Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that are made up of the muscle and connective tissue from the wall of the uterus. Fibroids have been known to grow as a single nodule or in clusters. They can range in size from 1 mm to more than 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter. They may grow within the wall of the uterus or they may project into the interior cavity or toward the outer surface of the uterus.
Although the cause of fibroids is not known, they mostly occur in women of reproductive age. Even thought they are benign tumors, fibroids are not associated with cancer and almost never develop into cancer.
Most fibroids don’t cause any symptoms and don’t require treatment other than regular observation by a doctor. Oftentimes, fibroids are discovered during a routine gynecologic examination or during prenatal care.
However, some women who have uterine fibroids have experienced the following symptoms:
• Excessive or painful bleeding during menstruation
• Bleeding between periods
• A feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen
• Frequent urination resulting from a fibroid that compresses the bladder
• Pain during sexual intercourse
• Low back pain
In most cases, doctors determine that uterine fibroids may not require any intervention or, at most, limited treatment. For women who never exhibit any symptoms or have any problems associated with fibroids, typically no treatment is necessary.