Fibroids are non-cancerous tumours (collections of abnormal cells) that grow in or around a women’s womb. In many cases fibroids remain quite small and do not cause any symptoms or complications but in some women fibroids develop to such an extent that they can cause a number of symptoms.
Black women are 2-3 times more likely to develop fibroids and it has been estimated that 55% of black women develop fibroids at some point in their life. In addition, fibroids tend to be larger and more numerous in black women.
Types of Fibroids
There are six types of fibroids. They are based on where in the womb the fibroid grows.
Intramural – this is the most common type of fibroids. They develop within the wall of the uterus
Subserosal – develop on the outer surface of the womb and continue to grow outwards into the pelvis
Submucosal –they grow on the inner side of the womb
Pendulated – these occur when a fibroid grows on a stalk that is attached to the womb and grows outward
Intracavitary – these also develop on a stalk but they grow inward
Cervical – these develop in the wall of the cervix ( the neck of the womb)
- Heavy or painful periods
- Abdominal pain
- Frequent urination and constipation
- Pain or discomfort during sex
- Lower back pain
Who Gets Fibroids?
It is known that
- Fibroids are common in women of child bearing age (between 25 to 45 years of age).
- They are 2 – 3 times more common in black women and tend to be larger and more numerous.
- Women who are obese or over weight are at a higher risk
- Women who have not given birth appear to be at a higher risk
- A family history of fibroids can increase a woman’s risk
Diagnosing fibroids involves:
- An ultrasound scan – this takes an image of the inside of the abdomen which allows any fibroids in the womb to be visualised
- Hysteroscopic examination – this is a procedure to look inside the womb under local or general anaesthetic. A surgeon inserts a tiny telescope into the vagina that is attached to a camera. A picture is shown on the monitor. At the same time, the gynaecologist may look for polyps and also take a small sample of the lining of the womb for testing. This test is often used together with ultrasound scan to confirm diagnosis.
- Laparoscopic examination – this is performed under general anaesthetic, a gynaecologist makes a small cut in the abdomen near the belly button and then inserts a laparoscope (a tube with a light and camera). This allows him/her to look at the size and shape of the outside of the womb and other organs on the monitor. Pictures may also be taken. Often, it is used together with ultrasound to confirm diagnosis.
- MRI and CT – these techniques will only be used when the ultrasound scans have not given a clear result or when a more detailed information is required. MRI& CT are not normally used as first choice for confirmation of fibroids.
Many women with fibroids will have no problems whatsoever and may not even know that they have them. In about 30% of women their fibroids may become large and then interfere with pregnancy or fertility and cause mild to severe symptoms/ they may need treatment
Medications to treat symptoms such as heavy bleeding
Surgery or a medical procedure, such as
- Hysteroscopic resection – where a small camera with a light at the end of it is use to remove the fibroids
- Myomectomy –keyhole surgery that removed on or two fibroids that are five centimetres or smaller that grown on the outside of the womb
- Hysterectomy – removal of the womb
- Endometrial ablation – used to address heavy menstrual bleeding and to remove small fibroids (less than 5cm) that are growing on the lining of the womb. In this procedure the lining of the womb is removed
- Embolisation – blocks the blood vessels to the fibroids, starving them of oxygen and causing them to shrink
- MRI treatments – use MRI to shrink or destroy fibroids
You can reduce your risk of developing fibroids by
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a health weight
- Reducing your red meat consumption
- Eating a diet high in green vegetables
You can download our fibroids booklet here
You can read our research to understand the needs of black women with fibroids here
Related blog posts
- Diet and fibroids prevention
- Exercise and fibroids prevention
- Complementary and Alternative Therapy and Fibroids
- We Host Our First Fibroids Conference
- Fly Girl Facing Fibroids
- My Journey with Fibroids Endometriosis and More
- My Journey with Fibroids Pre and Post Conception
- The Mail Online’s Top Fibroids Specialists
- The APPG Publishes Report on Fibroids and Informed Choice
- The EMA Starts a Review on the Fibroids Drug ESMYA
- High Levels of Testosterone Linked to Fibroids
- Cynthia Bailey from Real Housewives of Atlanta Talks About Fibroids
Learn more and hear personal stories in this video bellow by TOHETI.
Find out more about TOHETI’s work on fibroids here