What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths in the uterus. They typically appear during childbearing years and can range in size from small to large. If they grow large, they can distort and change the shape of the uterus.

In severe cases, the fibroid can cause your uterus to expand to the point where it reaches your ribcage. Some women might only get one fibroid, while others have multiple. Some fibroids can appear without symptoms and go unnoticed.

Your doctor may find fibroids during your pelvic exam, even if you haven’t been experiencing any symptoms.

What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?

The symptoms often depend on the location, size, and number of fibroids, but some of the common symptoms include:

  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Back and leg pain
  • Pelvic pressure or pain
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Menstrual periods that last longer than one week

What causes fibroids?

The cause of fibroids isn’t exactly clear, and many factors play a part.

  • Genetic Changes: Some fibroids have gene changes making them different from normal uterine muscle cells.
  • Hormones: Experts believe estrogen and progesterone promote fibroid growth.
  • Other Growth Factors: Other growth factors, such as an insulin-like growth factor linked to high insulin levels, may affect fibroid growth.

How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?

You doctor can diagnose fibroids through various testing methods, such as an MRI, a hysteroscopy, or a pelvic ultrasound.

What are the treatment options for uterine fibroids?

Fibroids grow slowly, and some don’t grow at all. If your fibroids don’t give you symptoms or are only mildly annoying, your doctor carefully monitors your condition.

Your doctor may prescribe medications that aim to regulate your hormones and menstrual cycle and treat heavy bleeding, pelvic pressure, and other troubling symptoms. Non-hormonal anti-inflammatory medicines are also helpful in relieving pain.

For more severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery. Special medication that can only be used short-term may be prescribed to shrink the fibroids before surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove the fibroids, which usually results in an improvement of symptoms like heavy periods or pelvic pain.

If you have fibroids and plan on having children, a myomectomy can be an alternative to a hysterectomy.


A myomectomy is a surgical procedure that is done to remove uterine fibroids, benign growths that can develop on the uterus and affect women during their reproductive years. Unlike a hysterectomy, where the doctor removes the entire uterus, a myomectomy leaves your uterus intact.

The nature of your myomectomy procedure depends on the number, location, and size of your uterine fibroids.

There are a few different surgical approaches your doctor might take to remove your fibroids.

Abdominal Myomectomy

In this type of surgery, your doctor makes an incision along your abdomen to reach your uterus and remove the fibroids. The incision may be horizontal along your bikini line or vertical across your lower stomach.

Laparoscopic Myomectomy

In a laparoscopic myomectomy, your surgeon makes a much smaller incision–or a series of small incisions–in or near your belly button. By inserting a laparoscope inside the incision, which is a thin tube with a camera attached to the end, your surgeon can access and remove the fibroids with tiny surgical tools. With laparoscopic surgery, you’ll have less pain and faster recovery time.

Recovery from a Myomectomy

Depending on the type of myomectomy you have, you might need to rest and recover for a few days. Some women experience light vaginal spotting or bleeding for a few days or weeks. After your body has healed, however, you can expect to have relief from any symptoms that you were experiencing before the procedure.

If your doctor recommended a myomectomy due to fertility problems, you will have better odds of conception afterward. Most women must wait at least 3 months before attempting to conceive, as the uterus needs time to heal.


A hysterectomy is a treatment option if you are done having children. It can help you find permanent relief from a variety of medical conditions, like uterine fibroids.

This information is provided for informational educational purposes only, and should not be considered as individual medical advice. Please discuss your specific situation with your medical provider.

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