Uterine Fibroids and Polyps

Fibroids and polyps are usually non-cancerous growths that form in or on the uterine wall. They are quite common, with nearly 80% of women developing one or more growths within their lifetime.1 The majority of growths will go unnoticed because they do not show signs or symptoms.  However, some become symptomatic and may lead to:

  • Excessive uterine bleeding
  • Painful and prolonged menstrual periods
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Difficulty with urination and constipation
  • Pressure in the pelvic area
  • Fullness or pressure in the belly
  • Lower back and leg pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult with your doctor.

 

What are Uterine Fibroids & Polyps?

Uterine fibroids & polyps are benign (non-cancerous) tumors of the uterus. Typically women who have uterine fibroids have more than one fibroid and they can range widely in size. Some are no bigger than a pea, while others can grow to the size of a melon or larger.

uterine fibroids & polyps size reference uterine fibroids & polyps size reference

When fibroids are diagnosed, the extent of the disease is determined by comparing the size of the uterus to a typical size during pregnancy. For example, a large fibroid or multiple fibroids may enlarge the uterus to the same size as a six- or seven- month pregnancy.

 

What causes fibroids?

The exact reason why uterine fibroids develop is unknown. However, medical researchers have associated the condition with two factors – genetics and hormones.

Genetics

African American women are at higher risk for uterine fibroids. Fibroids occur in as many as 50% of African American women – a rate that is about twice that of other racial groups.

Hormones

Uterine fibroids can dramatically increase in size during pregnancy. It is thought that this effect is due to the increase in the amount of estrogen – the female hormone – that naturally occurs during pregnancy. After delivery, the fibroids usually shrink to the size they were before pregnancy.

During menopause, estrogen levels dramatically decrease. This causes uterine fibroids to shrink, relieving symptoms. However, if a woman takes hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause, estrogen levels may not decrease, the fibroids may not shrink and the symptoms may remain.

 

What is the prevalence of fibroids?

  • Fibroids affect approximately 25 million women in the United States.
  • About 6 million women in the U.S. are symptomatic enough to see a doctor
  • 20% to 40% of women aged 35+ have uterine fibroids of significant size
  • African American women are 3-5x more likely to have fibroids than white, Asian or Hispanic women