Why do fibroids cause different symptoms among women?

Rafael J. Perez, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Uterine fibroids can cause a range of symptoms among women, depending on the location and size of the fibroid:
  • The fibroid’s location and size can affect the bladder by pressing on the organ, causing frequent urination.
  • Bowel function can be affected due to the location of the fibroid compressing against the bowel, causing abdominal pain, constipation and gas.
  • If the fibroid is located under or near the endometrial lining (the uterine lining) or in a location that interferes with the blood flow to the endometrial lining, this can cause heavy bleeding.
  • Enlarged fibroids located toward the lower part of the uterus can cause pelvic pain and painful intercourse. 
Fibroids are benign tumors made up of smooth muscle and fibrous tissue. They are very firm and hard to the touch. The hardness of these tumors along with the location of the fibroids in the uterus determines what symptoms a woman might experience, keeping in mind that most women with fibroids do not experience any symptoms.
Fibroids that are located centrally along the lining of the uterus (submucosal) can stretch the lining to cause heavy menstrual bleeding. Fibroids along the outer walls (subserosal) can cause bulk symptoms which include pain if they are located laterally to press on pelvic nerves or increased urinary frequency if they are located anteriorly (i.e. on top of the bladder). Intramural fibroids which are located in the main muscular part of the uterus can cause either heavy bleeding if they become large enough to reach the lining, or bulk symptoms if they grow outwardly enough, or both.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Different types and locations of uterine fibroids affect the symptoms they can cause. Watch the animation to learn more about symptoms of fibroids.

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.