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Uterine Fibroids Health Center

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Uterine Fibroids - Topic Overview

Uterine fibroids are lumps that grow on your uterus. You can have fibroids on the inside camera.gif, on the outside camera.gif, or in the wall camera.gif of your uterus.

Your doctor may call them fibroid tumors, leiomyomas, or myomas. But fibroids are not cancer. You do not need to do anything about them unless they are causing problems.

Fibroids are very common in women in their 30s and 40s. But fibroids usually do not cause problems. Many women never even know they have them.

Doctors are not sure what causes fibroids. But the female hormones estrogen and progesterone seem to make them grow. Your body makes the highest levels of these hormones during the years when you have periods.

Your body makes less of these hormones after you stop having periods (menopause). Fibroids usually shrink after menopause and stop causing symptoms.

Often fibroids do not cause symptoms. Or the symptoms may be mild, like periods that are a little heavier than normal. If the fibroids bleed or press on your organs, the symptoms may make it hard for you to enjoy life. Fibroids make some women have:

  • Long, gushing periods and cramping.
  • Fullness or pressure in their belly.
  • Low back pain.
  • Pain during sex.
  • An urge to urinate often.

Heavy bleeding during your periods can lead to anemia. Anemia can make you feel weak and tired.

Sometimes fibroids can make it harder to get pregnant. Or they may cause problems during pregnancy, such as going into early labor or losing the baby (miscarriage).

To find out if you have fibroids, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. He or she will do a pelvic exam to check the size of your uterus.

Your doctor may send you to have an ultrasound or another type of test that shows pictures of your uterus. These help your doctor see how large your fibroids are and where they are growing.

Your doctor may also do blood tests to look for anemia or other problems.

If your fibroids are not bothering you, you do not need to do anything about them. Your doctor will check them during your regular visits to see if they have gotten bigger.

If your main symptoms are pain and heavy bleeding, try an over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen, and ask your doctor about birth control pills. These can help you feel better and make your periods lighter. If you have anemia, take iron pills and eat foods that are high in iron, like meats, beans, and leafy green vegetables.

If your symptoms bother you a lot, you may want to think about surgery. Most of the time fibroids grow slowly, so you can take time to consider your choices.

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