Uterine fibroids are the most common tumours of the female genital tract. You might hear them referred to as “fibroids” or by several other names, including leiomyoma, myoma or fibromyoma. Fibroids are non-cancerous (benign) growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. Fibroids do not always cause symptoms. Nevertheless their size and location can lead to problems for some women, including heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, and pressure symptoms (bloating, swelling, urinary frequency). Fibroids may also be associated with infertility.
Uterine fibroids are very common, although often they are very small and cause no problems. From 20-40% of women aged 35 and over have uterine fibroids of a significant size. African-American women are at a higher risk: as many as 50% have fibroids of a significant size.
Fibroids range greatly in size, from very tiny to the size of a cantaloupe melon or larger. In some cases, they can cause the uterus to grow to the size of a five-month pregnancy or more. Fibroids may be located in various parts of the uterus. In most cases, there is more than one fibroid in the uterus. There are three primary types of uterine fibroids.