Fibroids are common tumours of the uterus (womb) found in over 20 % of young women. They are rare in women under the age of 20, most common in women in their 30s and 40s, and tend to shrink after the menopause.
There are firm ball like and may vary in size from pin point to very large. Fibroids are diagnosed by the history, gynaecological examination and sonography.
They are named according to their position in the womb and the symptoms and problems they cause, as well as their management, depend upon their location.
Although the exact cause of Fibroids is unknown, they seem to be influenced by oestrogen. This would explain why they appear during a woman's middle years (when oestrogen levels are high) and stop growing after the menopause (when oestrogen levels drop).
In the past, the contraceptive pill was thought to increase the risk of Fibroids, but that was when the pill contained higher levels of oestrogen than it does today. Some studies suggest that the newer combined pill (oestrogen and progestogen) and the mini pill (progestogen only) may actually help prevent or slow the growth of Fibroids.