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.

Quick GuideUterine Fibroid Pictures: Anatomy Diagrams, Pictures of Fibroids, Tests, Treatments, and More

Uterine Fibroid Pictures: Anatomy Diagrams, Pictures of Fibroids, Tests, Treatments, and More

What other medical treatments are available for uterine fibroids?

It is important to remember that fibroids only require treatment if they cause bleeding or pain. There are several medical treatments available for fibroids. Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) can provide many benefits for women with fibroids. They decrease the amount of uterine bleeding by about 50% and decrease cramping pain during menstruation. They also may also decrease the risk of fibroids.

Other medical treatments include the use of drugs that turn off the production of estrogen from the ovaries (GnRH analogs). These medications are given for three to six months. When successful, they can shrink the fibroids by as much as 50%.

Mifepristone (RU-486) is an antiprogestin drug that can shrink fibroids to an extent comparable to treatment with the GnRH analogs. This drug, sometimes known as the "morning-after pill," is also used to terminate early pregnancy. Treatment with mifepristone also reduces the bleeding associated with fibroids, but this treatment can be associated with adverse side effects such as overgrowth (hyperplasia) of the endometrium (uterine lining).

Danazol (Danocrine) is an androgenic steroid hormone that has been used to reduce bleeding in women with fibroids, since this drug causes menstruation to cease. However, danazol does not appear to shrink the size of fibroids.

Letrozole (Femara), an aromatase inhibitor blocks the conversion of testosterone to estrogen and is used to treat some women with breast cancer. Preliminary studies have shown a potential role for aromatase inhibitors in the management of fibroids, but more research is needed.

The administration of raloxifene (Evista) (a drug used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women) has been shown to decrease the size of fibroids in postmenopausal women, but results with this therapy in premenopausal women have been conflicting.

What are the complications of uterine fibroids?

Fibroids themselves do not require treatment, but women with fibroids can develop complications as a result of fibroids, including bleeding and pelvic pain (as discussed previously). It is because of symptoms that doctors may suggest treatment for a fibroid. Only 20% to 50% of women with fibroids have symptoms due to the condition, primarily bleeding or pelvic pressure.

In addition to bleeding and pelvic pressure, fibroids can cause recurrent miscarriage, infertility, premature labor, and labor complications. However, a substantial majority of women with fibroids are able to have successful pregnancies unless the uterine cavity is unusually distorted.

What other medical treatments are available for uterine fibroids?

What is adenomyosis?

Adenomyosis is the growth of uterine tissue from one particular layer of the uterus (the endometrial glands from the lining tissue of the uterus) into the "wrong" layer (the muscle layer, called the myometrium). It is a benign condition, but it can enlarge the uterus, clinically appearing as a growth. Adenomyosis is similar to endometriosis, which is the growth of cells similar to those that form the inside of the uterus (endometrial cells), in a location outside of the uterus. In adenomyosis, the abnormal growth of endometrial cells occurs within the muscular layer of the uterus itself rather than outside the uterus.

The cause of adenomyosis is not well understood. Some researchers believe that previous surgeries on the uterus (including Cesarean births) can cause the endometrial (uterine lining) cells to spread and grow in an abnormal location (the muscular layer of the uterine wall). Another possibility is that adenomyosis arises from tissues in the uterine wall itself that may have been deposited there during development of the uterus.

Adenomyosis is more common after childbirth.

What are the symptoms of adenomyosis and what does it look like?

Adenomyosis may not produce any symptoms, although some women may experience:

Picture of an adenomyosis
Picture of Adenomyosis

How is adenomyosis diagnosed?

The true diagnosis of adenomyosis is only possible with actual microscopic examination of uterine tissue. This means that it is ultimately diagnosed after hysterectomy. Sometimes the results of a physical examination and/or ultrasound examination may suggest the presence of adenomyosis.

How is adenomyosis treated?

Pain medications are used to relieve the cramping pain of adenomyosis. Currently, the only effective treatment for adenomyosis is a hysterectomy, meaning removal of the uterus. This requires a recovery period and carries the risk of surgery and anesthesia, as described previously. The decision as to whether or not to have a hysterectomy depends on the severity of the symptoms and the overall health of the patient. Controlling the menstrual cycle through hormonal contraception (the pill) or use of other hormones may provide some symptom relief.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/28/2016

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