Uterine fibroids (also called uterine leiomyomas) are non-cancerous tumors that develop from the myometrium layer of the uterus (the myometrium layer of the uterus is the soft, smooth muscular layer of the uterus.) They stay within the uterine muscle but can appear toward the inside, outside, or in the middle. If your doctor tells you that you have fibroids, the first thing is not to panic– they are incredibly common; in fact, most women have probably had a fibroid in their life at some point or another that went away on its own. It is estimated that around 25% of women experience symptoms whereas up to 80% are completely symptom-free. Fortunately, these tumors are almost never cancerous; only 0.1% will become malignant.*
Fibroids most commonly cause pelvic pain, pelvic pressure, and heavy or lengthy menstrual bleeding but can also cause painful periods, spotting, pain with intercourse, and lower back pain. Unlike other conditions like Endometriosis, these growths can be seen through vaginal ultrasound– they show up as dense black spots on the monitor that we can watch over time for changes and growth.
If you have fibroids (with or without symptoms) it is important to have regular appointments to watch for any that are fast growing. If you have no symptoms, my recommendation will usually be to watch them and wait for them to go away on their own. However, if you are symptomatic there are different things we can do to treat them; some procedures are invasive and require surgery or permanent changes to your uterus, others are medicinal and may provide some relief. During an office visit we can talk about how severe your symptoms are, the size and location of your fibroids, and what treatments are best suited for you.
*Statistic from Center for Uterine Fibroids, www.fibroids.net