GynaeMD Women’s & Rejuvenation Clinic

Uterine Fibroids Symptoms

Uterine fibroids are abnormal growths on the uterus.

About 30% of women above the age of 35 will have uterine fibroids. Fortunately, the risk of the fibroids being cancerous remains low and, in most cases, they do not cause any symptoms nor affect daily activities. Uterine fibroids vary in size and numbers, with some only growing to the size of an apple seed.

What causes fibroids?

The exact cause of uterine fibroids has yet to be determined, but they are commonly associated with an increase in estrogen levels. For example, during a woman’s reproductive years and pregnancy when the estrogen levels rise, fibroids are likely to develop and increase in size. It has also been observed that during menopause, when estrogen levels start to decrease, fibroids begin to shrink.

Some studies attribute the appearance of fibroids to genetic factors—if your mother or sister has uterine fibroids, the risks are higher for you. Fibroids are also more commonly found in an Afro Caribbean population.

What are the symptoms and complications?

The symptoms of fibroids often depend on its location. Submucosal fibroids for example develop beneath and distort the inner lining of the uterine cavity. They often cause prolong and heavy menstrual flow.

Although uterine fibroids are not life-threatening, the accompanying symptoms may cause discomfort and inconvenience. They may also lead to complications like anaemia resulting from heavy menstrual blood flow.

Some common symptoms to look out for include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Abdominal pain, cramps or discomfort
  • Menstrual period lasting for more than a week
  • Frequent urination
  • Backache and leg pain
  • Constipation and bloated stomach
  • Miscarriage and infertility

What are the types of fibroids?

Fibroids are classified based on their locations in and around the uterus. The 4 main types are intramural fibroids, subserosal fibroids, submucosal fibroids and pedunculated fibroids.

Intramural Fibroids

Intramural fibroids are the most common type of fibroids and they grow within the inner walls of the uterus. These types of fibroids may enlarge and distort the womb. Common symptoms associated with these fibroids are pelvic pain, lower back pain and prolong heavy menstrual bleeding.

Subserosal Fibroids

Subserosal fibroids develops on the outer wall of the uterus and extends outward. As they grow bigger, they may cause one side of the uterus to appear larger. Some signs of subserosal fibroids include abdominal distention, back pain and bladder pressure.

Submucosal Fibroids

This type of fibroid grows beneath the inner lining of the uterine cavity. There is a risk of the fibroids protruding into the uterine cavity, leading to heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding. They can potentially increase the risk of miscarriage for women attempting pregnancy especially if the uterine cavity is distorted.

Pedunculated Fibroids

These fibroids are attached to the uterine wall by a stalk-like growth called a peduncle. They can grow both inside and outside of the uterine cavity. They are associated with prolonged menstrual bleeding and abdominal pain depending on their location and size. The pedunculated fibroids that are found inside the uterine cavity can increase the risk of miscarriage and infertility by impairing implantation.