Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that occur on the inside of your uterus. They may cause symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding, painful periods, bleeding between periods, painful urination, pain during sex, or pregnancy complications. However, not all women with uterine fibroids experience symptoms.
Also known as leiomyomas, or simply myomas, uterine fibroids affect anywhere from 20-80% of women before they turn 50. They occur most commonly in women over age 40.
Your care providers at Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati, Ohio, would like to share some important information with you about the different types of uterine fibroids, along with treatment options if you have fibroids.
Uterine fibroids appear in different ways. You may have one or many. They may be as small as a seed or as large as a grapefruit, or even larger. When fibroids grow very large, they can put pressure on other organs in your pelvis.
Although in rare cases uterine fibroids may be cancerous, they are almost always benign.
Researchers don’t know for sure what causes uterine fibroids. However, they do appear to have a genetic link, so you may be more likely to develop them if other women in your family had them. If your mother had fibroids, for example, your risk of having them is three times higher than the average woman.
Your chances of getting fibroids also increases if you are overweight or obese, if you’re African American, or if you eat a lot of meat.
Here are the four types of uterine fibroids.
These fibroids occur in the wall of your uterus. They may grow quite large.
These fibroids grow on the outside of your uterus. They may press on other organs in your pelvic area.
Unlike other types of fibroids, these grow just beneath the lining of your uterus. They grow into the uterine cavity, which is the central part of the uterus. Submucosal fibroids are most likely to cause painful cramping as well as bleeding between periods.
Imagine a mushroom, with a stalk and a head. Pedunculated fibroids are a bit like mushrooms, growing at the end of small stalks within or on the outside of your uterus. When the stalk of a pedunculated fibroid becomes twisted, it can cause pain that may become intense.
To determine whether you have uterine fibroids, the specialists at Associates in Women’s Health perform tests such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), ultrasound, X-rays, or CT scans.
If your fibroids are causing no symptoms, they may shrink and disappear on their own, which commonly occurs during menopause.
When fibroids do cause symptoms, the symptoms can sometimes be managed using over-the-counter pain relievers, birth control pills, or hormone therapy.
When fibroids require removal, we typically use a thin scope fitted with a light and a camera, as well as surgical tools, to view them and remove them. The scope is inserted via an incision near your navel (a laparoscopic procedure) or via your vagina (hysteroscopy).
Other treatment options include hysterectomy or endometrial ablation (removing the lining of the uterus).
If you think you may have uterine fibroids, the specialists at Associates in Women’s Health can help. Call our office, or use our online booking tool to make an appointment today.