Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths on the uterus. They are fairly common amongst women of childbearing age—about 30% of women above the age of 35 will have uterine fibroids.
Uterine fibroids, also called myomas or leiomyomas, are composed of muscle and fibrous tissue. They come in different sizes, ranging from the size of a seedling to a bulky mass. Large fibroids can cause the belly to bulge. When this happens, the fibroids can press on organs, resulting in increased pelvic pressure, a sudden and frequent urge to urinate, and difficulty passing bowel movements. Fibroids can also contribute to infertility, and pregnancy and childbirth complications.
However, the risk of the fibroid being cancerous remains low and, in most cases, does not cause any symptoms nor affect daily activities.
As uterine fibroids vary in size and numbers, women who display signs and symptoms often experience the following problems:
If you experience any of the above symptoms, we advise you to seek treatment. Options at our gynae clinic include observation, medication or surgery.
This is a surgical procedure to remove the fibroids while leaving the uterus intact. With myomectomy, there is a chance of the fibroids recurring in the future.
Patients who undergo this type of fibroid surgery experience decreased heavy menstrual bleeding and mitigated pelvic pressure. This treatment is suitable for women who have fibroid symptoms and desire to have children in the future.
A hysterectomy is the permanent solution to removing fibroid. It involves removing the entire uterus which means that the patient will not be able to conceive in the future. The uterus, or womb, is where the foetus grows and develops. Outside pregnancy, the uterus sheds its lining monthly in the form of menstruation. After a hysterectomy, a woman will also no longer have her monthly periods.
A hysterectomy is a recommendation made only when other treatments have failed to treat the symptoms of uterine fibroids. Additionally, a fibroid surgeon may also remove surrounding tissues and organs like the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Women who are 30–40 years old or in menopause are usually at higher risk of getting fibroids. There are also other risk factors, such as family history, obesity, and the excessive consumption of red meat.
Fibroids can cause infertility because they can alter the shape of the cervix, which can affect the amount of sperm entering the uterus. They can also change the shape of the uterus (affecting implantation of the embryo, or whether a pregnancy can continue normally) or block the fallopian tubes.
Fibroids are not cancerous and do not increase the risk of uterine cancer in women.