What are Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are fleshy growths in the uterus. They aren’t cancerous, and most women don’t find them harmful or painful. In fact, up to 25% of all women have fibroids, and most never need treatment. Up to 60% of affected women never even have symptoms. However, fibroids can cause pain and fertility issues in some women.
How do Fibroids Affect Fertility?
Fibroids do not make a woman infertile. However, they may affect a woman’s ability to conceive by:
Changing the shape of the uterus – this can interfere with the movement of sperm or embryo.
Blocking cervix or fallopian tubes – this can obstruct the journey of the sperm or egg.
Affecting blood supply – this can make it difficult for an embryo to stick to the uterine wall.
In some cases, fibroids can also change the position of a baby in the uterus or impact the ability to give birth naturally. As a result, it’s important to discuss your fibroids with your obstetrician (even if they have already been removed).
How do you know if you have them?
Every woman’s body is different, and symptoms may vary in representation and severity. Most women affected by fibroids have no symptoms at all. Symptoms which may indicate fibroids include:
- Heavy periods – you may soak through pads or tampons very quickly (within 1-2 hours) or pass large clots.
- Tiredness – having a constantly heavy period can lead to iron deficiency anaemia
- Painful periods and/or sex – fibroids can make any contractions or pressure painful, especially if they form near the cervix.
- Infertility – fibroids can impact the way the uterus functions, making it harder to conceive
- A feeling of pressure in the pelvis – this can be caused by uterine fibroids putting pressure on other organs. Very large fibroids at the back of the uterus can also cause lower back pain.
- Bladder problems – you may need to urinate frequently, or may have mild urinary incontinence.
How do I get Diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects that your symptoms may be caused by uterine fibroids, they will usually commission one or more tests to help provide an accurate diagnosis and determine a suitable course of action. These tests may include:
- Ultrasound – his helps your doctor get a clear view of the uterus and identify any fibroids.
- MRI scans – these used to establish a full view of the picture in regards to your uterine fibroids. They can also help your doctor identify the best course of action.
- Hysteroscopy – this procedure uses a small camera to examine the inside of the uterus and look for abnormalities.
Based on the results of these tests, your doctor may prescribe treatment or refer you to a specialist. You can ask to be referred to Dr Homar at Toowoomba Obstetrics and Gynaecology for further treatment by mentioning us to your doctor.
What fibroid treatments are available?
Most fibroids aren’t painful and don’t require treatment. However, there are plenty of management and treatment options available for women who feel the effects of fibroids. These include:
- Medication/hormonal therapy – These can be used to help manage pain and hormone levels.
- Fibroid embolisation – this involves blocking the arteries supplying blood to the fibroids with tiny particles, which causes the fibroids to die. Fibroid ablation can only be performed by an interventional radiologist.
- Surgery – a myomectomy may be performed surgically to remove the fibroids, or a hysterectomy to remove the whole uterus in severe cases.
- Fertility treatments – if the fibroids are not causing pain but are impacting fertility, fertility treatments may be used to help you conceive.