Considering that nearly 20 percent of women may experience uterine fibroids during their childbearing years and half of women have fibroids by the time they turn fifty, these noncancerous tumors that develop in the uterus, or womb, are fairly common. Although the exact cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, their growth has been linked to estrogen, which is why the fibroids tend to grow as long as a woman is menstruating.
Types of Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids can be microscopic—so small that a microscope is necessary for the human eye to see them—or very large. Fibroids typically grow in clusters or sets, but having just one uterine fibroid is also possible. The different types of uterine fibroids are named for their location in the uterus. These types include:
- Myometrial, or in the muscle wall of the uterus
- Submucosal, or under the surface of the uterine lining
- Subserosal, or under the outside covering of the uterus
- Pendunculated, or inside the uterus cavity or on a “stalk” outside of the uterus
Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
Although every case is unique, common symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
- Bleeding in between periods or incredibly heavy periods, sometimes with blood clots in the menstrual blood
- Periods that last longer than usual
- The need to urinate frequently
- Pelvic cramping or pain during your period
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Be sure to inform your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Detection and Treatment
You will probably undergo a routine pelvic exam if uterine fibroids are suspected, but diagnostic tests like an ultrasound or MRI may also be necessary. Even though uterine fibroids are noncancerous, your doctor may prescribe a biopsy just to rule out the possibility of cancer.
Treatments for uterine fibroids vary. If the fibroids are not very large, women may be placed on birth control pills or given IUDs (intrauterine devices) as the hormones can help control heavy menstrual bleeding and reduce pain. Iron supplements may be suggested to help treat anemia due to blood loss. In other cases, surgery may be required to remove the fibroids. Outpatient surgery is often sufficient, but in more serious cases a hysterectomy is necessary to remove the woman’s entire uterus.
The Women’s Center at Denton Regional Medical Center offers a full range of obstetrical and gynecological services including minimally invasive robotic gynecologic surgery. For more information about Denton Regional or the comprehensive services we offer, visit us online, contact us here or call 1-855-477-DRMC for a physician referral.