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What are fibroids?

Fibroids are abnormal growths that form within or on the uterus. These growths can vary in size and sometimes lead to severe abdominal pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. However, in many cases, they remain asymptomatic.

Typically benign, the exact cause of fibroids is still unknown. They are referred to by various names such as uterine fibroids, fibromas, myomas, leiomyomas, or uterine myomas.

According to the Office on Women’s Health, fibroids affect approximately 20% to 80% of women by the age of 50. However, a significant portion of those affected may remain unaware of their presence due to the absence of symptoms.

Types of fibroids:

Intramural Fibroids

Develop within the muscular wall of the uterus, often causing heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and frequent urination. They can enlarge the uterus and potentially cause fertility issues by distorting the uterine cavity.

Subserosal Fibroids

Located on the outer surface of the uterus, these fibroids can grow large and cause pelvic pain, pressure, and symptoms such as difficulty urinating or constipation due to pressure on adjacent organs.

Submucosal Fibroids

Found just beneath the uterine lining, these fibroids often cause heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged periods, and fertility issues. They protrude into the uterine cavity, distorting its shape and causing significant symptoms.

Pedunculated Fibroids

Attached to the uterine wall by a narrow stalk, these fibroids can twist and cause sudden, sharp pain. Their mobility within the pelvic cavity distinguishes them from other types.

Cervical Fibroids

Develop in the cervix, causing symptoms such as difficulty urinating, frequent urination, pain during intercourse, and abnormal bleeding. They are less common and can affect the passageway from the uterus to the vagina.

Intracavitary Fibroids

Located inside the uterine cavity, these fibroids cause heavy menstrual bleeding, severe cramping, and fertility issues. They distort the uterine cavity and can lead to recurrent miscarriages.

Fibroids symptoms

The symptoms you experience will vary based on the number, location, and size of the fibroids present in your uterus. For example, submucosal fibroids can lead to heavy menstrual bleeding and difficulties in conception.

If the fibroids are small or if you're going through menopause, you might not experience any symptoms at all. In fact, fibroids may even shrink during and after menopause due to the decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels, which are known to stimulate fibroid growth.

Some common symptoms associated with fibroids include:

  • Heavy bleeding between or during periods
  • Passing menstrual clots
  • Longer-than-usual menstrual periods
  • Increased menstrual cramps
  • Pelvic or lower back pain
  • Sensation of pressure or fullness in the lower abdomen
  • Swelling or enlargement of the abdomen
  • More frequent urination
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

Causes of fibroids

The exact reasons behind the development of fibroids remain uncertain. However, several factors may contribute to their formation:

Hormones: Estrogen and progesterone, produced by the ovaries, play crucial roles in the menstrual cycle by prompting the regeneration of the uterine lining and fostering fibroid growth.

Family history: There's a possibility that fibroids may be hereditary. If your mother, sister, or grandmother has a history of fibroids, you might be predisposed to developing them as well.

Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of fibroid development, including:

  • Having a family history of fibroids
  • Being aged 30 or older
  • Having a higher body weight

Moreover, individuals of African American descent are at a higher risk of developing fibroids compared to those of other ethnic backgrounds.

Fibroids diagnosis

To obtain a precise diagnosis, scheduling an appointment with Elite Gynecology Center for a pelvic examination is essential. During this examination, our gynecologist will assess the condition, size, and shape of your uterus.

Additional imaging tests may also be required.

Ultrasound imaging employs high-frequency sound waves to generate detailed images of your uterus on a monitor. This enables our healthcare professionals to examine the internal structures of your uterus and identify any fibroids present.

For enhanced clarity, a transvaginal ultrasound may be recommended, as it involves inserting an ultrasound wand into the vagina, providing closer proximity to the uterus during the procedure.

In certain cases, a pelvic MRI may be necessary. This comprehensive imaging test produces detailed images of your uterus, ovaries, and other pelvic organs, aiding in a thorough evaluation of your condition.