What are uterine fibroids and polyps?

Uterine fibroids are tissue growths that form a mass in the uterus. Polyps, on the other hand, are bulges of tissue which grow on the uterine ling – otherwise known as the endometrium. Both these growths may multiply and become large or remain relatively small. These growths are usually non-cancerous.

What causes fibroids and polyps?

It is unsure what exactly causes fibroids and polyps to grow, however, it is believed that the female hormones progesterone and estrogen play a role. The following aspects may increase your chances of developing fibroids or polyps:

  • During your 30s and 40s developing fibroids is more common. From 40 to 50 years old you are more likely to develop polyps.
  • Having a history of uterine fibroids in your family increases your chance of developing fibroids.
  • Women who are overweight are at higher risk of developing these growths.
  • Women who consume a lot of red meat seem to increase their risk of developing fibroids.
  • High blood pressure appears to increase the risk of developing polyps.

What are the symptoms associated with fibroids and polyps?

Although different in structure, these abnormalities often cause the following symptoms:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Painful and heavy periods (Menorrhagia)
  • Lower back pain
  • Difficult urination
  • Recurrent miscarriages or infertility
  • Postmenopausal bleeding
  • Bleeding after exercise or intercourse

How can fibroids be treated?

These abnormal growths can be detected using ultrasound, and hysteroscopy or even a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or computerised tomography (CT) if need be.

Depending on size, location and number of the fibroids, as well as whether or not you would like to fall pregnant or not in the future; treatment options may vary. Treatment may include:

  • Pain medications to relieve the symptoms
  • Birth control to reduce heavy bleeding
  • Surgical removal of the fibroids (otherwise known as a myomectomy)
  • Uterine artery embolisation surgery in order to cut the blood supply to the growths
  • Ultrasound therapy in order to destroy growths
  • Hysterectomy