How do uterine fibroids affect the body?

Rafael J. Perez, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Uterine 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.
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.

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.

Continue Learning about Uterine Fibroids

Uterine Fibroids

If you have uterine fibroids, you may never even notice that they are there. Ranging from the size of a small seed to grapefruit-sized, fibroids are tumors on the uterus that rarely cause harm. Some women have true discomfort with ...

fibroids, including pain in the abdomen or low back, or pain during sex. Sometimes, uterine fibroids can cause miscarriage, preterm labor, or even lead to infertility. Women in their 40s and 50s, women of African-American descent and women that are overweight are at higher risk of developing fibroids, although an estimated 20-80% of women will have them at some point before they turn 50. If your doctor notices fibroids during an ultrasound or pelvic exam, he or she may want to treat them with medication or surgery.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.