Uterine Fibroids

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    Uterine Fibroids

    Uterine Fibroids

    Uterine fibroids, also called leiomyomas, are noncancerous (benign) tumors that can grow in the uterus. They can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and pain. Fibroids may also grow in the fallopian tubes, cervix, or tissues (ligaments) near the uterus.

    You may have one or many fibroids. Fibroids vary in size, weight, and where they grow in the uterus. Some can become quite large. Most fibroids do not require medical treatment.

    What are the causes?

    The cause of this condition is not known.

    What increases the risk?

    You are more likely to develop this condition if you:
    • Are in your 30s or 40s and have not gone through menopause.
    • Have a family history of this condition.
    • Are of African American descent.
    • Started your menstrual period at age 10 or younger.
    • Have never given birth.
    • Are overweight or obese.

    What are the signs or symptoms?

    Many women do not have any symptoms. Symptoms of this condition may include:
    • Heavy menstrual bleeding.
    • Bleeding between menstrual periods.
    • Pain and pressure in the pelvic area, between your hip bones.
    • Pain during sex.
    • Bladder problems, such as needing to urinate right away or more often than usual.
    • Inability to have children (infertility).
    • Failure to carry pregnancy to term (miscarriage).

    How is this diagnosed?

    This condition may be diagnosed based on:
    • Your symptoms and medical history.
    • A physical exam.
    • A pelvic exam that includes feeling for any tumors.
    • Imaging tests, such as ultrasound or MRI.

    How is this treated?

    Treatment for this condition may include follow-up visits with your health care provider to monitor your fibroids for any changes. Other treatment may include:
    • Medicines, such as:
      • Medicines to relieve pain, including aspirin and NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
      • Hormone therapy. Treatment may be given as a pill or an injection, or it may be inserted into the uterus using an intrauterine device (IUD).
    • Surgery that would do one of the following:
      • Remove the fibroids (myomectomy). This may be recommended if fibroids affect your fertility and you want to become pregnant.
      • Remove the uterus (hysterectomy).
      • Block the blood supply to the fibroids (uterine artery embolization). This can cause them to shrink and die.

    Follow these instructions at home:


    • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
    • Ask your health care provider if you should take iron pills or eat more iron-rich foods, such as dark green, leafy vegetables. Heavy menstrual bleeding can cause low iron levels.

    Managing pain

    If directed, apply heat to your back or abdomen to reduce pain. Use the heat source that your health care provider recommends, such as a moist heat pack or a heating pad. To apply heat:
    • Place a towel between your skin and the heat source.
    • Leave the heat on for 20–30 minutes.
    • Remove the heat if your skin turns bright red. This is especially important if you are unable to feel pain, heat, or cold. You may have a greater risk of getting burned.

    General instructions

    • Pay close attention to your menstrual cycle. Tell your health care provider about any changes, such as:
      • Heavier bleeding that requires you to change your pads or tampons more than usual.
      • A change in the number of days that your menstrual period lasts.
      • A change in symptoms that come with your menstrual period, such as back pain or cramps in your abdomen.
    • Keep all follow-up visits. This is important, especially if your fibroids need to be monitored for any changes.

    Contact a health care provider if you:

    • Have pelvic pain, back pain, or cramps in your abdomen that do not get better with medicine or heat.
    • Develop new bleeding between menstrual periods.
    • Have increased bleeding during or between menstrual periods.
    • Feel more tired or weak than usual.
    • Feel light-headed.

    Get help right away if you:

    • Faint.
    • Have pelvic pain that suddenly gets worse.
    • Have severe vaginal bleeding that soaks a tampon or pad in 30 minutes or less.


    • Uterine fibroids are noncancerous (benign) tumors that can develop in the uterus.
    • The exact cause of this condition is not known.
    • Most fibroids do not require medical treatment unless they affect your ability to have children (fertility).
    • Contact a health care provider if you have pelvic pain, back pain, or cramps in your abdomen that do not get better with medicines.
    • Get help right away if you faint, have pelvic pain that suddenly gets worse, or have severe vaginal bleeding.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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