The basics about uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are benign, or noncancerous, growths that develop and grow in the myometrium, which is the smooth muscle tissue of a woman’s uterus. They are also known as myomas or leiomyomas. Symptoms of fibroids can be bothersome, but effective treatment is available.
As they grow, fibroids form firm masses of varying sizes, which can grow inside or outside the uterus, as well as within the uterine wall. A woman may have one growth or several, and they may remain the same size for a long period of time or suddenly grow larger.
Many women will have fibroids at some time, but they may not experience any symptoms of fibroids, so they may not even know that they have the condition.
Who is most at risk for developing uterine fibroids?
Although we don’t know exactly what causes fibroids, we do know that certain factors may increase your risk.
- Being in your reproductive years, especially if you’re in your thirties and forties
- Having a mother or sister with the condition
- Being of African-American heritage
- Being overweight or obese
- Eating a diet that includes a lot of red meat, but not enough fruits and vegetables
What are the symptoms of fibroids?
While many women won’t even notice that they have uterine fibroids, others will experience moderate to severe fibroid symptoms. These include:
- Heavy bleeding during menstruation
- Cramps and/or pain during your period
- Problems with menstruation, including longer, more frequent periods
- Bleeding or spotting at times other than during menstruation
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- An enlarged lower abdominal area
- Pain that occurs during sex
- Abdominal or lower back pain
Fibroids are also known to cause infertility problems and miscarriages. Our Austin OBGYNs advise women to come in for a preconception consultation to discuss fibroid symptoms, and how fibroids may affect family planning and pregnancy.
How is the condition diagnosed?
If you are experiencing the symptoms of fibroids, you should make an appointment to see one of our Austin OBGYNs. The first step in diagnosing fibroids is a pelvic examination, during which the doctor can sometimes see or feel them. Your doctor may also order an ultrasound or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test to help confirm the diagnosis.
Our Austin OBGYNs have many years of experience in both diagnosing and treating uterine fibroids, treating patients with the most up-to-date treatments and expertise. If you are experiencing fibroid symptoms, contact us for an appointment.