What is a uterine fibroid?
A uterine fibroid develops when a single cell, from the muscular uterine tissue, repeatedly divides to create a firm mass. Some fibroids grow fast and some grow slowly. A uterine fibroid can stay the same size, grow or shrink and disappear. A woman may have just one or many. Three out of four women may have uterine fibroids during their life however they may also be unaware that they do because uterine fibroids often have no symptoms.
What are the risk factors for uterine fibroids?
- Heredity: the risk is greater if your mother or sisters have had fibroids.
- Race: the risk of uterine fibroids is greater is you are a black woman.
- Other factors include early age for starting menstruation, diet that includes a lot of red meat and alcohol (especially beer) consumption.
Are there different types of uterine fibroids?
- Submucosal fibroids: these uterine fibroids grow into the inner cavity of the uterus and may cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Subserosal fibroids: these uterine fibroids can press again your bladder (causing urinary issues) or your back (causing back pain).
- Intramural fibroids: These uterine fibroids grow with the uterine wall and may cause longer than usual periods with pain and pressure.
How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?
Uterine fibroids are often discovered during routine pelvic exams. Or if you have symptoms of uterine fibroids, your OB/GYN may use lab tests or an ultrasound to confirm the presence of uterine fibroids.
What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
The most common symptoms (though there are often no symptoms) are:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Seven or more days of menstrual bleeding
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination
- Constipation or difficulty urinating
- Back or leg pain
What about pregnancy and uterine fibroids?
While uterine fibroids shouldn’t interfere with conception or pregnancy, they can cause infertility and pregnancy loss. In such cases, your OB/GYN may want to remove these uterine fibroids before you try to conceive.