Uterine Fibroids

Your uterus is lined with smooth muscle cells that support pregnancy and labor. Sometimes these cells can grow out of control, causing you to develop a mass on the wall of your uterus called a uterine fibroid.

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids, sometimes called leiomyomas, are growths (tumors) made up of the muscle and connective tissue from the wall of the uterus. These fibroids are almost always benign, meaning they're not cancerous. Uterine fibroids can be so small they can't be detected or can grow as large as a grapefruit (or larger). Doctors most often find fibroids during a normal physical exam when they press on the uterus.

Some women may never have symptoms of uterine fibroids. Others, however, may have severe uterine fibroid symptoms that impact their daily lives, including:

  • Long or heavy periods
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Pelvic or lower back pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain during sex

Causes of uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are very common and affect up to 77 percent of women at some point in their lives. In 99 percent of cases, uterine fibroids are benign, but they can be painful. While the exact cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, it’s commonly been linked to:

  • Hormone imbalance
  • Genetic and growth changes
  • Extracellular matrix (ECM)

People at increased risk for developing uterine fibroids include those who:

  • Are over 30 years old
  • Have been pregnant
  • Are Vitamin D deficient
  • Have a family history of uterine fibroids

Diagnosis and testing for uterine fibroids

There is a variety of diagnostic tools available to your care provider. When screening for possible uterine fibroids, you may undergo:

Treatments

Depending on the severity of your uterine fibroid symptoms, possible treatments include:

  • Laparoscopic/Robotic myomectomy breaks fibroids into smaller pieces and removes them from a small abdominal incision.
  • Hysteroscopic myomectomy is a procedure for fibroids located solely inside the uterus. Your surgeon removes them with instruments inserted through your vagina and cervix.
  • Hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus, should only be offered for women not interested in or who have completed childbearing.
  • Uterine artery embolization is a technique used to shrink fibroids and relieve painful symptoms. Your provider injects small particles called embolic agents into the uterine arteries, cutting off blood flow to fibroids, causing them to shrink and die.

Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery

Minimally invasive gynecologic surgery can be used to treat a broad spectrum of gynecological disorders with advanced precision.

Hysteroscopic Myomectomy

Main Line Health offers hysteroscopic myomectomy as an alternative to hysterectomy to treat uterine fibroids.

Laparoscopic Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy

LAVH is a minimally invasive method of performing a hysterectomy.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

For the patient, uterine fibroid embolization is a simple procedure that takes from one to two hours and is performed under local anesthesia with a light sedation.

Advanced Gynecology Program

For women with pelvic pain and benign gynecologic conditions, our advanced gynecology program can help you identify and treat complex gynecologic conditions.

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