Uterine fibroids

Definition

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

Alternative Names

Leiomyoma; Fibromyoma; Myoma; Fibroids; Uterine bleeding - fibroids; Vaginal bleeding - fibroids

Causes

Uterine fibroids are common. As many as one in five 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 White people.

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, most often there is 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 provider will perform a pelvic exam. This may show that you have a change in the shape of your womb.

Fibroids are not always easy to diagnose. Being obese may make fibroids harder to detect. You may need these tests to look for fibroids:

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 may cause complications:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have:

References

Dolan MS, Hill C, Valea FA. Benign gynecologic lesions: Vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, oviduct, ovary. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 18.

Ferri FF. Uterine fibroids. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2017. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2017:1322-1323.

Gupta JK, Sinha A, Lumsden MA, Hickey M. Uterine artery embolization for symptomatic uterine fibroids. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(12):CD005073. PMID: 25541260 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25541260.

Moravk MB, Bulun SE. Uterine fibroids. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Krester DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 131.

Panagiotopoulou N, Nethra S, Karavolos S, Ahmad G, Karabis A, Burls A. Uterine-sparing minimally invasive interventions in women with uterine fibroids: a systematic review and indirect treatment comparison meta-analysis. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2014;93(9):858-867. PMID: 24909191 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24909191.

Rodriguez MI, Warden M, Darney PD. Intrauterine progestins, progesterone antagonists, and receptor modulators: a review of gynecologic applications. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010;202(5):420-428. PMID: 20031112 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20031112.


Review Date: 9/26/2015
Reviewed By: Daniel N. Sacks MD, FACOG, obstetrics & gynecology in private practice, West Palm Beach, FL. Review Provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Internal review and update on 09/01/2016 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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