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Uterine fibroids

Definition

Uterine fibroids are tumors that grow in a woman's womb (uterus). These growths are not cancer (benign).

Alternative Names

Leiomyoma; Fibromyoma; Myoma; Fibroids

Causes

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:

Symptoms

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.

Exams and Tests

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:

Treatment

What type of treatment you have depends on:

Treatment for the symptoms of fibroids may include:

Surgery and procedures used to treat fibroids include:

Support Groups

National Uterine Fibroid Foundation - www.nuff.org

Outlook (Prognosis)

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.

Possible Complications

Complications of fibroids include:

If you are pregnant, there's a small risk that fibroids also may cause complications:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have:

References

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG practice bulletin. Alternatives to hysterectomy in the management of leiomyomas. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:387-400.

Borkan J. Uterine Fibroids. In: Ferri F.: Ferri's Clinical Advisor. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2014 Section 1 U.

Katz VL. Benign gynecologic lesions: Vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, oviduct, ovary. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 18.

Rodriguez MI, Warden M, Darney PD. Intrauterine progestins, progesterone antagonists, and receptor modulators: a review of gynecologic applications. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010 May;202(5):420-8. Epub 2009 Dec 23. Review.

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.

Peddada SD, Laughlin SK, Miner K, et al. Growth of uterine leiomyomata among premenopausal black and white women. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008 Dec 16;105(50):19887-92. Epub 2008 Dec 1.

Van Voorhis B. A 41-year-old woman with menorrhagia, anemia, and fibroids: review of treatment of uterine fibroids. JAMA. 2009;301:82-93.



Review Date: 8/5/2013
Reviewed 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.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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