Fibroids, also known as uterine myomas, are non-cancerous, non-harmful (benign) growths in the uterus. It is a common condition, affecting 1 in 3 women at some point in their life. Ultrasound scan can be used to confirm a diagnosis.
As fibroids are asymptomatic, many women who are affected are often unaware of the condition. However, some women do show symptoms like painful periods, tummy pain, lower back pain, frequent urge to urinate, constipation and discomfort during sex. Although rare, fibroids may cause problems in pregnancy and cause infertility.
The exact cause of this condition is yet to be known. It is, however, thought to have a link with oestrogen hormone that is produced by the ovaries. It is shown by the shrinkage of fibroids when a woman hits menopause, in where oestrogen levels are low.
Fibroids are also thought to occur more often in overweight women as obesity increases the oestrogen level in the body.
Treatment is not necessary if your everyday activities are not affected.
Several medications can be used to relieve symptoms. To reduce heavy periods, levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG-IUS), a small plastic device can be placed in your womb to thin your womb lining, hence reduce bleeding. Tranexamic acid tablets can also be used to stop small blood vessels in the womb lining. Contraceptive pills and synthetic progesterone hormone (one of the female sex hormones) can also be taken orally to help reduce heavy period pain.
However, if symptoms do not improve with the above medications, your GP will refer you to a gynaecologist who may give you gonadotropin releasing hormone analogues (GnRHas) by injection to help shrink your fibroids. Low doses of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be coupled with GnRHas to prevent side effects like vaginal dryness and osteoporosis. Oral medication of ulipristal acetate may also be prescribed for women over 18 years of age.
Severe fibroids may require surgical procedures like hysterectomy (removal of the womb) or myomectomy (removal of fibroids from wall of the womb). Myomectomy is beneficial for women who still want to have children. However, it is not suitable for all types of fibroids and are dependent on a lot of factors such as the size and position of fibroids. Other techniques include MRI-guided laser ablation where laser energy is passed down a small needle put into the fibroid through the skin.
It should be noted that all medications and surgical procedures have risks and your doctor will advise you on the possible complications that may arise.
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Doctify Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, please call 999 for immediate assistance.