Fibroids are small tumours that grow inside a woman’s uterus. They are not dangerous in the same way as a cancerous tumour; they are what are described medically as ‘benign’, which means they are not harmful to the body.
According to statistics, they are fairly common, with 20 per cent of women of childbearing age experiencing them. This rises to 50 per cent of all women by the time they reach the age of 50, so the chance of developing fibroids at some stage in your life is fairly high.
How are fibroids discovered?
Symptoms which might suggest that you have developed fibroids include heavier than usual menstrual bleeding or periods that last longer than they used to, bleeding (or spotting) between periods, pain during sexual activity, a greater need to pass urine or a general unexplained pain in the pelvic/abdominal region.
Fibroids are often found accidentally, usually when a woman has treatment for something else which involves a scan of the uterus.
If your GP suspects that you may have fibroids, they will refer you for a scan, which will either be an abdominal ultrasound scan (the same approach used to look at a developing baby during pregnancy) or it will be a transvaginal ultrasound scan, whereby a little probe is inserted in via your vagina.
What do you do if you are diagnosed with fibroids?
As fibroids are benign, there are a variety of treatment options available, and these will depend on factors such as your age, life stage and how much discomfort they are causing.
Often women will choose to treat the symptoms of the fibroid(s) rather than chose to have them removed by surgery. If they are causing heavy or prolonged periods then you may be prescribed a contraceptive pill which can help regulate and control these.
You may also be offered iron supplements as if you are experiencing heavy monthly periods you will be losing more blood than usual, which could have a detrimental effect on the body’s iron reserves.
Over time if the body is not getting (or storing) enough iron then this can cause a condition called anaemia, whereby the body does not produce enough red blood cells. You can easily weave more iron into your diet by eating foods such as brown rice, eggs, pulses, beans, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and curly kale, and also dark chocolate.
Some women will opt for surgical removal of the fibroids, some may even choose (or be recommended to consider) treatment such as a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is the full removal of the uterus. This treatment is not required for the treatment of fibroids, but if you have been suffering from repeat problems with the growth of fibroids then this does offer a permanent solution to the issue. Consultant gynaecologist Mr Nitish Narvekar specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of fibroids, offering minimal access surgery at various London clinics and hospitals.
To arrange a consultation with Mr Narvekar, call his private secretary D Loziak on 020 3794 8769 or fill in the contact form and we’ll be in touch.