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Fibroid: what you need to know

Fibroid is noncancerous growths that develop within or on the uterus, constituting the most common type of noncancerous tumor in women, affecting up to 80% by the age of 50.

Size and Impact

The size and impact of fibroids vary significantly. While small ones may go unnoticed, larger ones can trigger various symptoms, including pain, intense bleeding, and other concerns. In some cases, fibroids can complicate the path to pregnancy.

Fibroid Symptoms

The most common symptoms include:

  • Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Common among women with fibroids, leading to longer, intense, or more frequent periods and bleeding between periods.
  • Painful Menstrual Cramps: Fibroids can cause severe or new menstrual cramps.
  • Pelvic Pain: Fibroids within the uterus can cause constant or intermittent pain, often amplified during activities like sex or exercise.
  • Bladder or Rectal Pressure: Fibroids in certain uterine parts can exert pressure, causing frequent urination, constipation, or pain during urination or bowel movements.
  • Frequent Urination: Fibroid growth in the lower uterus may press on the bladder, causing a heightened urge to urinate.
  • Constipation: Enlarged fibroids at the back of the uterus can pressure the rectum, causing constipation or difficulty with bowel movements.
  • Pain During Sex: Fibroids growing in specific areas of the uterus can make sex painful.

Additional Fibroid-Related Symptoms

In some cases, fibroids may lead to:

  • Infertility: Depending on their location and size, fibroids can hinder fertilized egg implantation or block fallopian tubes, potentially affecting conception.
    Spontaneous Abortion: Especially with large or rapidly growing fibroids, the risk of pregnancy loss increases.
    Premature Birth: Fibroids may elevate the risk of premature delivery.
  • Anemia: Intense menstrual bleeding can lead to anemia, a condition where the body lacks sufficient healthy red blood cells.

Causes of Fibroids

The exact cause is unknown, believed to result from a combination of factors, including genetics, hormones, race, and age.

Fibroid Risk Factors

Women more likely to develop fibroids include those of African descent, obese individuals, those with a family predisposition to uterine fibroids, and women who have never been pregnant.

Diagnosing Fibroids

Diagnosis involves a physical exam and imaging tests:

  • Physical Exam: Doctors may feel large fibroids during a physical exam of the abdomen and pelvis.
    Imaging Tests:
  • Pelvic Ultrasound: Non-invasive imaging using sound waves to visualize the uterus and ovaries.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): Detailed imaging utilizing magnetic fields and radio waves.
  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): Involves injecting dye into the uterus and fallopian tubes, followed by X-rays.
  • Hysteroscopy: A thin, illuminated tube inserted through the vagina allows the doctor to view the uterus’s interior and collect tissue samples.
  • Blood Tests: aren’t typically used for diagnosis but may rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.

After diagnosis, determining fibroid size and location guides treatment decisions.

Fibroid Treatment

Treatment depends on size and symptoms:


Medications can alleviate symptoms but don’t remove fibroids. Options include hormonal therapy (birth control pills, progesterone, or GnRH agonists) and pain relievers (ibuprofen or naproxen).


Surgery may be necessary for severe symptoms or pregnancy difficulties. Types include myomectomy (removing fibroids while preserving the uterus) and hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus).

Post-Operative Recovery

Recovery times depend on the surgery type:


Recovery times vary based on the chosen surgical approach. Abdominal myomectomy typically involves 2-3 days in the hospital and 4-6 weeks of home recovery. Laparoscopic myomectomy requires 1-2 days in the hospital and 2-4 weeks at home. Hysteroscopic myomectomy, often outpatient, allows for a faster recovery in a few days.

After myomectomy, expect pain, bleeding, and fatigue. Avoid heavy work and strenuous activities for weeks.


Recovery duration depends on the surgical technique. Abdominal hysterectomy involves 3-5 days in the hospital and 6-8 weeks at home. Laparoscopic hysterectomy requires a shorter hospital stay (1-2 days) and 4-6 weeks at home. Vaginal hysterectomy, often outpatient, leads to faster recovery in a few days.

Post-hysterectomy, you may experience pain, bleeding, and fatigue. Follow your doctor’s instructions and avoid strenuous activities for weeks.

  • Recovery Tips
  • Rest adequately.
  • Stay well-hydrated.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Take prescribed pain relievers.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions.
  • For any recovery concerns, consult your doctor.

In summary, fibroids are prevalent noncancerous growths affecting many women, with symptoms ranging from heavy bleeding to pelvic pain. Diagnosis involves physical exams and imaging tests, and treatment options vary based on size and symptoms, including medication or surgery. Post-operative recovery times depend on the type of surgery performed, and adherence to medical advice is crucial for a successful recovery.

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