What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids (also referred to as myomas, leiomyomas, leiomyomata, and fibromyomas) are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that grow within the muscle tissue of the uterus. Approximately 3 out of 10 women 35 years and older have fibroids. Fibroids occur at a higher rate among women of African-American descent.

Symptoms are determined by size and location of the fibroids. Fibroids often cause symptoms that can affect a woman's quality of life. Fibroids are hormonally sensitive so symptoms are likely to be cyclical with menstruation.

Fibroid growth is dependent on hormone levels; an increase in a woman's hormone levels may cause the size of fibroids to increase. After menopause has occurred these hormones decrease dramatically, and may cause fibroid symptoms to diminish.

Uterine fibroids vary in size. Some are smaller than a dime while others are larger, reaching in complex cases the size of a cantaloupe. There can be one dominant fibroid or a cluster of many small fibroids, or a combination. Find out if you might have Uterine Fibroids.

Uterine fibroids are also classified according to their location. The following are the primary types of fibroids:

Subserosal: These fibroids develop in the outer portion of the uterus and continue to grow outward.

Intramural: The most common type of fibroid. These develop within the uterine wall and expand making the uterus feel larger than normal (which may cause bulk symptoms).

Submucosal: Fibroids that develop just under the lining of the uterine cavity. These are the fibroids that have the most effect on heavy bleeding and can cause problems with infertility and miscarriage.

Pedunculated: Fibroids that grow on a small stalk that connects them to the inner or outer wall of the uterus.