Uterine fibroids are noncancerous (benign) tumors that develop in the uterus (womb), a female reproductive organ.
Leiomyoma; Fibromyoma; Myoma; Fibroids
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Uterine fibroids are the most common pelvic
Fibroids usually affect women over age 30. They are rare in women under 20, and often shrink and cause no symptoms in women who have gone through menopause. They are more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
The cause of uterine fibroid tumors is unknown. However, fibroid growth seems to depend on the hormone estrogen. As long as a woman with fibroids is menstruating, a fibroid will probably continue to grow, usually slowly.
Fibroids can be so tiny that you need a microscope to see them. However, they can grow very large. They may fill the entire uterus, and may weigh several pounds. Although it is possible for just one fibroid to develop, usually there are more than one.
Fibroids are often described by their location in the uterus:
- Myometrial -- in the muscle wall of the uterus
- Submucosal -- just under the surface of the uterine lining
- Subserosal -- just under the outside covering of the uterus
- Pendunculated -- occurring on a long stalk on the outside of the uterus or inside the cavity of the uterus
Review Date: 01/11/2011
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine (9/2/2009).