Fibroids are not cancerous, and they do not turn into cancer. They are balls of muscular tissue that grow inside the uterus, on the surface of the uterus or in the muscular wall of the uterus.
Fibroids usually grow slowly during the reproductive years but may increase in size with pregnancy.
At menopause, fibroids shrink because estrogen and progesterone levels decline. Using menopausal hormone therapy containing estrogen after menopause usually does not cause fibroids to grow.
More than half of the women who have fibroids never experience symptoms and require no treatment. In general, the severity of symptoms varies based on the number, size, and location of the fibroids.
Even with a variety of treatment options available, new fibroids may grow back to some degree in the years following most treatments. The need for repeat treatments ranges from 10 percent to 25 percent, depending on the number and sizes of the fibroids initially treated.
The two most common symptoms of fibroids are heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure. Normal menstrual periods last four to seven days, but if you have fibroids, your periods are likely to last longer.
The bleeding might be so heavy that you may need to change your sanitary pads or tampons as often as every hour.
Fibroids may be associated with a handful of reproductive problems, depending on the number of fibroids in the uterus and their size and specific location.
The risk from fibroids may include a higher risk of miscarriage, infertility, premature labor, and labor complications.
Extensive research shows that provider beliefs and biases about Black women are linked to racial disparities in health and health care. Often, these biases are unconscious, but they still affect the care and recommendations provided by the physician and the trust a woman has in the recommended treatment.
Fibroids are most often found during a physical exam. Your health care provider may feel a firm, irregular (often painless) lump during an abdominal or pelvic exam.
Scans – such as ultrasounds and MRIs can confirm a diagnosis.
Ultrasound: Ultrasound is the most commonly used scan for fibroids. It uses sound waves to diagnose fibroids and involves frequencies (pitch) much higher than what you can hear. A doctor or technician places an ultrasound probe on the abdomen or inside the vagina to help scan the uterus and ovaries. It is quick, simple, and generally accurate. However, it relies on the experience and skill of the doctor or technician to produce good results.
MRI: This imaging test uses magnets and radio waves to produce images. It allows your provider to gain a road map of the size, number and location of the fibroids. We can also distinguish between fibroids and adenomyosis, which sometimes gets misdiagnosed. We use MRI to confirm a diagnosis and help determine which treatments are best for you. MRI may also provide a better option for related conditions such as adenomyosis.