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Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are the most common benign (non-cancerous) tumors in women – it is actually the growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. Fibroids sometimes called “leiomyoma” or “leiomyomata” or “myoma” or “fibromyoma”. Shape and location of fibroids can vary greatly. Size and number of fibroids can be different – from few cm to dozens cm and from one to multiple. Sometimes fibroids grow as big as 5-6 months pregnancy.

During different periods of women life fibroids can grow or shrink. Usually after menopause they slowly “disappear” as fast as levels of estrogen went down. During pregnancy fibroids grow dramatically because of the increase in estrogen levels and after delivery fibroids shrink back to their original size.

Uterine fibroids – who can get it

Clear cause of fibroids is not identified but the grow of these tumors depends on levels of estrogens (female hormones). Fibroids are more common after 35-40.

Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids – types

Classification of fibroids is based on location:

  • Myometrial (intramural) fibroids – develop in the muscular wall of the uterus;
  • Submucosal fibroids – locate under the interior surface of the uterus;
  • Subserosal fibroids – usually grow on the outside wall of the uterus;
  • Pedunculated fibroids – typically found outside of the uterus and usually attached to the uterus by a base or stalk.

Uterine fibroids – symptoms

While some fibroids don’t cause any symptoms, their size and location can lead to severe symptoms and problems. Most common symptoms include the following:

  • Heavy long menstrual periods (sometimes bleeding during periods which could lead to anemia);
  • Menstrual cramps,
  • Bloating or fullness in the belly or pelvis;
  • Pelvic pain and pressure;
  • Bladder pressure and frequent urination;
  • Back pain and pain in legs;
  • Pressure on the bowel and constipation;
  • Pain during sexual contacts;
  • Fertility problems (miscarriage, infertility);
  • Uterus and abdominal enlargement.

Uterine fibroids – diagnosis

Diagnosis should be done in specialized clinic equipped with certain equipments. Most common diagnostic exams include the following:

  • Pelvic exam;
  • Ultrasound and ultrasonography (sonohysterogram);
  • Hysterosalpingography;
  • Hysteroscopy;
  • Uterine biopsy;
  • MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging);
  • Laparoscopy.

Uterine fibroids – complications

Sometimes women with fibroids could have severe pain because some fibroids that are attached to the uterus by a stem could twist and cause pain, nausea and even fever.

Sudden pain and abdominal enlargement could be noted in women with fast grow of multiple fibroids.

Large fibroid could cause abdominal swelling which is kind of obstacle/discomfort for pelvic exam.

Sometimes fibroids cause infertility.

Uterine fibroids – treatment

Treatment of fibroids can be complicated and could include several surgical and hormonal methods.

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