Should I have fibroids removed?

Q: My doctor says I have fibroids in my womb. Should I get them removed?

Fibroids are muscular growths that arise in the uterus (womb).

It is also known as leiomyomas or simply, myomas (pronounced as my-yom-ma). No one knows exactly why they grow, but their growth is related to female hormones such as estrogen and progestogen.

They are fairly common too. In some estimates, as many as 30 per cent of women will have fibroids if an ultrasound scan of the pelvis is performed for everyone.

Fibroids come in all sizes.

They can be detected when they are as small as 1 cm and grow to more than 20 cm. The chance of a fibroid being cancerous is very small - less than 0.2%.

So small fibroids that do not cause any symptoms such as heavy menses, discomfort or increased urinary frequency do not need to be removed.

These small fibroids can be managed with regular scans to check if they continue to enlarge. If the fibroids enlarge or start causing symptoms, then you will need to discuss how to manage them with your doctor.

Most fibroids do not impair fertility. In some rare instances, the site of the fibroid can cause the fallopian tubes to be blocked and so may need to be removed.

Dr Fong Yoke Fai, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the National University Hospital.