It is estimated that fibroids arise in up to 60% of the pre-menopausal female population. They are balls of ‘gristle’… benign tumours containing fibrous and muscle tissue..that grow in the wall of the womb. They can cause heavy periods and pelvic pain and swelling if they are large, and they can also affect fertility, but many people have small fibroids that never need any specific treatment.
Fibroids invariably cause problems if they are inside the womb cavity. Multiple or large fibroids may need surgical removal. Fibroids are easily diagnosed using a pelvic ultrasound.
They are usually dealt with surgically (myomectomy, or the less invasive trans cervical resection if they are inside the womb cavity) , but there are some medical treatments that may be appropriate, which shrink them, or manage the symptoms they cause.
In some cases, the blood flow to the fibroid can be blocked by embolisation, which causes some pain initially, but the fibroid can resolve completely without the need for surgery. This treatment is only really suitable for women who have completed their family.
Fibroids usually shrink after the menopause.
A rapidly growing fibroid may be the result of the rare 1% that turn cancerous. A hysterectomy is always required then.
Fibroids usually do not pose a problem in pregnancy, but sometimes they outgrow their blood supply as the womb gets bigger, causing pain, but no immediate risk for the baby on board.