Fibroids are benign, non-cancerous tumours that grow in or on the womb. They are very common, affecting 1 in 3 women at some point in their lives.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids can come in different sizes, from ones not perceptible to the human eye through to much bigger ones that can warp and increase the size of your womb. You could either have one fibroid or many. However, fibroids are harmless in most cases.
What are the symptoms of fibroids?
In the vast majority of cases, if you have fibroids you won’t experience any symptoms.
However the 1 in 3 women who do have symptoms might experience:
- abdominal distention
- abdominal and lower back pain
- repeated need to urinate and problems emptying your bladder
- pain while having sex
- heavy or painful periods
- periods that last longer than a week
What causes fibroids?
There is no clear cause of fibroids, but some potential causes and risk factors include:
- Your genes – fibroids often run in families
- Your hormones – fibroids have a higher level of progesterone and oestrogen in them than other uterine cells
- Being pregnant – because more oestrogen and progesterone is produced when you’re pregnant, this can accelerate the growth of fibroids
How are fibroids diagnosed?
If you do feel discomfort from what you think is fibroids, see your doctor. To make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms as well as where and when you feel pain.
To help make a diagnosis, you will be given a pelvic exam and you will need to have an ultrasound. Occasionally your doctor may recommend a MRI, hysterosonography or a hysteroscopy.
How are fibroids treated?
If you don’t experience any symptoms with your fibroids, they don’t need to be treated and they will be managed conservatively.
However, if your fibroids cause you discomfort, your doctor may recommend some (or all) of the following:
- over-the-counter medications – such as ibuprofen or naproxen – to reduce your pain
- medications called Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, to help shrink the fibroids
In some severe cases you may need surgery (a myectomy or hysterectomy) and your doctor can advise you on the surgery that’s right for you.
If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.