Fibroids do not usually cause any serious problems in the long term.
They can have a serious effect on quality of life and may lead to anaemia, which can be very exhausting.
They may enlarge during the reproductive years and cause a large swelling of the abdomen. In so doing they may also produce bowel and urinary symptoms. Women who are trying to get pregnant also get rather fed up with being asked if they are!
They may also press on large veins in the pelvis leading to partial occlusion. This can rarely lead to lower limb swelling and deep vein thrombosis. Fibroids may also partially occlude the kidneys leading to a deterioration in kidney function.
All of these complications are rare and in the vast majority of case women can live with their fibroids which will decrease in size after the menopause.
Many women with large troublesome fibroids will ask to have them removed or may indeed opt for a hysterectomy once they have finished having children.
In women who wish to take HRT fibroids may continue to be an issue and may still need to removed later in life.
Cancerous fibroids are very rare and probably occur in less that 1:1000 women with fibroids. It is not thought that fibroids become malignant, rather that they start out that way in rare cases.
Both Ultrasound and MRI are very useful in trying to differentiate between benign and malignant fibroids. No test is perfect and it is best to keep fibroids under review.