Fibroids (also known as myomas) are non‐cancerous lumps in the muscle of the uterus (womb). They can vary in size from 1mm to more than 20cm in width but most women who have them do not experience any symptoms. Fibroids are one of the most common gynaecological conditions with up to 70 per cent of women having fibroids by the age of 50.
According to Jean Hailes gynaecologist, Dr Elizabeth Farrell, their cause is not known however it is thought that the female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) may play a role. “Fibroids generally only occur in women of reproductive age. In fact, after menopause, fibroids may start to shrink or even disappear. This is because our female hormones levels drop after menopause.”
While most fibroids do not cause any problems, if some cases women may experience:
- Heavy or prolonged periods
- Iron deficiency
- Frequent or incomplete urination
- Incomplete emptying of the bowel
- A lump or swelling in the abdomen
- Period pain
- Painful sex
- Pressure on the bladder, bowel or back
- Lower back pain
Fibroids may also cause complications for fertility or pregnancy in some cases but this depends on the size, number and location of the fibroids.
Treatment is only necessary if the fibroids are causing symptoms. There is a range of treatment options available including medications, embolisation (cutting off blood supply to the fibroid), MRI‐guided ultrasound therapy or a number of types of surgery. It’s a good idea to discuss with your health professional about which option is the most appropriate treatment for you.
International Gynaecological Awareness Day was on 10th September. For more information on fibroids, go to www.jeanhailes.org.au