya village in Luuka district and went to Mulago hospital for an operation. I was operated on in September, but I was told that I had lost my uterus. I now spend sleepless nights because I know that I will never hold my own child in my arms.
WHAT ARE FIBROIDS?
According to Dr. David Kiggundu, a senior gynaecologist in Mulago hospital, Fibroids are balls of muscle and fiber that grow within the wall of the uterus.
“The uterus is made of a powerful thick muscular wall which can contract in an involuntary manner when pregnancy is complete. It’s in this wall that the fibroids grow,” Kigundu explains.
He says fibroids normally grow in women during reproductive time, pregnancy or when a woman is using family planning pills. They mostly develop towards the later part of a woman’s reproductive years, although they may come earlier.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF FIBROIDS
Kiggundu notes that many women find out that they have fibroids after carrying out a routine gynaecological examination. He adds that fibroids do not always come with pain and symptoms until the uterus grows to the size of a 14-week pregnancy, which explains why most women take long to discover that they have them.
“They tend to grow in the wall of the uterus, meaning they tend to stretch the uterus lining and result in heavier abnormal menstrual bleeding,”Kiggundu reveals.
He adds that sometimes a woman may present to her doctor with tiredness due to anaemia from heavy bleeding and the fibroids are found later, after a full history examination is performed.
He says fibroids can press against other structures and if they are large enough, they cause abdominal swelling. Some victims pass urine all the time due to pressure exerted on the bladder. Others face difficulty when they go for long calls due to pressure on the bowel.
He reveals that they are a nightmare to many women, especially in cases where women find it difficult to conceive due to the squashing of the fallopian tube.
However it is important to note that these symptoms do not always mean that one has fi broids, so any or all of them may be due to something other than fibroids.
WHO IS PRONE TO FIBROIDS?
It is estimated that between 30- 50% of women between 35 –50 will have one or more fi broids. After menopause, growth slows with the drop off in natural oestrogen production.
ARE FIBROIDS DANGEROUS?
Much as they are not painful in their early stages of manifestation, they can vary in size from a pea to a grapefruit or even larger, which complicates the situation.
Commonly fibroids are suspected when an enlarged uterus is detected during physical examination in a woman who is not pregnant. The diagnosis is generally confirmed by an ultra sound.
The growth is normally attached to hormones and the hormones that favor its growth are mostly embedded in the uterus, hence their growth in this area.
WHY THE STOMACH EXPANDS
When fibroids grow in the uterus, it expands so it is the bulkiness of the uterus that causes the stomach to expand and makes a woman look like she is pregnant. Some even feel heavy.