What are uterine fibroids?

Anup K. Singh, MD
Diagnostic Radiology
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors in the uterus and can cause pain and heavy bleeding. Watch Anup Singh, MD, of Good Samaritan Hospital, explain the common symptoms of uterine fibroids.
A fibroid is a growth in the muscle of the uterus, says Jessica Ritch, MD, Gynecologist at Aventura Hospital & Medical Center. Learn more about fibroids in this video.
Nathan L. Guerette, MD
Fibroids are benign tumors which can develop in a woman's uterus. In this video, Nathan Guerette, MD, a urogynecologist at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals, discusses what to do if fibroids cause symptoms such as bleeding. 
Edmond E. Pack, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Fibroids are benign tumors that grow within the muscle of the uterus, says Edmond Pack, MD, an OB/GYN at Southern Hills Hospital. In this video, he says that fibroids are linked to family history and ethnic background.
Kord T. Strebel, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Uterine fibroids are a form of a benign tumor, says Kord Strebel, MD, an OB/GYN at Sunrise Hospital. In this video, he describes how fibroids grow and how they affect overall health.
Jessica A. Shepherd, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumors in women; the incidence is high, but not every woman experiences symptoms. Watch OB/GYN specialist Jessica Shepherd, MD, explain what uterine fibroids are, as well as some of the main symptoms.
Fibroids are the most common benign pelvic tumor in women. They arise from the muscular layer of the uterus called the myometrium. They occur in reproductive-aged women and can lead to pelvic pain and pressure as well as uterine bleeding. They may also affect fertility and pregnancy.
Each year in the United States, more than 600,000 hysterectomies are performed, and more than a third are a direct result of uterine fibroids. These are noncancerous growths that range in size from a small pea to a melon. If the fibroids remain small, they may do no harm. Large fibroids are painful and cause swelling and pressure in the bladder, which results in a constant urgency to urinate.
Ashley B. Briggs, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Uterine fibroids can cause problems -- but much of the time, women don't even know they're there. In this video, Dr. Ashley Briggs explains the signs that should make you talk to your doctor.
Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors of the uterus, also known as leiomyomata. Fibroids can cause severe problems with pelvic pressure, pelvic pain, heavy menstrual cycles, abdominal distention, and abdominal bloating. Fibroids are the number one reason that women in the United States undergo hysterectomies. Fibroids are seen much more commonly in African American patients for unknown reasons.
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus (womb). Another medical term for fibroids is "leiomyoma" (leye-oh-meye-OH-muh) or just "myoma". Fibroids are almost always benign (not cancerous). Fibroids can grow as a single tumor, or there can be many of them in the uterus. They can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. In unusual cases they can become very large.

This information is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.
Uterine fibroids are the most common tumors of the female reproductive system. Fibroids – also called uterine myomas, leiomyomas, or fibromas – are benign growths that develop from smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue either just beneath the outer surface of the uterus, or within the uterine wall. Fibroid growth is linked to the presence of estrogen and progesterone, but the mechanism involved is not understood. Fibroids range from the size of a pea to the size of a grapefruit. As many as 50 percent of women develop uterine fibroids at some point in their lives, but because fibroids may not produce symptoms, many women are unaware that they have them.
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Fibroids are noncancerous (benign) tumors of muscle cells that grow in the wall of the uterus. Fibroids may occur in up to 75% of women. They cause symptoms in only about 25%. Fibroids tend to grow during the reproductive years when hormone activity is high. Fibroids shrink after menopause when hormone levels drop. The cause of fibroids is unknown.

A woman with fibroids may have no symptoms. The fibroid may only be diagnosed when the tumor is detected during a physical exam or by a CT scan or ultrasound that was used for an unrelated problem. Fibroids that cause no symptoms do not require treatment. However, your doctor may suggest regular pelvic exams to monitor the fibroid's growth.

Symptoms caused by fibroids include:
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pressure
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
Some women have spotting (light bleeding) between periods. If the fibroids are large, they may cause difficulty with urinating or bowel movements or an unusually frequent need to urinate. Fibroids do not typically cause infertility, but they may grow during pregnancy and are associated with a higher miscarriage rate than average.

There are many ways to treat fibroids if treatment is needed. You and your doctor will make the choice between medical and surgical options or one of the newer approaches. Your age, pregnancy plans, symptoms, and characteristics of the fibroids will be taken into account in choosing the best treatment for you.
Evelyn Minaya, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)

Watch as Obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Evelyn Minaya gives the definition of uterine fibroids.

Uterine fibroids (myomasor leiomyomas) are the most common tumors in the female reproductive system. It is estimated that four out of five women over the age of thirty-five have uterine fibroids.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Fibroids are noncancerous growths of cells that start in the muscular layer of the uterine wall.  There are different types. Watch the animation to learn more about uterine fibroids.

Uterine fibroids, or myomas, are non-cancerous tumors that develop in the wall of the uterus. These growths are made up of muscle and fibrous tissue, and they can form in many different parts of the uterus. Uterine fibroids are actually quite common, and they often don't cause any noticeable symptoms. If they do cause problematic symptoms, they may be treated with medications or surgery.

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.