Benign Uterine Growths (Growths of the Womb)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Quick GuideWomen's Health Pictures Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Uterine Fibroids

Women's Health Pictures Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Uterine Fibroids

What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids and what do they look like?

Most women with uterine fibroids have no symptoms. However, fibroids can cause a number of symptoms depending on their size, location within the uterus, and how close they are to adjacent pelvic organs. Large fibroids can cause:

  • Bleeding
  • Pressure
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pressure on the bladder with frequent or even obstructed urination
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Reproductive difficulties such as infertility, miscarriage, or premature labor
  • Pressure on the rectum with pain during defecation.

Abnormal uterine bleeding is the most common symptom of a fibroid. If the tumors are near the uterine lining, or interfere with the blood flow to the lining, they can cause heavy periods, painful periods, prolonged periods or spotting between menses. Uterine fibroids that are deteriorating can sometimes cause severe, localized pain.

Picture of uterine fibroids
Picture of Uterine Fibroids

If uterine fibroids are benign, why are they the reason for so many hysterectomies (surgeries performed to remove the uterus)?

The main answer is that uterine fibroids can cause bleeding. This bleeding can sometimes be significant and lead to anemia. Fibroids can also lead to complications as discussed in the next section. Fortunately, there are also many non-surgical means available to treat fibroids.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/2/2015
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