Uterine fibroids are tumors that grow in a woman's womb (uterus). These growths are not cancer (benign).
Uterine fibroids are common. As many as 1 in 5 women may have fibroids during their childbearing years. Half of all women have fibroids by age 50.
Fibroids are rare in women under age 20. They are more common in African-Americans than Caucasians.
No one knows exactly what causes fibroids. They are thought to be caused by:
Fibroids can be so tiny that you need a microscope to see them. They can also grow very large. They may fill the entire uterus and may weigh several pounds. Although it is possible for just one fibroid to develop, usually there are more than one.
Fibroids can grow:
Common symptoms of uterine fibroids are:
Often, you can have fibroids and not have any symptoms. Your health care provider may find them during a physical exam or other test. Fibroids often shrink and cause no symptoms in women who have gone through menopause. A recent study also showed that some small fibroids shrink in premenopausal women.
Your health care provider will perform a pelvic exam. This may show that you have a change in the shape of your womb.
Fibroids aren't always easy to diagnose. Being obese may make fibroids harder to detect. Your doctor may do these tests to look for fibroids:
If you have unusual bleeding, your doctor may do one of these procedures:
What type of treatment you have depends on:
Treatment for the symptoms of fibroids may include:
Surgery and procedures used to treat fibroids include:
National Uterine Fibroid Foundation - www.nuff.org
If you have fibroids without symptoms, you may not need treatment.
If you have fibroids, they may grow if you become pregnant. This is due to the increased blood flow and higher estrogen levels. The fibroids usually return to their original size after your baby is born.
Complications of fibroids include:
If you are pregnant, there's a small risk that fibroids also may cause complications:
Call your health care provider if you have:
Leiomyoma; Fibromyoma; Myoma; Fibroids
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Moss J, Cooper K, Khaund A, et al. Randomised comparison of uterine artery embolisation (UAE) with surgical treatment in patients with symptomatic uterine fibroids (REST trial): 5-year results. BJOG. 2011 Jul;118(8):936-944.
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Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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