Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids are lumps (growths) of muscle tissue. They can form in the wall of uterus (womb). Fibroids are very common. They are almost always not cancer (benign). It's not known what causes fibroids. But they may run in families. Also, changes in female hormones may cause them to grow over time. After menopause, fibroids may stop growing or shrink,

Front view cross section of uterus showing fibroids.

Fibroids may or may not cause symptoms. This depends on many factors, such as the size, number, and where the fibroids are. If symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Heavy bleeding. In severe cases, this may lead to low red blood count (anemia).

  • Painful periods

  • Feeling of fullness, swelling, pressure, or pain in the lower belly (abdomen) or pelvic region

  • Lower back pain

  • Frequent urination

  • Constipation

  • Pain during sex

  • Problems getting pregnant or problems during pregnancy

If fibroids are suspected, your healthcare provider will do an assessment to help understand the extent of the problem. This can include a health history, exam, and tests. Based on the results, treatment can then be planned if needed.

Until more details are known about your problem, you may be given guidelines similar to the home care instructions below.    

Home care

  • To help control pain, over-the-counter pain medicine may be advised. Take these only as directed by your provider.

  • If you have heavy or painful periods, keep a log of your menstrual cycle. Show the log to your provider. The information may help them determine if your symptoms are from fibroids or another cause.

  • Make certain lifestyle changes. This may include losing excess weight, being more active, or eating less red meat. These changes may help lower the risk of fibroids in some people. They may also help improve overall health.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. If testing was done, you’ll be told the results when they are ready. Treatment options for fibroids may include medicines or procedures to help shrink or keep fibroids from growing. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to remove fibroids or to remove the uterus. If you have fibroids but no symptoms, you may not need treatment at all. But your provider may advise regular follow-up to check fibroid size and growth.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Heavy bleeding or painful periods that continue or don’t get better with treatment

  • Signs of anemia such as extreme fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath with little exertion, or rapid heartbeat

  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

  • Severe pain in the pelvic or belly region

  • Swollen or enlarged belly

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