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National Women’s Health Information Center


Fibroids are benign (not cancerous) tumors made mostly of muscle tissue. They are found in the wall of the uterus and sometimes on the cervix. They can range in size from as small as a pea to more than 6 inches wide. With larger fibroids, a woman’s uterus can grow to the size of a pregnancy more than 20 weeks along. About 20% to 25% of women over the age of 35 get fibroids.

Signs &


Causes &

Risk Factors


to Ask


Some women with uterine fibroids do not have any symptoms. When symptoms occur, they vary due to the number, size, and locations of the fibroid(s). Symptoms include:

•  Abdominal swelling, especially if they are large.

•  Heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding between periods or after intercourse, or bleeding after menopause.

•  Backache, pain during sex, pain with periods, etc.

•  Anemia from excessive bleeding.

•  Pelvic pressure.

•  Passing urine often from pressure on the bladder.

•  Chronic constipation from pressure on the rectum.

•  Infertility. The fallopian tubes may be blocked or the uterus may be distorted.

•  Miscarriage. If the fibroid is inside the uterus, the placenta may not implant the way it should.


Fibroids are diagnosed with a medical history and a pelvic exam. Your doctor can also do other tests, such as an ultrasound and hysteroscopy to confirm their presence, location, and size.

Reasons a Woman is More Likely To Get Fibroids

•  She has not been pregnant.

•  She has a close relative who also had or has fibroids.

•  She is African American. The risk is three to five times higher than it is for Caucasian women.

The exact cause is not known, but fibroids need estrogen to grow. They may shrink or go away after menopause.

•  Take medications as advised.

•  Maintain a healthy body weight. Follow a diet low in fat. The more body fat you have, the more estrogen your body is likely to have. This promotes fibroid growth.

•  Do regular exercise. This may reduce your body’s fat and estrogen levels.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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