Sydney Fibroid Clinic

What are uterine fibroids?


Fibroids are common benign (non-cancerous) tumours in women. Up to 25% of women of reproductive age may harbour one or more fibroids. Not all women with fibroids suffer from symptoms. Between 10-40% women with fibroid develop symptoms and requires treatments.



What are the symptoms of fibroids?


Symptoms of fibroids include heavy periods, bulky uterus and period pain.


Fibroids may distort the inner lining of the uterus and cause heavy periods, requiring frequent change of pads and tampons, use of large pads, sometime pads and tampons. You might be concerned about soiling clothing and feeling anxious about travelling, work and exercise, limiting your work and social activities. Prolonged heavy periods may lead to anaemia. You might feel tired, worn out, as if energy has been drained out of your body. Your GP might have suggested iron supplement. Severe anaemia can cause shortness of breath, palpitation and heart failure. Blood transfusion is needed if your haemoglobin is dangerously low.


Fibroids can make your uterus bulky. You might feel a protrusion in your lower tummy, making you feel as you have put on weight. The uterus is sitting on top of the bladder and therefore limiting the bladder capacity. You might find that you urinate more often during daytime and start to wake up to pass urine at night. You often need to rush to a toilet and sometimes you might loose control with coughing, sneezing and exercise.


Fibroid can cause period pain as well. Many women reported substantial relief of their period pain following UFE.



How do I know if I needed treatment?


Every one is different. A thin individual might find the fibroids more noticeable than a larger person. Someone who has a sensitive bladder may have bladder symptoms with quite average sized fibroids. Fibroids are benign tumours that require treatment only when symptoms are bothering you and affecting your quality of life. Of course if the heavy periods are limiting your activities or causing anaemia you should consider treatment.



Can fibroids be malignant?


Fibroids are not malignant (cancerous). Extremely rarely, malignant tumour can develop in uterus. It is called leiomyosarcoma. It is found in 2-5 per thousand hysterectomies and 4 per thousand cases of uterine fibroid embolisation. Fear of sarcoma should not be normally construed as a reason for hysterectomy. Hysterectomy itself has a mortality rate of 0.5-4 per thousand and there are other adverse effects of hysterectomy. Therefore the downside of hysterectomy significantly outweighs the very small risk of missing a sarcoma. (Please see Hysterectomy Side-effects). Rate of growth, size of the fibroid, utrasound and MRI cannot reliably diagnose sarcoma. Failure to respond to embolisation, especially continuing growth and pain, are warning signs. Therefore it is important to attend imaging follow-ups after UFE.