Uterine fibroids and their implications

Published 14th August 2022 | Dr Ujwala Parashar

A uterine fibroid is a non-cancerous tumour of the uterus (the womb). Also known as “myoma” they develop from muscle tissue of the uterus. In some instances, they may also grow in the fallopian tubes, cervix or in tissues located near the uterus. Uterine fibroids vary greatly in size from seedlings which are so small they cannot be seen with the naked eye to bulky masses up to the size of a melon which can distort and enlarge the uterus. You can have a single or multiple uterine fibroids.

How common are uterine fibroids?

Many women have uterine fibroids at some point in their lifetime, but in most instances, they go undetected as they often cause no symptoms. They are often discovered incidentally by your doctor during a pelvic examination or a prenatal ultrasound screening test.

What causes uterine fibroids?

It is not known what causes uterine fibroids, but the female hormone oestrogen has been linked to fibroid growth. They usually develop during a woman’s childbearing years and are most common in women aged 30 – 40 years but can occur at any age. They may also shrink after menopause because of reduced oestrogen levels.

Are uterine fibroids cancerous?

Uterine fibroids rarely develop into cancer and aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer.

Do uterine fibroids affect fertility?

Uterine fibroids have the potential to impact fertility if they:

·       Block the fallopian tubes which prevents a fertilised egg implanting in the uterus

·       Change the shape of the cervix

·       Change the shape of the uterus

·       Take up too much space in the uterus

What are the signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids?

Many women with uterine fibroids have no symptoms, so they go undetected. For those that do experience symptoms, they are usually influenced by the number of fibroids as well as their size and location. The most common signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids are:

·       Heavy menstrual bleeding

·       Menstrual periods that last for longer than a week

·       Bleeding between periods

·       Feeling of pelvic pressure of pelvic pain

·       Painful periods

·       Painful sex

·       Constipation

·       Leg pains or back ache

·       Difficulty emptying your bladder

·       Frequent urination

In rare instances uterine fibroids can cause acute pain if they outgrow the blood supply and begins to die.

When should I see Dr Ujwala Parashar about uterine fibroids?

Although uterine fibroids are often not dangerous, they can be the cause of discomfort and can lead to other complications such as anaemia if left untreated. 

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should seek a referral from your GP to see Dr Parashar.

·       Ongoing pelvic pain

·       Overly heavy, prolonged, or painful periods

·       Bleeding or blood spotting between periods

·       Difficulty emptying your bladder

·       An unexplained low red blood cell count (anaemia)

It is important that you seek prompt medical attention is you experience severe vaginal bleeding or sharp pelvic pain that comes on suddenly.

Dr Ujwala Parashar, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

Sam Samant

Dr Ujwala Parashar is a highly trained female obstetrician and gynaecologist with over 15 years of professional experience and training, practicing in Sydney's North Shore and Barangaroo. If you would like more information on conception, or if you are seeking obstetric options and advice, please contact us or call 1300 811 827 to arrange a consultation with her.