What are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous (benign) tumors that develop in the womb (uterus), a female reproductive organ. Uterine fibroid is also known as lieomyoma, fibroma, fibromyoma, lieofibromyoma and fibrolieomyoma.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

  • Uterine fibroids are common. As many as 1 in 5 women may have fibroids during their childbearing years (from menarche to menopause). Half of women have fibroids by age 50.
  • Fibroids are rare in women under age 20. They are more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
  • The cause of uterine fibroids is unknown. However, their growth has been linked to the hormone estrogen. As long as a woman with fibroids is menstruating, a fibroid will probably continue to grow, usually slowly.
  • Fibroids can be so tiny that you need a microscope to see them. However, they can grow very large. They may fill the entire uterus, and may weigh several pounds after anteverted uterus. Although it is possible for just one fibroid to develop, usually there are more than one.

Fibroids are often described by their location in the uterus:

  • Myometrial – in the muscle wall of the uterus
  • Submucosal – just under the surface of the uterine lining
  • Subserosal – just under the outside covering of the uterus
  • Pendunculated – occurring on a long stalk on the outside of the uterus or inside the cavity of the uterus

Uterine fibroids during pregnancy

the Women who have fibroids are more likely to have problems during pregnancy and delivery. This doesn’t mean there will be problems. Most women with fibroids have normal pregnancies. A common complication of fibroids during pregnancy is localized pain, typically between the first and second trimesters. Some other problems seen in women with fibroids are;

  • Cesarean section:┬áThe risk of needing a c-section is six times greater for women with fibroids
  • Baby is breech: The baby is not positioned well for vaginal delivery
  • Labor fails to progress
  • Placental abruption: The placenta breaks away from the wall of the uterus before delivery. When this happens, the fetus does not get enough oxygen
  • Preterm delivery
Discuss with your obstetrician if you have fibroids and you are planning to become pregnant. All obstetricians have experience dealing with fibroids and pregnancy.