Uterine Fibroids and Uterine Tumors
Uterine fibroids, or just “fibroids,” are noncancerous muscular growths or tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus and vary in number and size. Uterine fibroids are common during your childbearing years. As many as 3 out of 4 women have uterine fibroids but most are unaware of them because they often cause no symptoms. Your doctor may discover fibroids incidentally during a pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound.
Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids and Uterine Tumors
Most women do not have symptoms of uterine fibroids. Often the fibroids are very small or few in number and don’t cause problems.
In women who do have symptoms of uterine fibroids, especially when there are several fibroids present or the fibroid is very large, the most common symptoms are:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Prolonged menstrual periods
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
- Backache or leg pains
Causes and Risk Factors of Uterine Fibroids and Uterine Tumors
Uterine fibroids develop when a single cell in the muscular tissue of the uterus reproduces repeatedly, eventually creating a pale, firm, rubbery mass or tumor.
It’s not clear what causes the cells to grow and form uterine fibroids but there are possible factors that increase your risk for developing them including:
- Heredity. If your mother or sister had fibroids, you're at increased risk of also developing them.
- Age. Fibroids become more common as women age, especially during the 30s and 40s through menopause. After menopause, fibroids usually shrink.
- Ethnic origin. African-American women are more likely to develop fibroids than white women.
- Obesity. Women who are overweight are at higher risk for fibroids. For very heavy women, the risk is two to three times greater than average.
Tests to Diagnose Uterine Fibroids and Uterine Tumors
Because they rarely cause symptoms, uterine fibroids are frequently found incidentally during a routine pelvic exam. Your doctor may feel irregularities in the shape of your uterus, which could mean you have fibroids.
To confirm diagnosis of uterine fibroids, your doctor may perform:
- Imaging tests to get a clearer picture of your uterus and possible fibroids or tumors.
- Blood tests to rule out bleeding disorders and to determine the levels of reproductive hormones produced by your ovaries.
Treatment and Procedures for Uterine Fibroids and Uterine Tumors
Uterine fibroids seldom require treatment, however, there are treatments for uterine fibroids that are causing serious or problematic symptoms. Rarely, fibroids can require emergency treatment if they cause sudden, sharp pelvic pain or profuse bleeding.
Your doctor will recommend treatment options based on your symptoms.
- Medications to target hormones and regulate your menstrual cycle to reduce bleeding and pelvic pain and possibly shrink your fibroids.
- Minimally invasive procedures that shrink or destroy uterine fibroids by cutting off their blood supply such as myolysis, endometrial ablation, and uterine artery embolization.
- Surgery to remove large or deeply rooted uterine fibroids including myomectomy or hysterectomy
If you think you have uterine fibroids or uterine tumors, talk to the medical team at A Place for Women about possible treatments by calling 321.939.3553.