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Uterine Fibroids Health Center

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What Happens

Uterine fibroids can grow on the inside wall of the uterus, within the muscle wall of the uterus, or on the outer wall of the uterus. They can alter the shape of the uterus as they grow. Over time, the size, shape, location, and symptoms of fibroids can change.

As women age, they are more likely to have uterine fibroids, especially from their 30s and 40s through menopause (around age 50). Uterine fibroids can stay the same for years with few or no symptoms, or you can have a sudden, rapid growth of fibroids.

Recommended Related to Uterine Fibroids

Understanding Uterine Fibroids -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Fibroids are often first found during a routine pelvic exam. To double check, an ultrasound may be performed, either transvaginally or abdominally. A three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can also be used to find the fibroids, a process called fibroid mapping.

Read the Understanding Uterine Fibroids -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

Fibroids do not grow before the start of menstrual periods (puberty). They sometimes grow larger during the first trimester of pregnancy, and they usually shrink for the rest of a pregnancy. After menopause, when a woman's hormone levels drop, fibroids usually shrink and don't come back.

Complications of uterine fibroids aren't common. They include:

  • Anemia from heavy bleeding.
  • Blockage of the urinary tract or bowels, if a fibroid presses on them.
  • Infertility, especially if the fibroids grow inside the uterus and change the shape of the uterus or the location of the fallopian tubes.
  • Ongoing low back pain or a feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen (pelvic pressure).
  • Infection or a breakdown of uterine fibroid tissue.

Fibroids can cause problems during pregnancy, such as:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 19, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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