Understanding Uterine Fibroids: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments


Let’s dive into a topic that, while often brushed under the rug, impacts many women: uterine fibroids. These non-cancerous growths in the uterus can range from being completely harmless to causing severe discomfort. Understanding them is the first step towards treating them effectively. This article explains the main causes of fibroids and how to treat them. 

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors developing in the muscle tissue of the uterus. Also known as leiomyomas or myomas, they vary in size and number, sometimes growing to the size of a melon or appearing in clusters. 

Types of Uterine Fibroids

There are several types of fibroids, categorized based on their location:

– Intramural Fibroids: these are the most common type and are found within the uterus wall.

– Subserosal Fibroids: they grow on the outer surface of the uterus and can sometimes become quite large.

– Submucosal Fibroids: located just beneath the lining of the uterine cavity, these can affect menstrual bleeding.

– Pedunculated Fibroids: these grow on stalks either inside or outside the uterus. 

Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids

Many women with fibroids don’t experience any symptoms. However, in other cases they do appear, including the following:

– Prolonged periods

– Heavy menstrual bleeding

– Pelvic pain and pressure

– Frequent urination

– Difficulty emptying the bladder

If you notice some of these symptoms, you can visit an interventional radiologist for a professional opinion. 

Severe Symptoms

In some cases, symptoms can be worse, such as:

– Severe pelvic pain

– Heavy bleeding leading to anemia

– Pain during intercourse

Backache or leg pain 

Causes of Uterine Fibroids

Different factors can increase the possibility of developing uterine fibroids. Let’s get to know the details of these conditions.

Hormonal and Genetic Factors

Progesterone and estrogen promote the growth of the uterine lining during each menstrual cycle and seem to stimulate the development of fibroids. Fibroids contain more hormonal receptors than normal uterine muscle cells.

Genetic changes may also play a role. Some fibroids contain genetic alterations that differ from those in normal uterine muscle cells. 

Other Risk Factors

Although genetic and hormonal factors are the main causes of uterine fibroids development, some other factors increase the risks. Additional risk factors include:

– Age (most common in women in their 30s and 40s)

– Family history of fibroids

– Ethnic origin (African-American women are more prone to develop fibroids)


Diagnosing Uterine Fibroids

Finding out if you have uterine fibroids starts with a visit to your gynecologist. They’ll begin by chatting with you about your medical history and any symptoms you may be experiencing. This helps them understand what’s been going on and what to look for during the physical exam. 

Getting a Closer Look

During the physical exam, your gynecologist will gently feel your abdomen to check for any abnormalities, like an enlarged uterus. Sometimes, they may even feel the fibroids directly. This step helps them get a general sense of what’s happening inside your body. 

Peeking Inside

To get a clearer picture, your doctor might order some imaging tests. These could include ultrasound or MRI scans. These tests provide detailed images of your uterus, helping your doctor see if there are any fibroids and where they’re located. 

Exploring Further

Sometimes, your doctor might suggest additional procedures for a closer look. This could involve hysterosonography, where saline is injected into your uterus before an ultrasound to get a better view. Or they might recommend hysteroscopy or laparoscopy, where a tiny camera is inserted into your uterus through a small incision to directly visualize any fibroids or other abnormalities. 

Piecing It All Together

By combining information from your medical history, physical exam, and imaging or diagnostic procedures, your doctor will diagnose and create a personal treatment plan. This process helps ensure you get the care and support you need to manage uterine fibroids effectively. 

Treatment Options for Uterine Fibroids

Different treatment options are available for uterine fibroids. Some require just a visit to the doctor’s office, and others may include surgical procedures. It all depends on every specific situation. Let’s get to know some of the options. 


Medications can help regulate your menstrual cycle, treat symptoms, and shrink fibroids. Common options include:

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists

– Progestin-releasing intrauterine device (IUD)

– Anti-inflammatory pain relievers

Non-Invasive Procedures

– MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound Surgery (FUS): this non-invasive treatment uses high-frequency, high-energy sound waves to target and destroy fibroid tissue.

– Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE): this involves injecting small particles into the arteries, cutting off blood flow to fibroids, and causing them to shrink.

Surgical Options

When other treatments aren’t effective, surgery might be necessary. Options include:

– Myomectomy: this involves the surgical removal of fibroids while preserving the uterus. It is often recommended for individuals who wish to have children.

–  Hysterectomy: this is the removal of the uterus and is the only permanent solution for fibroids. It is typically considered when other treatments fail and if the patient has no desire for future pregnancies.

– Endometrial Ablation: this destroys the lining of the uterus to reduce menstrual bleeding. It’s only recommended for women who do not wish to conceive in the future.


Understanding uterine fibroids is crucial for managing and treating this common condition. You can take control of your health and well-being by recognizing the symptoms, understanding the causes, and exploring the various treatment options. Remember, while fibroids can be a nuisance, they are manageable with the right approach and support. Always consult with your doctor to determine the best course of action for your situation.


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