Uterine fibroids are sometimes referred to as “fibroids” or as leiomyomas or simply myomas. They are benign (non-cancerous) growths that develop in the smooth muscle layers within the uterus.
Bleeding symptoms include heavy and prolonged menstrual periods as well as unusual bleeding in between periods, which can lead to anemia.
Pressure symptoms include pelvic pain including pain during sex, urinary frequency or even incontinence, and constipation. The pelvic pain or pressure is usually secondary to the fibroid compressing nearby structures, or caused by the weight of the fibroid.
The bulk of the fibroid can also cause pressure on the urinary system causing increased frequency of urination, including the need to get up in the night. This can also lead to incontinence in some cases. Increased pressure on the bowel can lead to constipation and bloating.
Fibroids can be located in various parts of the uterus. There are three primary types:
Subserosal fibroids which develop under the outside covering of the uterus and expand outwardly through the wall giving the uterus a knobby appearance. These usually do not affect bleeding, but can cause pelvic pain, back pain and generalized pain symptoms.
Intramural fibroids which develop within the lining of the uterus and expand inwardly or outwardly, increasing the size of the uterus. This is most common location for fibroids, and can cause bleeding or pressure symptoms.
Submucosal fibroids, which are just under the lining of the uterus. These are most often associated with bleeding symptoms.