Debra Wood, RN
Fibroids are benign (noncancerous) growths in the wall of the uterus. The uterus is the organ where a fetus grows during pregnancy.
Fibroids are common. They may be very small or they could grow to eight or more inches in diameter. Most fibroids remain inside the uterus. Sometimes, they may stick out and affect nearby organs. It is common for there to be more than one fibroid.
The cause of fibroids is unknown.
Fibroid growth is stimulated by female reproductive hormones. As a result:
Genetics may make some women more prone to fibroids. Substances that control blood vessel growth may also affect fibroid growth.
African American women are at increased risk. Other factors that affect your risk of fibroids include:
Obesity and high blood pressure may also be linked to fibroids.
Symptoms range from none at all to mild or severe. This depends on the size and location of the growths.
Symptoms may include:
may develop if bleeding is heavy.
This is low levels of red blood cells. It will affect the amount of oxygen your blood can carry.
Most fibroids are found during routine pelvic exams.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Most women with fibroids have no symptoms and do not need treatment. Your doctor may recommend monitoring any changes on a regular basis. Treatment may be done later if needed.
Your doctor may recommend:
Hormone medications may be an option if you are not trying to become pregnant. These drugs can shrink fibroids, reduce abnormal bleeding, and lessen pain. However, fibroids can return after you stop taking the drugs. These drugs may be used to make fibroids smaller just before surgery.
Surgery may be considered if:
Surgical procedures include:
Other options include:
If you are diagnosed with uterine fibroids, follow your doctor's
There are no guidelines for preventing fibroids.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Fibroids. Healthy Women website. Available at:
http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/fibroids. Updated August 9, 2011. Accessed January 7, 2014.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). RadiologyInfo.org website. Available at:
http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=ufe. Updated August 5, 2013. Accessed January 7, 2014.
Uterine fibroids. Focused Ultrasound Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.fusfoundation.org/Uterine-Fibroids/uterine-fibroids. Accessed January 7, 2014.
Uterine leiomyoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated November 7, 2013. Accessed January 7, 2014.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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