Symptoms of uterine fibroids
Growth and location are the main factors that determine if a fibroid leads to symptoms and problems. For example, a small lesion can be symptomatic if located within the uterine cavity while a large lesion on the outside of the uterus may go unnoticed.
In some women, fibroids do not cause symptoms. However, in many women fibroids cause abnormal uterine bleeding and pelvic discomfort. Furthermore, some women with fibroids may not be able to get pregnant naturally. Women with uterine fibroids may experience symptoms such as:
Although uterine fibroids usually aren't dangerous, they can cause discomfort and may lead to complications such as anemia from heavy blood loss. Complications of uterine fibroids generally vary based on the number, size and location of fibroids. Other complications include:
Birth problems - Premature labor and delivery, abnormal fetal position, and separation of the placenta from the uterine wall are possible in pregnant women with fibroids.
Fertility problems - Fibroids usually don't interfere with conception and pregnancy. In fact, fibroids are not a typical cause for infertility and only account for about 3% of cases. However, uterine fibroids can distort or block the fallopian tubes, or interfere with the passage of sperm from the cervix to the fallopian tubes. Furthermore, submucosal fibroids may prevent implantation and growth of an embryo.
Lower abdominal pain - In rare cases, fibroid tumors can grow out of the uterus on a stalk-like projection and cause a sudden, sharp, severe pain in the lower abdomen that requires surgery.
Miscarriage - Research indicates that pregnant women with fibroids are at slightly increased risk of miscarriage. Women diagnosed with fibroids that have experienced repeated pregnancy losses, might remove one or more fibroids to improve the chances of carrying a baby to term.
Rotated uterus - Subserosal or intramural fibroids may become so enlarged that they make the uterus unstable and start to incline or rotate (torsion) the uterus.
When to seek help
Symptoms of uterine fibroids may be indicators of other medical problems. But certain signs and symptoms may signal the need for treatment. You should seek medical help as soon as you notice symptoms, or if you are uncertain whether a growth is a fibroid or another type of tumor, such as an ovarian tumor. Call your doctor if you have:
Seek prompt medical care if you experience severe vaginal bleeding or sharp pelvic pain that comes on suddenly. Furthermore, seek immediate medical help or call 911 if you:
If symptoms of uterine fibroids such as abdominal discomfort, pelvic pain or bloating last more than a few days, or if you experience sharp abdominal pain, see a doctor. This way, s/he can make a proper diagnosis as to whether or not you have uterine fibroids. To learn more about how your doctor will make the diagnosis, read the next section on Diagnosing Uterine Fibroid now.
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