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Am I at risk of fibroids?

About 40% of women develop fibroids at some time in their life. Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumours that grow in or around the wall of the uterus and can range in size and number.

You are most at risk from fibroids:

  • If you are between the ages of 30 to 50 years old
  • If you are overweight
  • If you started puberty early
  • If you have not had children
  • If you have high blood pressure
  • If there is a family history of fibroids
  • If you are of African Caribbean origin

Symptoms to watch for:

Most women who have fibroids do not have symptoms, so they are not a concern and go unnoticed. However, one in three woman experience fibroids with symptoms.

They include:

  • Heavy, painful periods
  • Abdominal pain
  • Frequent urination and constipation
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Fatigue
  • Iron-deficiency anaemia

In rare cases, fibroids can cause:

  • Problems getting pregnant
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of miscarriage

What triggers fibroids?

The exact cause of fibroids is not known but they are linked to the female hormone oestrogen, which is why fibroids usually develop during the child-bearing years. They tend to shrink in size when oestrogen levels are low and increase in size when oestrogen levels are high - such as during pregnancy.

As most don’t cause symptoms - they don’t require treatment and many can shrink and disappear on their own.

Fibroids are often diagnosed by chance during a check-up for another problem.  Doctors can detect fibroids with an ultrasound or transvaginal scan, hysteroscopy, or laparoscopy.

Your doctor may recommend medication or the contraceptive pill. In more severe cases, fibroids can be removed surgically ( hysterectomy or myomectomy) or with procedures such as endometrial ablation or uterine artery embolisation (UAE).

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on May 07, 2013

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