What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign growths of the uterus made of smooth muscle and connective tissue that often appear in women of reproductive age. These fibrous tumors may range in size from too small to be seen by the human eye to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus.
As many as 20–80% of women develop fibroids by age 50, but many women with uterine fibroids don’t experience any symptoms. Asymptomatic patients don’t require treatment, and it’s very rare for uterine fibroids to become malignant.
Learn more below about the signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids and treatments we offer to help get you back to normal life.
Causes of Uterine Fibroids
The cause of uterine fibroids is not known today. Through research and clinical studies, some experts believe hormones, changes in genetics or other growth factors.
Risk of Uterine Fibroids
Risk factors for uterine fibroids may include:
- Race (Black women are more likely to have fibroids than women of other racial groups)
- Obesity or higher body weight
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Family history of fibroids
- Not having children
- Early onset menstruation
Late onset menopause
Signs & Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
Many women with uterine fibroids don’t experience any symptoms. In those who do, the symptoms can vary based on the number, size, and location of fibroids.
Common signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids may include:
Heavy or painful periods
Bleeding between periods
Chronic vaginal discharge
Pelvic pressure or pain
Bloating or a feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen
Inability to urinate or completely empty the bladder
Constipation or rectal pain
Pain during sex
Lower back pain
Enlarged or distended abdomen
Reproductive problems, including infertility, multiple miscarriages, or early labor
Diagnosing Uterine Fibroids
To diagnose uterine fibroids, your physician may ask you about your symptoms and family history and perform a routine pelvic exam. They may also use a transvaginal ultrasound or MRI to confirm the presence of uterine fibroids.
Treatment of Uterine Fibroids
Fortunately, only a small percentage of women with fibroids need treatment, and it’s very rare for uterine fibroids to become cancerous. If you don’t have any symptoms, you may not need treatment at all.
We use a procedure called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) to treat uterine fibroids. This is a minimally invasive, same-day procedure allowing early return to normal activity. Small particles are injected via catheter into the blood vessels surrounding the fibroids, reducing blood flow to the fibroids to shrink their size and improve symptoms.
Prevention of Uterine Fibroids
Since the cause(s) of uterine fibroids are not known, there’s little scientific evidence about how to prevent them.
A healthy lifestyle may help reduce the risk of fibroids, including maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet with less red meat, lower alcohol consumption, and lots of fruits and vegetables.
Contact Your Doctor If...
you experience pain during sex, have heavy and painful periods, chronic vaginal discharge, lower back pain or reproductive problems, including infertility, multiple miscarriages, or early labor. Our team is here to help make sense of what you are experiencing and get you the help you need.
Dr. Neal Khurana
Dr. Neal Khurana specializes in treatment and care for uterine fibroids. He is a board-certified and fellowship-trained interventional radiologist experienced in a variety of conditions.About Dr. Khurana
VIS is here to help. If you are at risk for uterine fibroids or have experienced one or more of the signs & symptoms, please reach out to schedule a screening. We'll walk this journey with you.Contact Us