Uterine fibroids are abnormal rounded balls of muscle that form and enlarge within the wall of the uterus in women who have not yet gone through the menopause. Usually, there are multiple fibroids and they can vary in size. It is unknown why they form and they are not cancerous.
You may experience pain, pressure or abnormal menstrual bleeding, which may increase in volume, duration or frequency. You may also find that the fibroid causes pressure on your bladder or rectum.
If you have large fibroids, your doctor may suspect this after physically examining you, but most fibroids are diagnosed by ultrasound. In some cases, when planning treatment, the doctor will use MRI to characterise the fibroids and assess their response to therapy.
There are a number of treatments available, some of which will preserve your uterus and some of which will not. The treatment you will be prescribed depends on your age and if you are planning to have a baby.
Techniques which preserve your uterus include blocking the blood supply to the uterus through a small artery hole (uterine fibroid embolisation) or removing the fibroid (myomectomy). You may be given hormonal treatments for the fibroids.
If you wish to have a treatment that does not preserve your uterus, you may be advised to have a hysterectomy.