What are fibroids?
Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths that can develop in the walls of your womb (uterus). These growths are made up of muscle and fibrous tissue, can vary in size and can be single or multiple.
What are the symptoms of fibroids?
Some people with fibroids may have no symptoms at all, however, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms it is important that you contact your GP or gynaecologist. If left untreated fibroids can grow over time and this may lead to complications. Symptoms can include:
· Painful periods
· Heavy periods
· Anaemia. Which may be caused by heavy loss of blood during your periods. It is caused by a lack of red blood cells, and symptoms include tiredness, dizziness, weakness and headaches.
· Bleeding in between periods or with sexual intercourse.
· Pain of discomfort during sex.
· An extended tummy which can cause you to ‘look pregnant’.
· Abdominal (tummy) pain.
· Lower back pain.
· A constant urge to pass urine.
· Constipation and bloating.
· Depression or low mood.
· Difficulty with getting pregnant.
· Increased risk of miscarriages.
Types of fibroids
There are several different types of fibroids, and it is possible for a woman to have one or more of these different types at the same time.
· Submucosal fibroids. These occur under the lining of the womb. This type can also grow on a stalk (pedunculated).
· Intramural fibroids. These develop within the wall of the womb. This is the most common type of fibroid that may cause the womb to be an irregular shape.
· Subserosal fibroids. These develop on the outer wall of the womb and usually cause no symptoms. However, if they grow large enough they can put pressure on surrounding organs such as the bladder and the bowel. You can also get pedunculated subserosal fibroids.
Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose fibroids a series of imaging tests may be required, such as an ultrasound scan, MRI or hysteroscopy (where a small camera is used to look inside the womb). These tests will confirm a diagnosis of fibroids and give a more accurate idea of the location, size and number of fibroids. It is important to do these tests to rule out any other causes of bleeding which may be more sinister.
Treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms. Medicines that can be prescribed include anti-inflammatory medicines (to relieve pain), tranexamic acid (helps to reduce the amount of bleeding), and hormonal treatments such as the contraceptive pill, coil or progesterone tablets (these all help to regulate periods). There are also medicines that shrink fibroids called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogues (GnRH analogues). If you are a candidate for surgery to remove your fibroids you may be prescribed GnRH analogues for a few months beforehand.
Surgery may be considered for large fibroids that are causing severe symptoms. There are several surgical treatment options including hysterectomy (surgery to remove your womb), a myomectomy (surgery to remove the fibroids from the wall of your womb), or a transcervical resection of fibroids (treats submucosal fibroids). There is also uterine artery embolization (UAE) which is an alternative procedure to surgery that involves blocking the blood vessels that supply the fibroids which cause them to shrink.
In your consultation, Mr Jaf Abu will discuss the risks and benefits of each treatment option with you.
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.