A uterine fibroid is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor that grows in the uterine lining, inside, and/or outside the uterus. Uterine fibroids are most common in women ages 30 to 40, but can occur at any age.
A woman can have one fibroid tumor or several. Fibroids may increase in size and frequency with age, but may also shrink after menopause. Not all women with fibroids experience symptoms. When symptoms are present, they may include heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, frequent urination and difficulty becoming pregnant.
There are non-surgical treatments for fibroids such as watchful waiting, medication and hormone therapy.
Surgeries and procedures performed on women with fibroids include uterine artery embolization or UAE (uterine arteries are blocked to stop blood flow), endometrial ablation (uterine lining is destroyed with extreme heat or cold), hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and myomectomy (removal of fibroids while leaving the uterus in place). Treatment and surgical options are based on many factors, including the patient’s age, symptoms, overall health and whether she plans to have a child in the future. For more details on common approaches to surgery for uterine fibroids, see the “Surgical Options” section that follows.