Fibroids, also known as uterine myomas or fibromyomas, are tumours that grow in and around the uterus. They are non-cancerous, and very few develop into cancer. Fibroids are made of the same tissue as the uterine wall.
Around 40% of women will experience fibroids. You are most at risk of developing this condition if you are:
- aged between 30 and 50
- of African-Caribbean origin
The most commonly diagnosed type of fibroid is the intramural fibroid, these develop in the muscle wall of the uterus. Fibroids can also grow from the outside wall of the uterus, on the wall of the cervix, and beneath the inner lining of the womb wall.
Symptoms of uterine fibroids:
- heavy or painful periods
- abdominal pain
- pain during sex
- frequent urination
Only a third of women with fibroids will experience symptoms. For most, fibroids are asymptomatic.
How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?
If your healthcare provider suspects you have fibroids, you may be offered the following diagnostic tests:
- an ultrasound scan
- a transvaginal ultrasound scan
- a hysteroscope – in this examination, a small telescope is used to see inside the uterus
- a laparoscopy – in this examination, a small tube is inserted into the uterus. This is usually inserted via the belly button. A light and camera on the end of the tube transmit pictures to a monitor screen for examination.
- a biopsy – a biopsy may be taken to be sent off for further examination.
Uterine fibroids during pregnancy
Most women go on to have a healthy pregnancy and normal delivery. However, in some cases, fibroids may cause complications. Possible complications include:
- bleeding in early pregnancy
- low fetal birth weight
- placenta previa
- spontaneous miscarriage
- preterm labour
- red degeneration – this is most likely to occur during the second trimester. A haemorrhage occurs in the fibroid, causing the fibroid to die and turn red. This can be very painful.
Treatment for fibroids during pregnancy
Most women do not require treatment for fibroids. Most fibroids will clear up over time without treatment. However, for more severe cases, medication, surgery and MRI treatments are all possible treatment options. Your healthcare provider will be best able to advise you on the suitable treatment options for your condition.
If you are experiencing pain during the pregnancy, you may be put on bed rest. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be advised to reduce any pain.
Will fibroids affect the birth?
Most women with fibroids are able to have a normal delivery. However, if you have fibroids in your cervical wall, or developing in the lower half of your uterus, you may be advised to have a caesarean section. This is because the birth canal can become blocked by fibroids, making labour more difficult. Speak to your healthcare provider if you are worried your fibroids may affect the birth.
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.