Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids are benign (noncancerous) growths in the wall of the uterus. The uterus is the organ where a fetus grows during pregnancy. Fibroids are common. They may be very small or they could grow to eight or more inches in diameter. Most fibroids remain inside the uterus. Sometimes, they may stick out and affect nearby organs. It is common for there to be more than one fibroid.

  • Causes

    The cause of fibroids is unknown.

    Fibroid growth is stimulated by female reproductive hormones. As a result:

    • Fibroids grow larger during pregnancy then shrink after childbirth.

    • Fibroids become less of a problem after
      menopause
      . However, symptoms may return with
      hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

    Genetics may make some women more prone to fibroids. Substances that control blood vessel growth may also affect fibroid growth.

  • Definition

    Fibroids are benign (noncancerous) growths in the wall of the uterus. The uterus is the organ where a fetus grows during pregnancy.

    Fibroids are common. They may be very small or they could grow to eight or more inches in diameter. Most fibroids remain inside the uterus. Sometimes, they may stick out and affect nearby organs. It is common for there to be more than one fibroid.

    Uterine Fibroid
    IMAGE
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  • Diagnosis

    Most fibroids are found during routine pelvic exams.

    Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

    • Abdominal ultrasound
    • Transvaginal ultrasound
    • CT scan
      or
      MRI scan
    • Hysteroscopy

  • Prevention

    There are no guidelines for preventing fibroids.

  • Risk Factors

    African American women are at increased risk. Other factors that affect your risk of fibroids include:

    • Risk increases with age until menopause
    • Family history

    Obesity and high blood pressure may also be linked to fibroids.

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms range from none at all to mild or severe. This depends on the size and location of the growths.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Pelvic pain
    • Feeling of pelvic pressure
    • Heavy menstrual bleeding
    • Clots in menstrual flow
    • Long periods
    • Bleeding between periods
    • Increased cramping during periods
    • Pain during sex
    • Frequent need to urinate
    • Constipation
    • Bloating
    • Abdominal swelling
    • Low back or leg pain
    • Infertility
      by blocking the fallopian tubes
    • Miscarriage

    Iron-deficiency anemia
    may develop if bleeding is heavy.
    This is low levels of red blood cells. It will affect the amount of oxygen your blood can carry.

  • Treatment

    Most women with fibroids have no symptoms and do not need treatment. Your doctor may recommend monitoring any changes on a regular basis. Treatment may be done later if needed.

    Treatments include:

    Other options include:

    • Uterine fibroid embolization—This is a minimally invasive procedure. It blocks blood flow to the fibroids. This will make the fibroids shrink.
    • Focused ultrasound therapy—Energy is centered on the fibroid to destroy it. This procedure may not be ideal for patients who are very overweight, have very large fibroids, or have extensive scars from prior abdominal surgeries.


    If you are diagnosed with uterine fibroids, follow your doctor's
    instructions
    .