If you’re a woman and you’re reading this, chances are you have fibroids or know someone who does. In fact, between 20 and 80 percent of women will get uterine fibroids before the age of 50. This will usually happen during a woman’s childbearing years. But, the good news is that fibroids are almost always non-cancerous and can be treated. There are four main types of uterine fibroids. Size and location of a fibroid determine what type of fibroid it is.
The first type of fibroid we’re discussing is the submucosal fibroid. It’s the rarest of the four. These fibroids grow in the submucosa. This means they grow below the thin layer of tissue found in the uterus. These fibroids may also protrude into the uterine cavity. Large submucosal fibroids can increase the size of a woman’s uterine cavity.
These larger fibroids may also block the fallopian tubes. Blocked fallopian tubes can cause fertility complications because sperm has no way to travel to the uterus. Common symptoms are excessive menstrual bleeding and prolonged menstruation. Bleeding may be so excessive women may pass blood clots and/or frequent soiling. If left untreated they could cause more complications. These complications include anemia and fatigue which may lead to possible blood transfusions.
Doctors can sometimes feel the presence of submucosal fibroid tumors during a routine pelvic exam. If the growths are causing the shape of the uterus to feel irregular, they’ll run additional tests. An ultrasound can confirm the tumors. A traditional ultrasound transabdominal or transvaginal is used and will show the image of a woman’s uterus, diagnose the condition and map and measure the size and location of the fibroids.
Intramural fibroids are the most common of the four types yet there are different variations of them. Mural means wall and these tumors grow in the uterus and are contained within the wall of the uterus. The variations of intramural fibroids are:
- Fibroids in the front of the uterus are anterior intramural fibroids
- Fibroids located in the back of the uterus are posterior intramural fibroids.
- Fibroids located in the upper part of the uterus are fundal intramural fibroids.
Symptoms of intramural fibroids are similar to other types. Some women may
experience no symptoms while others will get heavier and longer periods, pelvic pain, lower back pain or bleeding in between periods. Most intramural fibroids don’t cause symptoms until they reach a significant size. These fibroids have limited space to grow. Once the growth causes them to bulge into the uterine cavity they become known as submucous. Once they bulge into the abdominal cavity they are known as subserous.
Subserous fibroids grow on the outside of the uterine wall. These type of fibroids don’t have as much of an effect on your menstrual period as it causes more back pain and bladder pressure. Subserous fibroids may even grow or connect to the stalk of the uterine wall. If it grows on the stalk, it becomes a pedunculated fibroid. If it twists on the uterine wall, it can become painful and usually is removed by laparoscopy. Subserous fibroids do not usually interfere with a woman’s ability to get pregnant. However, if they grow large enough to become pedunculated, they can cause fertility issues. This is because the fibroids now distort the anatomy of the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Pedunculated fibroids grow on the stalks and stem attached to the uterine wall. They also grow on the outside of the uterus or inside the uterine cavity. These fibroids can be quite painful, especially if they twist. The larger the fibroid is the more likely it is to twist.
Pedunculated fibroids can become submucosal or subserosal. If they grow both inside and outside the uterus it is a pedunculated submucosal fibroid. If they grow on the outside then they become pedunculated subserosal fibroids. Most women who have pedunculated fibroids don’t experience symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they’re usually mild. But there can be severe discomfort for some, depending on the size of the fibroid. Common symptoms are similar to other fibroid symptoms. They include:
- Intense pain, like cramping during menstruation
- Longer and heavier periods
- Abdominal pain
Although up to 80 percent of women may get fibroids by the age of 50, only about one-third of the fibroids are large enough to be discovered during a doctor’s exam. In more than 99 percent of cases, the fibroids are non-cancerous. However, if you have symptoms related to fibroids you should
visit your doctor for an exam. Treatment options will be recommended if you are diagnosed with any type of fibroid. Some treatment options include surgery, medications or even natural remedies. Fibroids are slow-growing so you will have time to learn all your options, do your own research and determine what is the best method for you to proceed.