Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas or myomas, are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. They are composed of muscle cells and other tissues and can vary in size. While fibroids are generally benign, they can cause symptoms and complications in some cases. Here are key points about uterine fibroids:

1. Prevalence:

  • Uterine fibroids are common, with many women experiencing them at some point in their lives.
  • They are most frequently diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s.

2. Types of Fibroids:

  • Intramural Fibroids: Located within the muscular wall of the uterus, these are the most common type.
  • Subserosal Fibroids: Project outside the uterus, often causing pressure symptoms.
  • Submucosal Fibroids: Bulge into the uterine cavity and can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Pedunculated Fibroids: Attached to the uterus by a stalk, extending either outside or inside the uterine cavity.

3. Causes:

  • The exact cause of uterine fibroids is not well-understood, but factors such as genetic predisposition, hormonal influences (estrogen and progesterone), and growth factors may contribute.

4. Symptoms:

  • Many women with uterine fibroids may remain asymptomatic and may not be aware of their presence.
  • Common symptoms include:
    • Heavy menstrual bleeding.
    • Menstrual periods that last longer than a week.
    • Pelvic pain or pressure.
    • Frequent urination or difficulty emptying the bladder.
    • Backache or leg pains.

5. Diagnosis:

  • Diagnosis is often based on a pelvic exam, imaging studies (ultrasound, MRI), and sometimes hysteroscopy or other specialized tests.

6. Treatment:

  • Treatment options depend on the severity of symptoms, the size and location of the fibroids, and the patient’s age and desire for future fertility.
  • Treatment options include:
    • Watchful Waiting: Monitoring without immediate intervention.
    • Medications: Hormonal treatments or medications to control symptoms.
    • Minimally Invasive Procedures: Procedures like uterine artery embolization (UAE) or focused ultrasound surgery (FUS) to shrink or remove fibroids.
    • Surgical Removal: Myomectomy to remove fibroids while preserving the uterus.
    • Hysterectomy: Removal of the entire uterus, a definitive treatment often considered for severe symptoms or when fertility is not a concern.

7. Impact on Fertility:

  • While fibroids can affect fertility, many women with fibroids can still conceive and have successful pregnancies.
  • The location and size of the fibroids can influence their impact on fertility.

8. Prevention:

  • While the exact prevention of fibroids is not known, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing weight, and avoiding excessive alcohol intake may be beneficial.