Fibroids are noncancerous growths or lumps of muscle tissue that form in the walls of the uterus. They can be as small as a pea, or as large as a rockmelon, or larger.
We’re not sure why they occur, but we do know that the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone play a big role in their growth stimulation.
Fibroids can occur in women of reproductive age, growing until the onset of menopause. After menopause they tend to decrease in size and may slowly disappear altogether.
Somethings do increase your risk of getting fibroids, while others increase your risk.
|Higher risk||Lower risk|
Fibroids occur in up to 70% of women by the time they are 50. Many won’t even know they have fibroids because the majority don’t get symptoms at all. Symptoms depend on the size, location and number of fibroids. Symptoms can include
In very rare circumstances a fibroid may become cancerous and is then called a sarcoma.
Fibroids are usually found during a gynaecological examination, pelvic ultrasound or during surgery for other conditions.
Fibroids may be found during a hysteroscopy which is an internal examination, usually under general anaesthesia, performed using a hysteroscope (a thin telescope). This is inserted along the vagina into a woman’s uterus to examine the inside cavity.
Fibroids can also be found during a laparoscopy (keyhole surgery). This is an examination, using a thin telescope performed under general anaesthesia, through a small cut in the navel (umbilicus) to look at or operate on the pelvic organs, such as the uterus, ovaries and uterine (fallopian) tubes.
Infertility is not a common problem for women with fibroids, less than three per cent of women may have fertility problems as a result of fibroids.
Sometimes fibroids cause problems in pregnancy or they interfere with labour and delivery. The number and position of the fibroids will determine if there is a problem. Fibroids can increase the risk of:
A pregnancy following surgery to remove fibroids may increase the risk of the scar in the uterus rupturing during the pregnancy.
Most fibroids will not require treatment unless they are causing problems such as:
Treatment will depend on:
Treatments may include:
|TREATMENT||HOW IT WORKS|
|GnRH agonist (an artificial hormone used to prevent natural ovulation)||It causes a temporary chemical menopause which shrinks the fibroids.|
|Intrauterine device (IUD) such as Mirena||Placed in the uterus, it can reduce heavy periods.|
|Uterine artery embolisation||
|Endometrial resection||A hysteroscope is used under general anaesthesia to cut out a fibroid that is partially or completely inside the cavity of the uterus, and partially in the wall of the uterus. These are called ‘sub mucosal’ fibroids and they usually cause heavy periods.|
|Myomectomy||Complete removal of a fibroid using:
|MRI–directed ultrasound technique||Guided by an MRI, high intensity focused ultrasound waves cause a localised increase in temperature to destroy the fibroid.|
A woman should make the decision to have a hysterectomy only after a discussion with her doctor about the reasons for the treatment, how it will be performed and the possible consequences. It is a treatment for women who no longer want to have children.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of fibroids, see your doctor at GS Health.
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