Women’s Health A-Z
Uterine fibroids, which are muscular growths on your uterus, are very common, and they are usually benign. Between 20 to 80 percent of women develop them before the age of 50, and they usually do not cause any problems or symptoms. In fact, many women never know they even have uterine fibroids. Like many gynecological conditions, doctors are not sure what causes fibroids, but genetics and reproductive hormones may be factors.
The location, size, and the number of fibroids can vary among women. These factors all mean that symptoms can vary as well. If you do have symptoms, you may experience the following:
- Heavy periods that last longer than a week
- Frequent urination and difficulty emptying your bladder
- Pain in your back, legs, or pelvis
- Pain during intercourse
- Enlargement of your lower abdomen and a feeling of fullness
Diagnosis & Treatment
Since many women do not have symptoms, fibroids are often found during routine pelvic exams. If symptoms are present, an ultrasound can give your physician a picture of your uterus to show if you have uterine fibroids.
Oftentimes, the best treatment for uterine fibroids is to wait and see if they grow or cause problems since they frequently do not cause any complications or symptoms. If there are complications or symptoms, however, treatment may include the following:
- Medications that block estrogen and progesterone, a progestin IUD, or medication to help with heavy periods
- Minimally-invasive procedures that may involve cutting off blood flow to the fibroids, removing the fibroids, or destroying the lining of the uterus to decrease or end menstrual bleeding
- Traditional surgery to remove the surgery or hysterectomy, which removes the uterus and ends your ability to have children