Video: Are fibroids cancerous?

Any growth in your womb can be worrying, but fibroids are generally not a cause for major concern. They are however likely to lead to many questions, which our experts have attempted to answer.

Are fibroids cancerous?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info

Fibroids are growths of the muscle that lines the womb, but they are not cancerous nor do they ever turn into cancer. In fact about two in three women who have fibroids never even know that they got them.

Can fibroids cause miscarriages?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info

Lots of women have miscarriages, lots of women have fibroids, but actually the two usually aren’t connected. Occasionally fibroids perhaps reduce the amount of blood supply to an embryo or make it difficult for that embryo to implant and grow, can give rise to miscarriage.

Can fibroids cause infertility?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info

Fibroids are really common. About one in four women probably gets them at some stage and in the vast majority of cases they don’t cause problem with your fertility. But sometimes that muscle growth can stop sperm from being able to get into the womb effectively.

Sometimes they can block the entrance to the fallopian tubes which is where the fertilised egg comes down in order to get into the womb. And sometimes, especially, if you have lot of fibroids, it can make it difficult for that fertilised egg to find anywhere to implant in your womb and start to grow

How many fibroids is too many?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info

Fibroids are benign and non-cancerous growth of the womb. You can have either one or you can have lots. And when I mean lots I mean dozens, sometimes. However there is no real definition of how many is too many, because one women might have one large fibroid which cause severe problems. Other women might have dozens of tiny fibroids which don’t cause any symptoms at all. In fact two out of three women and some women with lots of fibroids don’t get any symptoms at all.

How many fibroids can a woman have?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info

Fibroids are non-cancerous benign growth of the womb, specifically, the muscle that lines the womb. You can have dozens of them and they very much depend in terms of how many problems they cause, on their size.

Many women will have dozens of tiny almost pea sized growths and they won’t cause any symptoms at all, where some women will have one very large fibroid that can distort the cavity of the womb or grow outside the womb which can cause heavy bleeding, pain and sometimes other problems.

How are fibroids removed?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info

There are several treatments for fibroids which include medical treatments, tablets or hormones and surgical treatments. There are kind of some in between which don’t remove the fibroids but shrink them. One of these is called the uterine artery embolisation where basically we cut of the blood supply to the fibroids so that it withers and fades away.

Another is called MRI focus ultrasound where high powered beams of ultrasound are directed at the fibroids using MRI control. Alternatively, key hole surgery or in the case of bigger fibroids, open surgery where the wall of the tummy is cut open, can be used to remove the fibroids. This is called myomectomy. As a last resort, and these days not very often done is hysterectomy, where the whole womb is removed.

How much can fibroids grow?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info

There is a huge variation in the possible size of fibroids. Some women have lots of very small fibroids even as small as a pea. In some women however one single fibroid can grow into an enormous size, sometimes, up to maybe a 6 months size womb. Incase it is like this, it is highly likely you will be having symptoms including bloating of your tummy, pressure on your bladder, sometimes on your bowel, it can affect your fertility and of course heavy sometime painful periods.

Do fibroids shrink after the menopause?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info

Fibroids are benign non-cancerous growths of the muscle layer of the womb. They largely depend on oestrogen, the female hormone for their growth. So they tend to be most problematic from about the age of your early twenties until about the menopause. After the menopause, these fibroids will almost always shrink. They may disappear completely but they certainly shouldn’t cause problems in most people. But the only exception is if you take hormone treatment like HRT which contains oestrogen, this can keep the fibroids going.

Do fibroids bleed?

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info

About one in three women who have fibroids get symptoms from them and by far the most common symptom is heavy sometimes painful periods. Usually fibroids do not cause bleeding between your periods. If you do get irregular bleeding between your periods or bleeding after the menopause you should always get it checked out.

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