Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during your childbearing years. Also called fibromyomas, leiomyomas or myomas, uterine fibroids aren't associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.
As many as 3 out of 4 women have uterine fibroids sometime during their lives, but most are unaware of them because they often cause no symptoms. Your doctor may discover fibroids incidentally during a pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound.
In general, uterine fibroids seldom require treatment. Medical therapy and surgical procedures can shrink or remove fibroids if you have discomfort or troublesome symptoms. Rarely, fibroids can require emergency treatment if they cause sudden, sharp pelvic pain or profuse menstrual bleeding.
There are three types of uterine fibroids.
- Intramural fibroids grow within the muscular uterine wall. These cause rare problems unless quite large
- Submucosal fibroids bulge into the uterine cavity—cause some quite heavy bleeding and fertility problems.
- Subserosal fibroids project to the outside of the uterus, and pedunculated fibroids hang from a stalk inside or outside the uterus. These cause occasional problems with bladder pressure or pelvic pain.
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Tests and diagnosis
- MRI MRI — Overview covers definition, preparation, results of this diagnostic test.
- Ultrasound Ultrasound — Overview covers definition, risks, results of this procedure.
- CT scan CT scan — Overview covers definition, risks, results of this imaging procedure.
- Pelvic exam Pelvic exam — Overview covers definition, what to expect and results of this procedure.
Treatments and drugs
- Hysterectomy Hysterectomy removes the uterus through the vagina to treat gynecologic conditions.
- Dilation and curettage (D&C) Dilation and curettage (D&C) — Overview covers risks, results of this uterine procedure.
- Myomectomy Myomectomy — Overview covers what to expect, risks, results of surgery to remove uterine fibroids.
- Uterine artery embolization Uterine artery embolization — Overview covers what to expect, risks, results of this uterine fibroid treatment. Focused ultrasound surgery for uterine fibroids Focused ultrasound surgery — Overview covers what to expect, risks, results of this uterine fibroid treatment. Mirena (hormonal IUD) Mirena (hormonal IUD) — Overview covers definition, risks, instructions for using this type of contraception.
- Endometrial ablation Endometrial ablation — Overview covers definition, risks, results of this procedure to treat uterine conditions.