Uterine fibroids are benign tumors embedded in the wall of the uterus. They afflict approximately 25 percent of women. Medical experts do not know what causes fibroids, but it is believed that genetics may play a role.
Several factors make it more likely a woman will develop fibroids. Most women develop fibroids between age 18 and 45, but Black women may develop the problem at an earlier age. The tumors generally shrink after menopause.
Women who have not carried a pregnancy past 20 weeks, or who have never been pregnant at all, have a higher risk of fibroids. A family history of fibroid tumors increase a woman’s risk, and if her mother had fibroids, her risk is elevated by 300 percent.
Black women are at greater risk than women of other ethnic groups. Overweight women have an elevated risk, and in women who are very obese, the risk is 200 to 300 percent higher. Of course, not all women at increased risk will actually develop the condition.
Here are ten signs of uterine fibroids:
1. Heavy Vaginal Bleeding
Heavy bleeding during menstruation or even between cycles can be a sign of fibroids. In some cases, bleeding can be heavy enough to cause anemia.
Fibroids are the primary cause of infertility, because they can obstruct the Fallopian tubes and prevent a fertilized egg from moving through the tube into the uterus to become implanted.
3. Recurring Miscarriages
When fibroids block space in the cavity of the uterus, a fetus may be unable to develop, resulting in miscarriage.
4. Swelling from a Mass in the Lower Abdomen
Fibroid tumors can grow big enough they may be palpable through the skin of the lower abdomen.
5. Painful Urination
If a fibroid exerts pressure on the bladder, urination can be painful and more frequent.
Fibroid tumors can press against the rectum, making it difficult to have normal bowel movements.
7. Lower Back Pain
Fibroids frequently press against nerves and muscles in the back area. The pain may begin as a dull ache then increase as the fibroids grow in size.
8. Leg Swelling
Less frequently, fibroids can cause swelling in the legs when the flow of lymphatic fluid is impeded.
9. Varicose Veins
Large fibroid tumors can press against pelvic veins, causing varicose veins to form in the legs.
10. Pain During Intercourse
Large fibroids in the uterus can cause intercourse to be painful.
Fibroid tumors, while they are not malignant, are uncomfortable. As they grow, they can create increased health problems. If you exhibit one or more of these signs, check with your physician to see if you have fibroids.