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Are you struggling with menstrual pains and heavy bleeding? This could be the cause

By Faeza
17 March 2017

When it comes to health,

women are always

told that they need to

go for an annual pap

smear as part of guarding their

bodies against cervical cancer.

Women also need to have an

ultrasound scan to check that

they do not have fibroids.

“Fibroids are non-cancerous

growths that appear in the

uterus,” explains Dr Andrew

Lawson of the specialist uterine

fibroid treatment centre, Fibroid

Care, “No one knows why women

get these growths, and their

growth is not linked to any

lifestyle choices such as diet,

smoking or heavy drinking.”

Lerato Mogoatlhe sheds light on how to deal with menstrual pain or

heavy menstrual bleeding caused by abnormal growths in a woman’s uterus


that supply blood to the fibroid.

“Without blood supply, the fibroids

die. Over time they start shrinking.”

With this treatment method, if

you start treatment before your

monthly cycle, by the time you go

on your period, you will already see

the difference. “It reduces bleeding

so dramatically, it’s as if a running

tap has been turned off,” says Dr



“However, it is worth noting that

African women seem to be inclined

to getting fibroids.” Fibroids develop

from the smooth muscular tissue

of the uterus, and often come in

different sizes.

“It’s when they become symptomatic

and cause the women

problems,” Dr Lawson continues,

adding that fibroids affect women

between the ages of 20 and 50.


The common problem with a person

who has fibroids includes heavy

periods, or “when you go through

multiple sanitary towels in a day.

The result is that women lose iron,

which then leads to things like eating

clay and sand. Fibroids may also

come with severe menstrual pain.”

It’s the kind of menstrual pain that

leads to taking time off work.

“Another sign that one might

perhaps has fibroids is being so

bloated that it feels like you are

pregnant, terrible constipation and

having to frequently urinate,” he says.


There are four ways of treating

fibroids. “Some people choose to do

nothing, others go on medication

but the results are often poor. The

other two options are surgery and

embolisation,” says Dr Lawson.

“With surgery, you can remove the

womb or only the fibroid or myoma.”

Embolisation is the non-surgical

treatment of fibroids, and Dr

Lawson’s speciality. During the

procedure, small wires and pipes

(called catheters) are used to put saltlike

particles into the blood vessels


“My advice,” says Dr Lawson, “Is

that if you have any of symptoms

of having fibroids, you need to get

an ultrasound scan, which costs

between R350 and R500 and can be

done by your general practitioner,

radiologist or gynaecologist. Don’t let

anyone tell you differently.”


At Fibroid Care, a clinic dealing

exclusively with fibroids, all medical

advice is free, and you only pay for

the treatment.

The clinics have now introduced

a procedure called the transradial

approach. Because the radial artery

(the artery at the wrist, beneath

the thumb) is closer to the skin, this

procedure is more comfortable than

the traditional approach through the

artery in the groin. “It takes about 30

minutes, and even though you will

be awake, it is pain-free and patients

are kept in hospital for just one

night,” says Dr Lawson.