Uterine fibroids begin in cells in the smooth muscle tissue of the uterus. When these cells reproduce, they form growths that may develop in almost any area of the uterus. Many times, these growths don't cause noticeable symptoms. However, sometimes they may cause heavier or prolonged menstrual bleeding, especially if they form under the lining of the uterine wall. Excessive bleeding may lead to anemia, or a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells. Uterine fibroids may also press down on your bladder or rectum, causing frequent urination or difficulty emptying your bladder, or constipation.
A Answers (4)
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answered
Rafael Perez, MD, OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology), answered on behalf of Baptist Health South FloridaUterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus and can affect the body by causing prolonged menstrual bleeding that can eventually lead to anemia, irregular menstrual bleeding, painful menstrual cramping, pelvic pain, pelvic pressure, frequent urination, constipation, painful intercourse and even infertility.
Uterine fibroids can grow on the inside wall of the uterus, within the muscle wall of the uterus, or on the outer wall of the uterus. They can alter the shape of the uterus as they grow. Over time, the size, shape, location and symptoms of fibroids can change.
As women age, they are more likely to have uterine fibroids, especially from their 30s and 40s through menopause (around age 50). Uterine fibroids can stay the same for years with few or no symptoms, or you can have a sudden, rapid growth of fibroids.
Fibroids do not grow before the start of menstrual periods (puberty). They sometimes grow larger during the first trimester of pregnancy, and they usually shrink for the rest of a pregnancy. After menopause, when a woman's hormone levels drop, fibroids usually shrink and don't come back.
Complications of uterine fibroids aren't common. They include:
- Anemia from heavy bleeding.
- Blockage of the urinary tract or bowels, if a fibroid presses on them.
- Infertility, especially if the fibroids grow inside the uterus and change the shape of the uterus or the location of the fallopian tubes.
- Ongoing low back pain or a feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen (pelvic pressure).
- Infection or a breakdown of uterine fibroid tissue.
Fibroids can cause problems during pregnancy, such as:
- The need for a cesarean section delivery. This is the most common effect of fibroids on pregnancy.
- Premature labor and delivery.
- Miscarriage. This can happen when fibroids are located inside the uterus.
- Pain during the second and third trimesters.
- An abnormal fetal position, such as breech position, at birth.
- Placenta problems.
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John Lipman, MD, Vascular & Interventional Radiology, answered
Fibroids can affect the body in 2 main ways:
- They can cause symptoms most notably heavy menstrual bleeding (which can lead to significant anemia), pelvic pain, and increased urinary frequency.
- Infertility: They can interfere with every part of the fertility pathway from conception to delivery. These are usually submucosal (along the lining) or large intramural (muscular wall) fibroids.