Uterine fibroids are surprisingly common. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, by age 50, between 70 percent and 80 percent of all women have at least one fibroid, but usually, they cause no discernible symptoms and require no treatment. In other cases though, uterine fibroids can cause significant symptoms, especially when they’re very large and when they form in women of childbearing age. Here’s what you should know about uterine fibroids — and five symptoms you should be aware of so you can get the treatment you need as early as possible.
Fibroids are abnormal growths of tissue that form inside your uterus. Fibroids are often described as tumors, and although that may sound scary, most fibroids are benign or non-cancerous. Fibroids can range in size from very small — smaller than a single pea — to as large as a cantaloupe. Obviously, the larger the fibroid, the more likely it will cause noticeable symptoms.
Any woman can develop uterine fibroids, but there are some factors that make the growths more likely, including:
Women who’ve never been pregnant are also at a higher risk of developing fibroids, as are African American women.
Fibroid growth rates can fluctuate widely. Most experts agree the growth is dependent on the “female” hormones estrogen and progesterone. Fibroids tend to grow much more rapidly during a woman’s childbearing years, with growth slowing down or stopping once a woman reaches menopause. For some women, fibroids may actually shrink once they’re in menopause. The hormones released during pregnancy can also cause fibroids to grow more rapidly. When fibroids grow during pregnancy, they may cause complications, including premature birth.
Small fibroids often cause no symptoms, and you may not even realize they're there until they're "discovered" during a regular pelvic exam. When a fibroid is large or when you have multiple fibroids, you're more likely to experience symptoms, and you may require treatment to shrink or remove the fibroids. Here are five symptoms you may experience with uterine fibroids:
Less commonly, fibroids may interfere with your ability to get pregnant. As noted earlier, fibroids can increase your risk for complications during pregnancy, and they can significantly increase the likelihood you'll need to have a Cesarean section.
Women who have fibroids typically don't experience all these symptoms, and sometimes symptoms can be very mild. Because the symptoms associated with uterine fibroids can also occur with other serious conditions including uterine cancer, if you have any symptoms it's important to schedule an office visit with Dr. Weyhrich so you can be evaluated right away.
Uterine fibroids aren't uncommon, and they don't always need to be treated. The first step in determining if you need treatment is to schedule an office visit. As a top ob-gyn in Boise, Idaho, Dr. Darin L. Weyhrich offers women the most advanced fibroid treatment options based on their needs so his patients can enjoy optimal health at every age. To find out more about fibroid treatments and to schedule an appointment with Dr. Weyhrich, contact the practice today.