Fibroids are benign(non-cancerous)growths that form and grow inside of or in the immediately surrounding areas of a woman’s uterus. The medical term for a fibroid tumor is leiomyoma. Uterine muscle cells start to grow abnormally, and as they grow they form a uterine tumor. Fibroids are very common, with many women usually developing them at some point in their lives. Many, though, are harmless and so small they will go completely unnoticed.

It is not exactly known why women develop fibroids, but estrogen plays a key part in making them grow. It is known that woman who start menstruation earlier have a higher chance of developing fibroids, along with African-American women and women with a familial history of fibroids. On the other hand, women who have had children and women on birth control pills were less likely to develop the tumors. There are four types of fibroids, myometrial, submucosal, subserosal and pedunculated, and these are classified according to where they grow in or on the uterus. Fibroids can very in size, from tiny specks to weighing over 10 pounds each.

Manu women don’t have any symptoms from fibroids, but when they do, the symptoms may include heavy or prolonged menstrual periods, bloating or pain in the pelvic area, and constipation. Medium to large sized fibroids are diagnosed with a manual examination by a physician or using imaging, such as an ultrasound or an MRI. Occasionally a biopsy is done if there is a reason to believe the fibroid may be malignant. Most fibroids do not require any treatment, but there are many various non-surgical methods to treat them, such as oral contraceptives, hormone treatments and pain medications. Surgical options are also available if the fibroids create serious problems. Some of the available options include myomectomy or hysterectomy. Another option for woman who cannot tolerate invasive surgical procedures for any number of health reasons is uterine artery embolization (UAE), a procedure that cuts off the blood flow to the fibroid, causing it to shrink.

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