What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Fibroid tumor treatment

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths in the uterus, and are diagnosed by pelvic examination and ultrasound. Many women who have fibroids are unaware of this fact, as they experience no symptoms, requiring no fibroid treatments. Depending on the size of fibroids, their location within the uterus, and how close they are to other organs, fibroids may cause many unpleasant symptoms.

What are the symptoms of fibroids?

The most common signs and symptoms of fibroids are prolonged or abnormal menstrual bleeding, pressure or pain in the pelvis, legs, or back, frequent urination, and constipation. Symptoms may vary depending on the type of fibroids.

What are the types of fibroids?

There are three different types of fibroids, classified by the location of their growth. 5% of fibroids are submucousal, meaning they grow in the inner cavity of the uterus, and are most likely to cause prolonged, heavy menstrual bleeding. The other 95% of fibroids are either subserosal or intramural. Subserosal fibroids project to the outside of the uterus, and may press on the bladder, causing urinary symptoms, or on spinal nerves, causing backache. Intramural fibroids grow inside the uterine wall, and also cause prolonged or heavy periods, as well as sensations of pain and pressure.

What are the causes of fibroids?

While the exact cause of fibroids is unknown, there are many factors that increase the risk of uterine fibroids, such as obesity, menstruation before the age of 10, African American heritage, and having no biological children.

What fibroid treatments are available?

Fortunately, there is a variety of uterine fibroid treatments available to affected women.
Uterine fibroids affect almost 50% of all women, and are one of the most common causes of hysterectomy in the United States. Every year, approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States, and over one third of these are due to fibroids. If a complete hysterectomy is too drastic, the removal of uterine fibroids is also possible. Other fibroid treatments involve cutting off the blood supply to the fibroids and medication to temporarily shrink the fibroids.

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