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Fibroids, also known as uterine fibroids or leiomyomas, are abnormal, usually noncancerous growths within a woman’s uterus. They are common in women aged 30 to 40 but can occur at any age. About two-thirds of Australian women are estimated to be affected by fibroids at some stage in their lives. The risk of having fibroids increases with age but tends to shrink in women who have passed menopause.

A woman can have multiple fibroids of various sizes. Fibroids are of three types:

  • Submucosal fibroids- they grow under the endometrium and into the uterine cavity
  • Intramural fibroids- they grow within the uterine wall and are the most common type.
  • Subserosal fibroids- they grow on the outside of the uterine wall. 

Symptoms of fibroids 

Women with fibroids may not experience any symptoms. However, some may experience symptoms including:

  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy and/or prolonged periods
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Period pain
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvic area
  • Low back pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation

Causes of fibroids

The cause of fibroids is unknown. However, fibroids have been found to affect women during their reproductive years due to the female hormone, oestrogen. Usually, they shrink after menopause when oestrogen levels are very low in women.

 The following are risk factors for developing fibroids:

  • Older age
  • Having a family history of fibroids
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Starting your period at a young age
  • Nulliparity (never been pregnant)
  • Having had a few pregnancies
  • High blood pressure
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Drinking alcohol

Treatment of fibroids 

Fibroids do not need to be treated unless they are causing worrisome symptoms or complications. Various treatments are available, but the most suitable treatment depends on the size and position of the fibroid(s), your symptoms, your age and whether you may be planning future pregnancies.

Treatment options include:

  • Hormone medications, which shrink the fibroid and treat symptoms.
  • Inserting a hormone-releasing, intra-uterine device into the womb, which reduces bleeding and pain.
  • Uterine artery embolisation, which cuts off blood supply to the fibroid to shrink it. 
  • MRI-directed ultrasound waves to destroy the fibroid.
  • Surgery, including myomectomy to remove the fibroid or hysterectomy to remove part or all of the womb.

You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.

This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.

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To speak directly with a team member please call 07 3188 5000