How to Know If I Have Fibroids

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Fibroids are often found in the wall of the uterus.
Fibroids are often found in the wall of the uterus. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Fibroids are noncancerous growths of tissue most commonly found in the wall of the uterus. Developed fibroids shrink after menopause; this is thought to be related to the reduction of estrogen levels. Fibroids generally do not develop after menopause or before the onset of puberty; this is also thought to be due to the lack of and/or reduction of estrogen levels. Common names for fibroids include uterine fibroids, leiomyoma, myoma, or fibromyoma. Fibroids vary widely in size.

Check to see if you are likely to have fibroids. Fibroids occur in approximately 20% of women between the ages of 30 and 50. Fibroids are more likely to occur in obese and overweight women than women with normal weight. A woman can have anywhere from one to a hundred fibroids in her uterus, which are round or oval in shape. African-American women are two to three time more likely to develop fibroids and have more associated symptoms, then white women.

Ask the doctor what type of fibroids you might have. Fibroids are named according to which part of the uterus they are associated with. The different types of fibroids include intramural or mymetrial fibroids, submucous or submucosal fibroids, subserous or subserosal fibroids, and pedunculated fibroids. Most of them are found anywhere from inside the muscular wall of the uterus to the abdominal cavity of the uterus. Only pedunculated fibroids are found outside the uterus; attached to the uterus by a base or a stalk.

Take note if you are having any symptoms of fibroids, but if you are not sure ask your doctor for a diagnosis. Symptoms include prolonged menstrual periods lasting up to 7 days or longer, heavy bleeding during the menstrual cycles, and an overall increase in pressure causing pain in the lower belly or pelvis, constipation, bloating and fullness in the belly or pelvis leading to frequent urination and also a reduced appetite. In rare cases, fibroids can also interfere with pregnancies, blocking an embryo from implanting there. Some women with fibroids show no symptoms.

Check if you have a family history of fibroids. While heredity may be a predictor of fibroids, other factors which affect the chances for developing fibroids include early menstruation. Pregnancy and taking birth control bills both decrease the chances of developing fibroids.

Ask the doctor to perform one of the many tests available to check if you have fibroids. Doctors use various different imaging tests, such as an X-ray or an MRI, to confirm the presence of fibroids. If the fibroids are of medium to large size, they can be felt by doctors during a manual pelvic exam.

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