Fibroids

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the uterus.  Many women are unaware they have fibroids because they don't have any symptoms. Women who do have symptoms (around one in three) may experience:

  • heavy periods or painful periods
  • tummy (abdominal) pain
  • lower back pain
  • a frequent need to urinate
  • constipation
  • pain or discomfort during sex

In rare cases, fibroids can affect pregnancy or cause infertility.

 

Who gets fibroids?

The exact cause of fibroids is unknown. However, they're linked to the hormone oestrogen. Fibroids most often occur in women aged 30-50 when oestrogen levels are at their highest.  They are very common, with around one in three women developing them at some point in their life.

 

Treating fibroids

Treatment for fibroids isn't necessary if they aren't causing any symptoms. Over time, fibroids will often shrink and disappear without treatment, particularly after the menopause.

If you do have symptoms caused by fibroids, medication to help relieve the symptoms will usually be recommended first.  There are also medications available to help shrink fibroids. If these prove ineffective, surgery or other less invasive procedures may be recommended.

 

Several different surgical procedures can be used to treat fibroids including:

  • Hysterectomy - a surgical procedure to remove the womb.
  • Myomectomy - to remove the fibroids from the wall of your womb. It may be considered as an alternative to a hysterectomy if you still would like to have children.
  • Hysteroscopic resection of fibroids - where a thin telescope (hysteroscope) and small surgical instruments are used to remove fibroids.
  • Hysteroscopic morcellation of fibroids - a relatively new procedure similar to hysteroscopic resection but the hysteroscope is only inserted once, rather than a number of times, reducing the risk of injury to the womb.

 

"Thanks for your amazing care during and after my surgery."

Feedback from a patient who had a myomectomy.

 

Patient case study

 

"Hi everyone, I am nine days post-myomectomy and having found other ladies’ posts about their experiences invaluable, I wanted to return the favour.

Mr Annan removed four intramural fibroids during my myomectomy, the two largest were approximately 9cm x 11cm and 9cm x 9cm so they were HUGE!

Pre-Op

I had an MRI scan done prior to the myo which ruled out adenomyosis and clearly showed the position of the fibroids.  I did not take GNRH prior to the myo as I was told that it was unlikely to make a significant difference to fibroids of the size I had.  I was also told that GNRH softens the edges of the fibroids which can make them more difficult to remove.  I also had a blood test to establish my blood type in case I needed a transfusion and as I am Asian I was also tested for sickle cell (which came out negative).

 

Op Day

I had tea and toast at 10.30 am and did not eat anything after that.  I was admitted to hospital at 3pm and my weight, blood pressure and temperature were checked.  I had already shaved about one inch below my bikini line which the nurse said was perfect for the op.  A physiotherapist also came to see me to explain the best way to get out of bed and roll onto my side post-op.  I was also told the best way to cough post-op and this information proved very useful.  The anaesthetist also came and explained I would have a general anaesthetic and reassured me that they were very keen to avoid blood transfusions.

 

I was taken into theatre at 5.25pm and into the anaesthetic room where the nurses attached sensors to my chest and a clip to my forefinger to monitor my heartbeat.  I had two canulas (very thin tubes) inserted into my left hand to allow the anaesthetist to inject the anaesthetic and for the IV drip..  This did not hurt any more than a normal injection.  The anaesthetist told me when he was injecting the anaesthetic and I don’t remember actually falling asleep. My next memory was waking up in the recovery room and the nurse asking if I needed a pain killer.  The pain was not that bad, it just felt like a really bad period pain, on a scale of 1 to 10 it was about a 6 or 7.  I felt like I needed to go for a wee and asked the nurse but she explained that this was because I had a catheter inserted into my bladder and that if I relaxed after awhile it wouldn’t bother me anymore.  She was right.   

I also had two drains (plastic tubes) coming out of each side of the incision (which was about one inch below my belly button and bandaged up).  I couldn’t really feel the tubes and I was expecting them and had also told my family what to expect so they would not be shocked.  I was back in my room by 8pm and Mr Annan had already spoken to my parents and husband to reassure them that everything had gone very well.  I did not need a blood transfusion (I lost less than a small glass of blood).

That night was fairly uncomfortable as I had a really bad build up of phlegm which I couldn’t clear until the next day using the technique I was shown by the physiotherapist.  I was given morphine injections (in my bum) every four hours to keep the pain under control.  I was also given antibiotics through the IV drip and an anti-nausea drug.  This really worked for me, I had no nausea at all.

 

I was able to stand up and sit in a chair on the first day after the op – felt a bit dizzy on the first attempt to stand.  The catheter and one of the drains were removed on the third day.  The removal of the drains from the incision was quite painful as the drains were quite long and I felt a sharp pain as they were pulled out.  By the fourth day I was free of all the tubes, my bowels had opened and I was feeling really well.  The stitches came out on the sixth day which was fine (I think there were 15 stitches).  Generally I was surprised by how good I felt.  The most difficult things were getting in and out of bed, coughing and backache because I was slouching all the time. 

 

Back home, I am on iron tablets and anti-inflammatory drugs.  My platelet count is low and I am a little anaemic but I feel great.  I will be off work for six weeks, no driving for four weeks and will be able to try to conceive again after eight weeks.  HUGE relief to be on the other side of the operation."

 

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