Fibroids and Their Symptoms

Though fibroids are a type of tumor, they are very rarely cancerous. But they can cause painful symptoms.
About Fibroids

Fibroids are benign nodules of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop within the wall of the uterus. They can grow as a single nodule or in groups known as clusters. They range in size from the size of a pea to the size of a cantaloupe. Because they are tumors women are often worried that the fibroids are cancerous or place them at an increased risk of uterine cancer but this is rarely the case.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Unfortunately, the cause of fibroids is basically unknown but scientists believe that genetics and being overweight may contribute. Fibroids mostly occur in women during their reproductive years and African American women are two to three times more likely to have them. Often fibroids can shrink and disappear on their own as a woman enters menopause because estrogen causes fibroids to grow. It's estimated that up to 40 percent of women older than 35 suffer from fibroids during their reproductive years.

What Are the Symptoms?

This is a difficult question because about 90 percent of them don't cause any problems. Any of the following, however, should be considered a warning sign:

  • Very heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Painful intercourse
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Chronic kidney disorders
  • Constipation
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Anemia

Continued on page 2:  Surgery and Other Options