Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths that develop in or just outside a woman’s uterus due to normal uterus muscle cells that start growing abnormally. They are the most common type of growth found in and around a woman’s pelvis. In fact, many women have uterine fibroids at some point in their life. Fibroids can be found during a routine pelvic exam with your gynecologist.
No one knows what causes uterine fibroids, but their growth seems to depend on estrogen. Uterine fibroids don’t develop until after puberty, and usually after age 30. They tend to shrink or disappear after menopause, when estrogen levels fall.
African-American women tend to get uterine fibroids two to three times as often as Caucasian women, and also tend to have more symptoms from uterine fibroids. Other factors may influence development of uterine fibroids such as pregnancy, early menstruation, taking birth control pills or having a family history.
In most women, fibroids remain small and do not cause symptoms. However, in some women, fibroids can cause problems due to their size, quantity, and location.. Some experts believe that some uterine fibroids can occasionally interfere with fertility and pregnancy. Rarely, a uterine fibroid projecting into the uterus might either block an embryo from implanting there, or cause problems with the pregnancy later. Some symptoms associated with uterine fibroids may also be signs of other issues. You should see your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
• Changes in menstruation
• Longer, more frequent, or heavy
• Menstrual pain (cramps)
• Vaginal bleeding at times other
• Anemia (from blood loss)
• In the abdomen or lower back
(often dull, heavy and aching,
but may be sharp)
• During sex
• Difficulty urinating or frequent urination
• Constipation, rectal pain, or
difficult bowel movements
• Abdominal cramps
• Enlarged uterus and abdomen
Many treatments exist for uterine fibroids
and depend on individual circumstances or
the need to preserve fertility. Some treatments
• Surgical removal
• Cutting off the blood the supply
to the fibroid through uterine artery
• Removal of the uterus
• Medication to shrink the fibroids
Women who wish to undergo treatment for uterine fibroids, should have a thorough evaluation with an obstetrician–gynecologist to ensure the appropriate therapy and ensure that the reproductive wishes of the patient are also taken into consideration.
Dr. Rohana Motley-White is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She sees patients at both Mount SinaiMedical Center in Miami Beach, as well as in Mount Sinai Aventura’s multi-specialty physician office. For more information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Motley-White, call 305- 674-CARE (2273) or visit www.msmc.com.