Fibroids are common benign tumours of the uterus (womb) that occur in up to 50% of all women. This tumours are most common in women between ages 30 and 50, although some women in their 20s may be diagnosed with it. Fibroids are also known as leiomyoma, myoma, and fibromyoma.
In most women the fibroids do not cause symptoms or problems and so they are usually not aware of its presence. Fibroids have the same smooth muscle fibres that are present in the uterine wall (myometrium), but they are many times denser than normal myometrium. The size of a fibroid can vary from the size of a pea to as large as a basketball. The shape of these tumours is usually round or semi-round in shape, firm in texture and they tend to be pink in colour. Many women have more than one fibroid and some may have as many as a hundred. Although they are considered as tumours, most of the fibroids are not cancerous or malignant.
Uterine fibroids can be described based upon their position inside the uterus such as:
- Subserosal fibroids: These fibroids are found below the serosa (the lining membrane on the outside of uterus). They can be present on the outside surface of the uterus or may be pedunculated (that is attached to the outside surface by a pedicle).
- Submucosal (submucous) fibroids: They are present inside the uterus beneath its inner lining.
- Intramural fibroids: These fibroids grow inside the muscular wall of the uterus and are the most common type of fibroid.
The growth of fibroids is probably influenced by oestrogen hence after menopause the size of the fibroids may decrease and it increases during pregnancy and with oral contraceptives. Fibroid does not develop in girls who have not reached puberty, and is rare in adolescent girls.
Treatment of fibroid depends on its symptoms. Women with no symptoms do not need any treatment. Your doctor may advise regular follow up to monitor the size and growth of the fibroids and to ensure that there are no indicators of cancer. Symptomatic fibroids can be treated both with medications and surgery. Your doctor will discuss all the options and then recommend treatment which is best for you.