Do you have fibroids? Or do you suspect that you might have fibroids? They are surprisingly common with 1 in 3 women developing them at some point. Fibroids are often called a “hidden epidemic” because it is estimated that as many as 77% of women could have fibroids.
Get informed and understand fibroids better to empower yourself and your fertility. Find out the 7 things you must know about fibroids if you’re trying to conceive.
1. What Are Fibroids?
Fibroids (also known as leiomyoma or myoma) are non-cancerous growths that are found in or on the womb (uterus). They are also known as leiomyomata, myomas or uterine polyps. They are made up of muscle and fibrous tissue and are classified by their location. They vary in size from the size of pea to the size of a watermelon.
2. What Are The Different Types Of Fibroids?
There are different types and sizes of fibroids, both of these factors determine if the fibroid will create problems with getting pregnant.
- Submucosal fibroid – Submucosal fibroids are found on the inner wall of the womb and grow from the womb lining (endometrium). Only 10% of fibroids are submucosal.
- Intramural fibroid – Intramural fibroids grow within the muscle wall of the womb.
- Subserosal fibroid – A subserosal fibroid are on the outside womb wall, underneath the peritoneum. These are the most common fibroids.
- Pedunculated fibroids (Subserosal & Submucosal) – attach to the womb by a narrow stalk of tissue.
- Sizes – can range from the size of a pea to a watermelon.
3. Why Do Women Get Fibroids?
It is not fully understood why fibroids develop, but it is thoughts that contributing factors include:
- Low vitamin D.
- Excess oestrogen.
4. Who Is At Risk Of Getting Fibroids?
- Age – Fibroids are very common with 1 in 3 women having fibroids, normally between the ages of 30 and 50.
- Ethnicity – Women of colour are 2 to 3 times more likely to get fibroids, experiencing bigger fibroids and getting them at a younger age. This could be due to low vitamin D, but it is still not fully understood.
- Weight – Women who are overweight or have oestrogen dominance are also more likely to get fibroids because of the increased levels of oestrogen.
- Increased oestrogen – anything that exposes you to more oestrogen can make you more at risk of developing fibroids, such as taking the pill or drinking alcohol.
- Family history – If fibroids run in your family then you are more likely to have them too. If your mother had fibroids, then you are three times more likely to have them.
5. What Symptoms Do You Get From Fibroids?
Fibroid symptoms are similar to the symptoms of endometriosis.
- Long and heavy periods.
- Anaemic – dizzy, tired and short of breath.
- Bleeding between periods.
- Pelvic pain and pressure – bloating or swelling.
- Pain during intercourse.
- Low back pain.
- Frequent urination.
6. How Are Fibroids Diagnosed?
In many cases, fibroids are discovered during a routine pelvic exam. There are tests that can confirm fibroids, determine their size and location.
- Pelvic exam.
7. Can You Still Get Pregnant With Fibroids?
The larger the fibroid, the more problems it will cause. Small fibroids (the size of a pea) are often unnoticed, have no symptoms, don’t need treating and don’t stop you from getting pregnant. Larger fibroid could be stopping you from getting pregnant or be causing you to have miscarriages.
- Pregnancy – Large subserosal fibroids (more than 6cm) growing on the outside of the womb can push against the fallopian tubes and block the egg from reaching the sperm.
- Implantation – Submucosal fibroids that grow into the womb make it more difficult for the embryo to implant. The more fibroids and the bigger they are, the harder it is for the embryo to implant.
- Miscarriage – Fibroids that are larger than 5cm can cause problems during pregnancy because they push against blood vessels and can prevent the baby from developing properly.
All my best,
Rachel Bolton BSc (Hons), Lic. Ac., Lic. Tui Na.
I empower women to see themselves as Fertility Heroes and help them to optimise their fertility, get pregnant and have healthy babies.
NHS (Retrieved 10th November 2020). Fibroids. Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/fibroids/
The British Fibroid Trust (Retrieved 12th November 2020) What Is Fibroid? Source: http://www.britishfibroidtrust.org.uk
The Royal College Of Obstetricians And Gynaecologists (Retrieved on 10th November 2020) Fibroids. Source: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/fertility/female-problems/fibroids/