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FROM UVA RADIOLOGY & MEDICAL IMAGING

Condition: Uterine Fibroids

A header graphic for uterine fibroids

Do you suffer from heavy menstrual periods and abdominal pain? Do your periods seem to last longer than normal? Have you made changes to your life because of your menstrual cycle? If you answered “yes” to any of these, you may have uterine fibroids.


 

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine Fibroids are a type of non-cancerous growth that form in the muscle cells of the uterus. 20-40% of premenopausal women have fibroids, (some doctors estimate this number is higher). Thankfully, only 5-10% of women with fibroids develop symptoms.

Fibroids do not spread to other parts of the body and are not dangerous, but the symptoms they cause are sometimes severe.

Since most women with fibroids don’t experience symptoms at all, it can be easy to overlook the severity of this condition. Women who do experience symptoms often have to make drastic lifestyle changes to deal with them. Having serious or unpredictable menstrual cycles can lead women to have feelings of discomfort, nervousness, isolation, and shame. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this condition is the way fibroid symptoms affect a woman’s peace of mind.

Symptoms

Uterine fibroids can lead to one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Heavy and/or painful menstrual periods
  • Uterine or pelvic pressure
  • Abdominal enlargement
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Anemia
  • Pain in the back of the legs

High Angle View Of Young African Woman With Stomach Ache Lying On Sofa

Risk Factors

There are no known direct causes of fibroids, but there are some factors associated with a higher risk of developing this condition. Below are three categories of risk factors that indicate a woman’s likelihood of developing fibroids at some point in your life.

Health

  • Obesity
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Never having children
  • Being over the age of 40

Race

  • Women of color are most at risk

Genetics

  • Family history

5 Types of Uterine Fibroids

A graphic showing the different types of fibroids that can form in the uterus.

1. Intramural Fibroid (Most common type)

Develops in the uterine wall. Often accompanied by symptoms including excessive menstrual bleeding, prolonged menstrual cycles, pelvic pain and pressure, and frequent urination.

2. Submucosal Fibroid (Least common type)

Develops under the lining of the uterine cavity. Can block the fallopian tubes, causing problems with fertility. Often accompanied by excessive menstrual bleeding or prolonged menstruation, which can both lead to anemia.

3. Pedunculated Submucosal Fibroid

Shares the same characteristics and symptoms as a submucosal fibroid, except it grows on a stalk.

4. Subserosal Fibroid

Develops on the outer uterine wall. Can put pressure on organs as it grows. Can also cause pelvic pain and pressure, but don’t usually affect menstrual bleeding or flow.

5. Pedunculated Subserosal Fibroid

Develops on a stalk on the outer uterine wall. Can cause the same symptoms as regular subserosal fibroids.

Typical Treatment Options

Today, there are many different treatment options for fibroids. These options include focused ultrasound, myomectomy, and hysterectomy. Some of these procedures, especially myomectomy and hysterectomy, are invasive operations that require a long recovery process.

There is another option, however, that is more precise and far less invasive than the above procedures: Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).

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