For some women, uterine fibroids can cause mild or moderate discomfort and for others, there will be no outward signs or symptoms at all. In women that do present with uterine fibroids, the following are common symptoms:
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Pelvic pain or pressure which can be mild or moderate
- Prolonged menstrual cycles lasting a week or longer
- Backache or leg pain
Rarely do uterine fibroids cause severe pain but it can and when it does it is most likely related to fibroid death due to lack of nutrients and blood supply.
A woman should seek medical attention if any of the following symptoms occur:
- Spotting or bleeding in between menstrual periods
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Overly heavy and painful periods
- Difficulty passing stool
- Difficulty urinating
- Severe vaginal bleeding
- Sharp pain in the pelvic region
- High fever
Uterine fibroids develop from smooth muscle tissue of the uterus and can range in size from a small seed and grow larger than 15 centimeters. Fibroids can be so large that the uterus size and shape can become distorted and expand the uterus so much it will reach up into the rib cage. While physicians do not know the precise cause of uterine fibroids, research points to several of the following factors:
- Genetic alterations
- Hormones: estrogen and progesterone can promote the growth of fibroids.
- Race: African-American women are more likely to develop hormones than women of other racial ethnicity.
- Obesity: some research studies are being conducted to determine a link, if any.
- Oral contraceptives: strong data exists to show a link between women that take birth control pills or hormone therapy, have a stronger chance of developing uterine fibroids.
Uterine fibroid symptoms and causes is a topic which requires further research in order to understand more completely. If a woman has uterine fibroids, the condition needs to be treated and managed under the supervision of a skilled medical professional. Following the advice and instructions of a medical doctor allows a woman to live with uterine fibroids and not experience any adverse effects and can protect her health and fertility.