Fibroids are benign (noncancerous) growths in the wall of the uterus (womb). The uterus is the organ where a fetus grows during pregnancy.
Fibroids are common. They may be very small or they could grow to 8 or more inches in diameter. Most fibroids remain inside the uterus. Sometimes, they may stick out and affect nearby organs. It is common for there to be more than 1 fibroid.
The cause of fibroids is unknown.
Fibroid growth is stimulated by female reproductive hormones. As a result:
Genetics may make some women more prone to fibroids. Substances that control blood vessel growth may also affect fibroid growth.
African American women are at increased risk. Other factors that affect your risk of fibroids include:
There may be no symptoms, or they may be mild or severe. This depends on the size and location of the growths.
Symptoms may include:
If menstrual bleeding is heavy, you may be develop iron-deficiency anemia. Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia include fatigue and exercise intolerance. If you experience these symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Most fibroids are found during routine pelvic exams.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Most women with fibroids do not have symptoms and do not need treatment. Your doctor may recommend monitoring any changes on a regular basis. Treatment may be done later if needed.
The doctor may advise:
Hormone medications may be an option for those who are not trying to become pregnant. These medications can shrink fibroids, reduce abnormal bleeding, and lessen pain. However, fibroids can return after these medications are stopped. These medications may be used to make fibroids smaller just before surgery.
Surgery may be considered if:
Surgical procedures include:
Other options include:
There are no current guidelines to prevent uterine fibroids.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Fibroids. Healthy Women website. Available at: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/fibroids. Accessed December 11, 2017.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=ufe. Updated June 24, 2016. Accessed December 11, 2017.
Uterine leiomyoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115612/Uterine-leiomyoma. Updated April 15, 2016. Accessed December 11, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG Last Updated: 12/20/2014