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Uterine Fibroids

A uterine fibroid is a leiomyoma (benign tumor from smooth muscle tissue) that originates from the smooth muscle layer (myometrium) of the uterus.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: Wikipedia)

About Uterine Fibroids

Many women have benign (non-cancerous) growths in or on the uterus called fibroids. Most fibroids are small and do not cause any problems. When they are detected it is usually by chance.

Depending on where the fibroids are located they may cause period pain, heavy menstrual bleeding or other symptoms. There are different ways of treating fibroids, and the right sort of treatment will depend quite a lot on a woman's individual circumstances — such as whether she is trying to conceive.

Fibroids are made up of muscle cells and connective tissue. Their size and shape vary, and they can be found in different positions... Read more about Uterine Fibroids

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Ulipristal Acetate (Fibristal) (5 mg Tablets): Treatment of Moderate to Severe Signs and Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids in Adult Women of Reproductive Age Who are Eligible for Surgery. The Duration of Treatment is Limited to Three Months [Internet]

The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate the beneficial and harmful effects of ulipristal acetate 5 mg for the treatment of the signs or symptoms due to uterine fibroids in adult women of reproductive age who are eligible for surgical intervention.

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) has an adverse effect on the quality of life of many women. It is not a problem associated with significant mortality. Many women seek help from their general practitioners and it is a common reason for referral into secondary care.

Danazol for treatment of women with symptoms caused by uterine fibroids

There is no evidence from randomised controlled trials demonstrating that the benefits of danazol outweigh its risks in treating uterine fibroids. Danazol is a synthetic isoxazole derivative chemically related to 17‐ethinyl testosterone which creates a high androgen and low estrogen environment, resulting in the wasting of endometrium and shrinkage of fibroids. Despite its benefits, various undesirable side effects have also been reported. These include acne, hirsutism (excess hair in females, with an adult male pattern of distribution), weight gain, irritability, musculoskeletal pain, hot flushes, and breast atrophy, which many women may not tolerate. The review found no evidence demonstrating that the benefits of danazol outweigh the risks in treating uterine fibroids.

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Summaries for consumers

Uterine fibroids: Fibroid embolization

In fibroid embolization, the blood supply to the fibroid is cut off in order to reduce its size. It is an alternative to operations to remove the fibroids (myomectomy) or the uterus (hysterectomy)The aim of fibroid embolization (transcatheter embolization) is to stop symptoms caused by fibroids such as heavy menstrual bleeding, period pain or pressure on the bladder or bowel. The recovery time after embolization is faster than after myomectomy or hysterectomy, but the procedure is not suitable for all women. It is also very common for further treatments to be required at a later stage.

Uterine fibroids: Overview

Many women have benign (non-cancerous) growths in or on the uterus called fibroids. Most fibroids are small and do not cause any problems. Depending on where the fibroids are located they may cause period pain, heavy menstrual bleeding or other symptoms. There are different ways of treating fibroids.

Uterine fibroids: Surgery

Using medication to treat fibroid symptoms usually only helps for as long as it is taken. Many women who have more severe pain and heavy menstrual bleeding end up considering surgery as an option. There are a number of different types of surgical treatments, each with its own pros and cons.Surgery is done in the hope that it can permanently stop the symptoms of uterine fibroids, and some women do experience long-term relief. But as with any other type of surgery, there are always benefits and risks. What you think about the different advantages and disadvantages will determine whether surgery could be an option, and if so, what kind. The size, number and location of the fibroids will also influence which type of treatment should be used. Not all types of surgery are suitable for women who still want to conceive.Your doctor may recommend taking hormones such as GnRH analogues several weeks before having surgery. These kinds of hormone analogues are used to shrink the fibroids, minimizing the strain put on the uterus and making the procedure as gentle as possible. This is the same reason that the drug ulipristal acetate is sometimes used.Removing individual fibroids is not a good idea if it might cause too much scarring on the uterus or if the risk of bleeding during or after surgery is too great. Plus, it is not always absolutely clear that the symptoms will improve after surgery. In these cases a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is an option – or possibly another non-surgical treatment option such as fibroid embolization. Fibroid embolization cuts off the blood supply to the fibroid, causing it to shrink.

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Terms to know

Cervical Fibroid
Cervical fibroids are located in the wall of the cervix (neck of the uterus).
Intramural Fibroid
Intramural (pronounced in­tra­-MYUR­-ul) fibroids grow in between the muscles of the uterus.
Myometrium
The muscular outer layer of the uterus.
Pedunculated Fibroid
Some fibroids grow on stalks that grow out from the surface of the uterus or into the cavity of the uterus. These are called pedunculated (pronounced ped­-UN-­kyoo-­lay­-ted) fibroids.
Submucosal Fibroid
Submucosal (pronounced sub-­myoo-­KOH­-sul) fibroids grow just underneath the uterine lining and into the endometrial cavity.
Subserosal Fibroid
Subserosal (pronounced sub-­sur­-OH-­sul) fibroids grow on the outside of the uterus.
Uterus (Womb)
The small, hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman's pelvis. This is the organ in which a fetus develops. Also called womb.

More about Uterine Fibroids

Photo of an adult woman

Also called: Uterine leiomyomas, Uterine fibromyomas, Uterine fibroleiomyomas

See Also: Heavy Menstrual Bleeding, Period Pain, Menstruation

Other terms to know: See all 7
Cervical Fibroid, Intramural Fibroid, Myometrium

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