What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids (also referred to as uterine leiomyomata, uterine leiomyomas, or uterine myomas) are benign tumors that originate in the uterus (womb). Although they are composed of the same smooth muscle fibers as the uterine wall (myometrium), they are many times denser than normal myometrium. Uterine fibroids are usually round or semi-round in shape.
Uterine fibroids are often described based upon their location within the uterus. Subserosal fibroids are located beneath the serosa (the lining membrane on the outside of the organ). These often appear localized on the outside surface of the uterus or may be attached to the outside surface by a pedicle. Submucosal (submucous) fibroids are located inside the uterine cavity beneath the lining of the uterus. Intramural fibroids are located within the muscular wall of the uterus.
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What are symptoms of uterine fibroids?
More common symptoms of uterine fibroids are:
• Abdominal fullness, gas, or constipation
• Bleeding between periods
• Increase in urinary frequency
• Heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), sometimes with the passage of blood clots
• Menstrual periods that may last longer than normal
• Pelvic cramping or pain with periods
• Sensation of fullness or pressure in lower abdomen
• Pain during intercourse
How do I know if I have uterine fibroids?
It's not likely that you do know when you have fibroid tumors of the uterus. Most uterine fibroids do not cause any symptoms and do not require treatment other than regular observation by a physician. Fibroids may be discovered during routine gynecologic examination or during prenatal care.
Some women who have uterine fibroids may experience symptoms such as excessive or painful bleeding during menstruation, bleeding between periods, a feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen, frequent urination resulting from a fibroid that compresses the bladder, pain during sexual intercourse, or low back pain. Although reproductive symptoms such as infertility, recurrent spontaneous abortion, and early onset of labor during pregnancy have been attributed to fibroids to any of these symptoms. In rare cases, a fibroid can compress and block the fallopian tube, preventing fertilization and migration of the ovum or egg; after surgical removal of the fibroid, fertility is generally restored.

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