Growing Pains

Fibroids are usually harmless, but can cause great distress when they grow out
of hand. Find out how to tackle this increasingly common health issue so that
your quality of life won't be compromised.

omen have many health concerns, and fibroids are among the most prevalent of them. Comprising muscle and fibrous tissue, these benign growths usually form in the uterus during a woman’s childbearing years – between the ages of 20 and 50 – and tend to grow larger or more numerous until menopause.

Although fibroids don’t normally lead to fatal illnesses, letting them grow unchecked can result in debilitating symptoms that diminish your quality of life, and in serious cases, even make you less fertile.

Size matters
According to Dr Kelly Loi, an obstetrician
and gynaecologist accredited with
Mount Elizabeth Hospital, a fibroid can
vary from the size of a grape to that of
a watermelon, and a woman may have

anywhere from just one or two fibroids
to as many as 10 to 20. “When fibroids
are few and small, there aren’t usually
any symptoms. But when they grow large
enough, some very unpleasant and distressing symptoms can manifest,” she says.

A large fibroid can affect the uterine lining and cause heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding, which is not only uncomfortable but also potentially embarrassing. Another common symptom is pain in the lower abdomen or a dull ache in the lower back during your period or during sexual intercourse. If the growths become large enough, they may press on the bladder, causing discomfort and the urge to urinate more.

"Large fibroids may also cause miscarriages by preventing a fertilised egg from attaching to the uterine lining,

or worse, block a fallopian tube or entrance to the uterus, making it close to impossible for conception to occur,” explains Dr Loi. During pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations can cause fibroids to increase in size. This may not only cause the mother severe pain, but also impair the baby’s growth, and lead to complications during labour and delivery.

Fighting Fibroids

With appropriate medical care and treatment, fibroid sufferers can lead fulfilling lives. At Mount Elizabeth Hospital, you’ll receive the most comprehensive treatments to help manage your fibroid condition and improve your quality of life.

  • After the initial diagnosis, your doctor will ask you to return every few months for ultrasound scans to ensure that the fibroids remain stable in size, while also providing early detection of any abnormal growth that could indicate a cyst or cancer.

  • Your doctor may also prescribe suitable medical treatment to help you manage heavy or painful menstrual bleeding.

  • In more severe cases where medication proves ineffective, minimally invasive surgery like laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery or operative hysteroscopy can be performed.

  • Laparoscopic surgery involves making a small incision at the belly button and removing the fibroid(s) through this incision, while operative hysteroscopy involves removing the fibroid(s) through the cervix. “As these surgical methods are much less invasive than traditional surgery, they are less painful and allow the patient to recover faster,” says Dr Loi.

For more information or to make an appointment
with the specialists at Mount Elizabeth Hospital,
call their 24-Hour Helpline at 6250-0000.
Visit www.mountelizabeth.com.sg to find out more.