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What Are Uterine Fibroids And How Do You Know If You Have Them

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous uterine tumors that affect millions of women, causing life-altering symptoms. Learn more about the signs and diagnosis.

Updated April 19, 2021

By Melissa Yurkanin, DO, Obstetrician and Gynecologist—Virtua OB/GYN – Cherry Hill

Uterine fibroids affect millions of women. While most are benign, meaning they’re not cancerous, they cause heavy bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure, and bloating that can make you feel like you’re 5 months pregnant. Some women have to adjust their work, wardrobe, activities, and life around the pain and bleeding. 

If you’re reading this and thinking – that sounds like me – read on to learn more about signs of uterine fibroids and how to know if you have them

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous uterine tumors. These tumors can grow within the uterine walls, outside the uterus, or into the uterine cavity. Multiple fibroids can occur at once, and they may grow slowly, quickly, or even shrink.

Although fibroids can occur in women of any age, they usually develop around childbearing age and are more common among African-American women. While you’re more likely to develop fibroids if someone in your family has them, they’re not a genetic condition

What are the signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids?

You can have fibroids and not know it or feel any symptoms. However, some women experience severe symptoms, including:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Prolonged menstrual periods
  • Pelvic pressure or pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation or difficulty urinating
  • Back or leg pain

In some cases, fibroids can lead to complications like anemia from heavy bleeding or difficulty conceiving. If you have any of these symptoms, call your OB/GYN for an evaluation.

During a routine pelvic exam, your OB/GYN provider can often feel uterine fibroids or abnormalities in the shape of your uterus. Your provider may order an ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis and determine the size and location of the fibroids.  

If you’re diagnosed with uterine fibroids, there’s a range of treatment options, depending on your age, symptoms, and fertility goals. Our OB/GYNs work closely with you to help pinpoint the best treatment option for you.

Learn more