Merck Manual

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Quick Facts



The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jun 2021| Content last modified Jun 2021
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What is a fibroid?

A fibroid is a tumor in a woman's uterus (womb). The uterus is the organ where babies grow before they are born. Fibroids aren't cancer, but they can be painful and cause bleeding and other symptoms.

What causes fibroids?

Doctors don’t know what causes fibroids.

High levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone make fibroids grow. Fibroids tend to get bigger when these hormone levels rise during pregnancy. They tend to shrink when these hormone levels go down during menopause Menopause Menopause is when women stop having periods (stop menstruating) and can no longer get pregnant. Menopause usually happens after age 40. In the United States, the average age for menopause is... read more .

What are the symptoms of fibroids?

Many fibroids don’t cause any symptoms. Your symptoms may depend on:

  • The number of fibroids you have

  • Where they are in your uterus

  • The size (bigger fibroids are more likely to cause symptoms)

Symptoms of fibroids can include:

Fibroids can also cause problems with pregnancy such as:

Fibroids can grow so big they can’t get enough blood. This makes them shrink and causes you pain.

How can doctors tell if I have fibroids?

Doctors will do a pelvic exam and may suggest other tests. During a pelvic exam, your doctor presses on your belly to feel the size and shape of your uterus and ovaries. They also use tools to look inside your vagina and cervix (lower part of your uterus) to check for any problems.

To know for sure if you have fibroids, doctors may do other tests including:

In a biopsy, the doctor removes a small amount of tissue from the lining of your uterus. The tissue is examined under a microscope to be sure you don't have a more serious problem, like uterine cancer.

How do doctors treat fibroids?

You won’t need treatment unless your symptoms bother you or are preventing you from getting pregnant. If your fibroids get large or start causing severe symptoms, treatment can include:

  • Medicines to shrink the fibroids and lessen bleeding

  • Sometimes, surgery to remove your fibroids or your uterus

  • Sometimes, procedures to destroy your fibroids and ease your symptoms

Procedures that can destroy fibroids include freezing them or using heat. Ultrasound or MRI may be used during the procedure to help your doctor see the fibroids.

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