At King’s our team of skilled and experienced Gynaecologists can assess your fibroid symptoms and provide a range of fibroid treatment options.
WHAT ARE FIBROIDS?
A fibroid is a non-cancerous (benign) growth of the womb (uterus). They are also called uterine myomas, fibromyomas or leiomyomas. Their size can vary. Some are the same size as a pea and some can be as big as a melon. Fibroids can increase in size, decrease in size or even go away with time. They can occur anywhere in the womb and are named according to where they located.
- Intramural fibroids grow within the muscle tissue of the womb. This is the most common place for fibroids to grow
- Subserous fibroids grow from the outside wall of the womb into the pelvis.
- Submucous fibroids grow from the inner wall into the cavity of the womb.
- Pedunculated fibroids grow from the wall of the womb and are attached to it by a narrow stalk.
HOW COMMON ARE FIBROIDS?
They are common. It is difficult to know exactly how common they are as many women won’t have any symptoms, and so may not know they have fibroids. Probably at least 1 in 2 women develop one or more fibroids in their lifetime, and probably more. They usually develop in women aged 30-50 and can sometimes run in families. It is common to have several fibroids of various sizes, although some women just have one. Fibroids are more common in women from Afro-Caribbean origin. They also tend to be larger, occur at an earlier age and are more likely to cause symptoms in Afro-Caribbean women.
Fibroids are also more common in women who weigh over 70 kg (11 stones). This is thought to be due to the higher levels of oestrogen
Most women who have fibroids are not aware that they have them as they do not have any symptoms. Sometimes one is found during a routine examination by a doctor or by chance during a scan which you may have for another reason. Symptoms may include:
- Heavy or more painful periods
- Bloating or swelling
- Bladder or bowel
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Miscarriage or infertility (This is very rare and only occurs if fibroids are protruding into the womb)
- Problems during pregnancy
HOW ARE FIBROIDS DIAGNOSED?
Some fibroids can be felt during an internal (vaginal) examination by a doctor. Usually an ultrasound scan is done to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out other causes of any symptoms.
If your fibroids are not causing any symptoms, then treatment is not usually needed. Many women choose not to have treatment if they have symptoms that are not too bad. After the menopause, fibroids often shrink, and symptoms tend to go or ease. You can change your mind and consider treatment if symptoms become worse. Your doctor may advise you to have a repeat scan to assess the growth and size of your fibroid.
Medication to Improve Symptoms
The following medicines are used to treat heavy periods whatever the cause, including heavy periods that are caused by fibroids. These medicines may not work so well if your fibroids are large. However, one or more of the following may be considered if your periods are heavy and the fibroids are small:
- Tranexamic acid
- Anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and mefenamic
- The combined oral contraceptive (COC) pill
- Levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG-IUS)
- Progestogen table
Surgery & Operational Treatments
There are several different operations available to remove and treat fibroids.
- Uterine artery embolisation