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Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids, also called uterine leiomyomas, uterine fibromyomas, or uterine fibroleiomyomas, are non-cancerous (benign) growths made of smooth muscle cells and other tissue that develop within the wall of the uterus. Some women may have no symptoms.  However, hundreds of thousands of women seek treatment for painful fibroids each year.

Uterine fibroids are the most common non-cancerous tumors in women of childbearing age and can cause painful symptoms and abnormal bleeding from the uterus. Fibroids that are located in certain parts of the uterus, such as the uterine cavity, can also make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant or maintain a pregnancy. 

Fibroids may grow as a single tumor or in clusters. A single fibroid can be microscopic in size or can grow to eight inches or more across. In many cases, a single uterus can contain many fibroids. Most fibroids range from about the size of a large marble to slightly smaller than a baseball. Unless you have symptoms, you probably won’t know that you have uterine fibroids.

Treatments for fibroids vary depending on age and severity. The most common are medication, surgery, or radiological procedures. Emotional support may be just as important as medical treatment for dealing with the chronic symptoms and potential reproductive problems associated with fibroids.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Heavy bleeding or painful periods
  • Anemia
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Feeling “full” in the lower abdomen (belly)—this is sometimes called “pelvic pressure”
  • Frequent urination (caused by a fibroid pressing on the bladder)
  • Pain during sex
  • Lower back pain
  • Reproductive problems, such as infertility, multiple miscarriages, and early onset of labor during pregnancy
  • Obstetrical problems, such as increased likelihood of cesarean section

Many women have no symptoms of fibroids.

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