Uterine fibroid tumors, also called myomas, fibromyomas and leiomyomas, are most often found in women of childbearing years. These noncancerous tumors occur in as many as three out of four women but the tumors create problems in only one out of four. Uterine fibroid tumors almost never develop into cancer and aren't associated with an increased risk of cancer. Fibroids can be individual tumors, but often occur en masse. Here is some information that will help you to better understand uterine fibroid tumors:
- Indications that you may have fibroid tumors. The following signs may indicate the presence of uterine fibroid tumors:
- Unusually heavy menstrual bleeding
- Unusually long menstrual periods
- Bleeding between periods
- Pain or pressure in the pelvic area or the back or legs
- Abdominal swelling
- Urinary incontinence
- Frequent urination or urine retention
- Pain during sexual intercourse
The location of fibroid tumors. The location of a uterine fibroid tumor will influence your signs and symptoms.
- Fibroids inside of the inner cavity of the uterus (submucosal fibroids) are believed to be responsible for prolonged, heavy menstrual bleeding.
Fibroids that grow outside of the uterus (subserosal fibroids) can put pressure on your bladder or ureters, causing you to experience urinary symptoms.
If a fibroid grows in the direction of your back, it can create pressure on the rectum, which may manifest as constipation or on your spinal nerves, which may manifest as a backache.
Factors associated with the growth of fibroids. The following factors increase the likelihood of developing uterine fibroids:
The size of fibroid tumors. The size of uterine fibroid tumors vary from woman to woman. Some are small enough that they cannot be seen with the naked eye while others can become as big as the entire abdominal area.
- Getting your period before the age of 10
- Never giving birth to a child
- African American ethnicity
The reason for fibroids. Why fibroids occur is still not entirely understood, but it is commonly believed that progesterone and estrogen, the two female sex hormones, promote the growth of fibroids. Fibroids do not develop prior to menstruation and almost never develop or continue to grow after menopause.
Possible complications. If you manifest symptoms of a fibroid, it is best to consult with your doctor for treatment options. Although women can live with fibroid uterine tumors throughout their lives without manifesting any symptoms, possible complications include:
- Occasionally a fibroid can outgrow its blood supply and begin to die. Byproducts from a dying fibroid can seep into surrounding tissue.
- A pedunculated fibroid is a fibroid that hangs by a stalk either inside or outside the uterus and can trigger pain as the fibroid moves around on its stalk.
- If fibroids cause you to bleed excessively, you may experience anemia due to blood loss.
- Fibroids can cause infertility, miscarriages or in the case of pregnancy, premature labor or birth.
If you ever experience sudden sharp pain, you should seek medical help immediately: Occasionally, uterine fibroid tumors can require emergency surgery. Otherwise, uterine fibroid tumor treatment options vary, depending upon your age, the size of the fibroid tumor and your desire to have children.