Uterine Fibroids: Five Things You Need to Know

· August 29, 2016
The treatment for uterine fibroids varies according to their size. Surgical intervention could be necessary or just proper medication and periodic checkups.

According to the Spanish Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (SEGO), nearly 70% of women could develop uterine fibroids at some point in their lives.

First of all, you need to know that only 0.5% of these fibroids could become carcinogenic. 

But the discomfort and problems that could arise should be considered. They’re definitely something that should remind us not to forget our periodic gynecological checkups.

Read more here: What Are Uterine Fibroids? Find Out With These 5 Important Facts

Uterine fibroids are also known as leiomyomas or fibromyomas and are the most common type of tumor in women.

That’s why we decided to share some information about their symptoms, origins, and possible consequences.

1. What are uterine fibroids? What causes them?

A lot of women complain about the same things: they lead a healthy life, they take care of their sexual health, they get regular gynecological checkups, and yet, without knowing why, they’re diagnosed with uterine fibroids.

Uterine fibroids.

So why does this happen? The truth is we currently still don’t know what exactly causes them. It’s suspected that genetics plays a part in their development, but we don’t know exactly how they appear and develop.

The uterus has several layers. One of them is the myometrium.

  • Female hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, stimulate the growth of small, tiny lumps in the myometrium that could slowly transform into fibroids.
  • These uterine fibroids could divide into subserosals when they’re located on the surface of the uterus, or intramural fibroids when they’re inserted within the uterine wall. Lastly, they could be submucosal fibroids when they’re located within the uterus.

Subserosal fibroids barely present any symptoms. But intramural and submucosal fibroids affect the endometrium and could even cause bleeding, pain and, in the most extreme cases, infertility.

Improper blood flow to the uterus could cause uterine fibroids, which could thereby also produce intense pain and miscarriages.

2. Who is at the greatest risk of suffering from uterine fibroids?

Doctors state that they generally appear between the ages of 35 and 55 and are most common between the ages of 45 and 55.

  • This type of benign tumor appears most commonly during the fertile period.
  • If your mother has had them, it’s very likely that you’ll develop uterine fibroids as well.
  • Your risk of suffering from them is greater if you’re overweight and have never given birth.

3. Symptoms of uterine fibroids

You must keep in mind that nearly 30% of women don’t experience symptoms. Uterine fibroids can be detected during periodic gynecological checkups.

A woman with pelvic pain.

Here are the symptoms that most women generally experience:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Bleeding outside of menstruation.
  • Much longer menstrual periods.
  • Iron deficiency anemia.
  • Swelling and fatigue.
  • Weight gain.
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Need to urinate more frequently.

4. What treatments exist for uterine fibroids?

The first thing you may think of when you’re diagnosed with one or more uterine fibroids is that you may need surgical intervention.

  • This isn’t always the case. Smaller uterine fibroids can be treated with specific medications and periodic checkups.
  • If the fibroid is very large, or a small one doesn’t respond to medication, you’ll have no other option but to have it removed.
  • You could undergo a myomectomy (fibroid extraction that doesn’t affect the uterus) or a hysterectomy, which is the partial or complete removal of the uterus.
  • A lot of specialists advise undergoing medical treatment with ulipristal acetate, a progesterone moderator that noticeably reduces the size of uterine fibroids.

5. Uterine fibroids and fertility

One of the most common doubts that women generally have when they’re diagnosed with a fibroid is whether or not they can get pregnant.

That all depends on your age. Due to the fact that this is a very common benign tumor in women during their fertile age, this is definitely one of the most common fears.

Experts have suggested the following:

  • When tumors are large, they could cause fertility problems or pregnancy complications.
  • Women that undergo myomectomies can still get pregnant.
  • Fibroids could cause miscarriages, which is why it’s a good idea to plan your pregnancy and consult a gynecologist to know if pregnancy is possible and if you’re risk-free.
A pregnant woman sitting on grass.

When they’re bigger than 4 cm, they can cause gestation issues. The mother could experience premature birth, pelvic pain, and even placenta detachment.

Discover: 8 Symptoms Women Shouldn’t Ignore

Take care of your health and never miss your periodic checkups with your healthcare professional. They’ll always provide you with advice regarding these important topics.

  • Hurst, B. S. (2014). Uterine fibroids. In Ultrasound Imaging in Reproductive Medicine: Advances in Infertility Work-Up, Treatment, and Art. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-9182-8_10
  • Okolo, S. (2008). Incidence, aetiology and epidemiology of uterine fibroids. Best Practice and Research: Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2008.04.002
  • McWilliams, M. M., & Chennathukuzhi, V. M. (2017). Recent Advances in Uterine Fibroid Etiology. Seminars in Reproductive Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0037-1599090