Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the womb (uterus). The growths are made up of muscle and fibrous tissue (rows of white tissue comprised of ligaments, tendons and membranes). They can vary in size with the largest known fibroid in the world weighing 63.3kg (140lbs). They’re sometimes known as uterine myomas or leiomyomas . Only 1/3 of people are aware they have fibroids because most people don’t have any symptoms.
Fibroids can occur at any age but are more common in women in their 30s and 40s. Fibroids are sensitive to the hormones oestrogen and progesterone which encourage their growth and they are more common in Black women who are also more likely to have multiple fibroids compared with white women.
Your periods with Fibroids:
If you have fibroids you may notice irregular bleeding or spotting in between periods. This can be a common symptom for the 1/3 of us who experience symptoms of fibroids. You may also experience periods which are heavier, irregular and more painful. Intramural and submucosal fibroids are usually the cause of heavy or abnormal bleeding during your cycle. Intramural fibroids are the most common type of fibroid and develop in the muscle wall of the womb. Submucosal fibroids are found in the muscle layer beneath the womb’s inner lining and grow into the cavity of the womb.
Your hormones with Fibroids:
Fibroids are sensitive to hormonal changes, in particular estrogen which can encourage their growth. Fibroids often shrink in size after the menopause as a result of the fall in the levels of estrogen after the menopause.
Your fertility with Fibroids:
Fibroids can grow anywhere in the womb and often vary in size. Some can be the size of a pea, whereas others can be the size of a large melon. Approximately 5-10% of infertile women also have fibroids. Although most women with fibroids will be able to conceive without much difficulty extremely large fibroids of those that alter the shape of the lining of the womb due to their size and position can cause difficulties getting pregnant.
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the womb (uterus)
Your body with Fibroids:
If you have particularly large fibroids or your fibroids are causing you problems you could notice some of the following symptoms
- heavy periods or painful periods
- tummy (abdominal) pain
- lower back pain
- a frequent need to urinate
- pain or discomfort during sex
If you have particularly large fibroids you may be able to feel them if you lie down and massage your stomach or you may begin to feel more uncomfortable in your clothes if you experience swelling in your abdomen.