Do uterine fibroids get worse over time?

Rafael J. Perez, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Uterine fibroids can become worse over time in the presentation of the symptoms. The patient may experience heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged menstrual periods, bleeding in between periods, abdominal fullness accompanied by gas or constipation, painful periods, increase in urinary frequency and painful intercourse.
The symptoms from uterine fibroids (most commonly heavy uterine bleeding, pelvic pain, and increased urinary frequency) can get worse over time as the fibroids grow under hormonal stimulation. However, there are many women who can have fibroids in their uterus throughout their entire life and not have any symptoms from them (i.e. "passenger" fibroids), and therefore not need any treatment. Diet (low fat, increase fruits/vegetables) and exercise (lower weight, lower body fat) are always helpful, and if their are no symptoms or the symptoms are mild, these may be the only things a woman needs to do. Fibroid symptoms typically cease when a woman goes in to menopause (i.e. withdrawl of hormonal stimulation). 

Uterine fibroids may continue to grow if they're left untreated, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll cause worse symptoms over time. If uterine fibroids aren't causing any symptoms, doctors may not recommend any treatment other than frequent check-ups to make sure that the fibroids aren't growing. Usually, uterine fibroids start out as tiny growths, and some may stay small but others may grow as large as a basketball. The larger the fibroid, the more likely that it will cause symptoms and require treatment. Sometimes, fibroids can re-grow and worsen even after they're treated once. If you experience any new symptoms, or if your symptoms suddenly worsen, see your doctor to make sure your uterine fibroids aren't growing.

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.