What are fibroids?
Uterine fibroids, also referred to as leiomyomas or myomas, are noncancerous growths in or on a woman’s uterus. Fibroids can vary in shape, size and location. About 70-80% of women develop fibroids by age 50, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
There are four common types of fibroids, which are generally classified by their location within the uterus.
- Intramural fibroids: Grow within the muscular uterine wall.
- Submucosal fibroids: Bulge into the uterine cavity.
- Subserosal fibroids: Project to the outside of the uterus.
- Pedunculated fibroids: Attached to the uterine wall by a peduncle (stalk-like growth).
What Causes Fibroids
While the exact cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, we do know that female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) play a key role in the growth of fibroids. Uterine fibroids begin developing during a woman’s reproductive years and then the fibroids may shrink when she is going through or has gone through menopause, when hormone levels begin to drop. Many women with fibroids have a family history of fibroids in their relative, suggesting a genetic link to fibroids. Fibroids are also more common in certain ethic groups, such as African American women
Who is At Risk for Fibroids?
Women that have one or more of the following risk factors have an increased chance of uterine fibroids:
- Family history of fibroids
- High blood pressure
Uterine Fibroid Symptoms
Many women with fibroids may not experience any symptoms and they might not even be aware that they have fibroids. For women that do experience symptoms, some common symptoms include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding/periods
- Lower back pain
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Swelling or fullness in the abdomen
- Frequent urination
- Pain during intercourse
Fibroids and Infertility
Most women who have fibroids will not face infertility as a result. However, uterine fibroids can impact fertility in a variety of ways, including:
- They can impact the size or shape of the lining of the uterine cavity and create issues with implantation.
- Cause the fallopian tubes to be blocked.
- Certain types of fibroids may increase the risk of pregnancy complications or miscarriage.
Treatment for Fibroids
Smaller fibroids that don’t cause any symptoms typically don’t require treatment. Depending on the size and location of the fibroid and the patient’s desire to retain her future fertility, will help determine what type of treatment to use.
Hormone therapy and surgery are two common treatment options. In some instances, large fibroids may require the removal of the entire uterus (hysterectomy).
Your CCRM fertility specialist can evaluate whether fibroids is affecting your fertility and whether treatment is needed.