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Uterine Fibroids

Uterine Fibroids
Uterine Fibroids
Causes and Risk Factors

Uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are diagnosed in 2/3 of all women by the age of 50. Uterine fibroids are particularly common among African American women, and these types of fibroids tend to occur at an earlier age and are often larger and more symptomatic for these women. But what are uterine fibroids? And what part of the body do they affect?

Reproductive organ anatomy
The female reproductive organs are located in the pelvis between the bladder and the rectum. The female reproductive organs include:

  • the fallopian tubes
  • the ovaries
  • the uterus
  • the vagina

The uterus is a pear shaped organ with three layers that can expand greatly in size. The inner lining of the uterus is discharged outside of the body during the menstrual period when an egg released from the ovaries is not fertilized. When a woman get pregnant, the fetus stays in the uterus until is born. The middle, muscular layer of the uterus creates labor contractions, which stimulate birth. The lowest part of the uterus is called the cervix, which opens into the vagina.

What are uterine fibroids?
A tumor is an abnormal growth of cells and tissue. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors of the smooth muscle cells in the middle layer of the uterus (myometrium). After a single cell reproduces repeatedly, it creates a pale, firm, rubbery mass that can remain small or grow over time. The collagen content of such tumors creates a hard, fibrous texture (fibroid). Uterine fibroids may remain very small for a long time, suddenly grow rapidly, or grow slowly over a number of years. These tumors are also called leiomyomata or myomas.

A woman may experience only one fibroid or many of varying sizes. The size, shape, and location of fibroids can vary greatly. For example, uterine fibroids can grow in the wall of the uterus, or can project into the interior cavity of the uterus or toward the outer surface of the uterus. Fibroids range in size from seedlings to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. Fibroids can grow as a single nodule or in clusters and range in size from 1/10 to 8 inches in diameter. As they grow, uterine fibroids can distort the inside and the outside of the uterus. Sometimes fibroids grow large enough to completely fill the pelvis or abdomen.

Types of uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are classified by location. Most fibroids start in an intramural location, or within the layer of the muscle of the uterus. Very rarely, fibroids are found in the supporting structures of the uterus such as the round ligament, broad ligament, or uterosacral ligament that contain smooth muscle tissue. However, the most common types and locations of uterine fibroids include:

Cervical fibroids – Cervical fibroids are located in the wall of the cervix.

Intracavitary fibroid  - This type of fibroid is a lesion within the uterine cavity can be passed through the cervix.

Intramural fibroids – Intramural fibroids are located within the wall of the uterus and are the most common type of uterine fibroids .

Subserosal fibroids – This type of tissue growth is located underneath the mucosal (peritoneal) surface of the uterus and can become very large. They can also grow to become a parasitic leiomyoma (pedunculated fibroids).

Submucosal fibroids – Submucosal fibroids are located in the muscle beneath the endometrium of the uterus and destroy the uterine cavity; even a small lesion in this location may lead to bleeding and infertility.

Uterine fibroids are usually not a serious threat to a woman’s health. But what causes a uterine fibroid? And how can you avoid the risk of developing one? Click here to learn more about risk factors and what causes uterine cysts.

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Tags: african american women, fallopian tubes, contractions, Infertility, menstrual, american, pregnant, bladder, abdomen, african, anatomy, cervix, muscle, vagina, female, affect, period, tumor, woman, cells
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