Expert advice

Dr Caroline West: GP

Dr Caroline West combines her role in a busy inner-city general medical practice with presenting, producing and writing for a number of Australian television shows and magazines. ASK ME A QUESTION


Thursday, November 6, 2003
Fibroids are benign tumours that grow in the muscle wall of the uterus (womb).

I am 37 and I have just been diagnosed with fibroids in my uterus. I went to my GP for a Pap smear and she said my uterus was a bit big and then she sent me for an ultrasound, which showed two fibroids. Will this be a problem for having children later? I have not yet had children, but I'd like to.

Fibroids are benign tumours that grow in the muscle wall of the uterus (womb). They are incredibly common and about 30 percent of women in their 30s have them, and about 40 percent of women in their 40s have fibroids. Often they don't cause any particular problems or symptoms. Women are often unaware they even have a fibroid until it's picked up on a routine pelvic examination.

Whether fibroids are problematic or not may depend on their size and location. Some women with fibroids may experience heavier, longer periods, pressure on the bladder with the need to pass small amounts of urine frequently or pelvic discomfort. Fertility problems can also be an issue for some women, particularly if the fibroids are large or if they distort the inner cavity of the uterus. However it's encouraging to remember that many women with fibroids go on to have successful pregnancies. Certainly if future fertility is an issue, your doctor will be mindful of offering you the most appropriate advice or treatment.

In some instances fibroids are just left alone and a "wait and see" approach is adopted. Other times they may be shrunk or removed through medication, by blocking the fibroid's blood supply (arterial embolisation) or surgery. If you are interested in knowing more about your particular situation, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor for more information.1808

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