Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during your childbearing years. They aren't associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.
As many as 3 out of 4 women will develop uterine fibroids at some point in their lives. Though the cause is unknown, certain risk factors seem to be linked to developing uterine fibroids, such as:
- Heredity: Your chances of developing uterine fibroids are greater if one or more family members have them
- Race: African American women are more likely to have fibroids than are women of other racial groups.
- Pregnancy and childbirth:
Pregnancy and childbirth may decrease your risk of developing uterine fibroids
Most women who have uterine fibroids have no symptoms, but for women who do, the most common symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged periods, pelvic pain, frequent urination, constipation, and leg pains.
Rarely, fibroids cause acute pain when they outgrow their blood supply. Tissue from a degenerating fibroid can seep into surrounding tissue and cause pain and fever.
Uterine fibroids are frequently found incidentally during a routine pelvic exam. Your doctor may feel irregularities in the shape of your uterus, suggesting the presence of fibroids.
In general, uterine fibroids seldom require treatment, but certain surgical procedures to shrink or remove fibroids may help if you suffer from extreme discomfort. Rarely, fibroids require emergency treatment if they cause sudden, sharp pelvic pain or profuse menstrual bleeding.
Pregnancy and fibroids
It is possible that fibroids may interfere with the passage of sperm from your cervix to your fallopian tubes. Fibroids may prevent implantation and growth of an embryo, and in these cases, doctors often recommend surgery to remove these fibroids before attempting to conceive.