|What Are They?
Uterine leiomyoma (fibroids) are benign,
smooth muscle tumors arising from the myometrium
of the uterus. These tumors may be single
or multiple, and can be asymptomatic in
the early stages. They commonly arise in
the third or fourth decade of life and occur
in more than 20% women during their reproductive
age. These tumors (fibroids) are the most
common solid pelvic tumor in women. African-American
women are 2-3 times more likely to develop
fibroids than any other ethnic group. They
tend to develop fibroids at a younger age
and the fibroids are more numerous. As a
result African-American women with fibroids
have over twice the number of hysterectomies.
There are four different types of fibroids.
- Subserosal -located
beneath the outer surface of the uterus.
These fibroids are responsible for giving
the uterus an irregular shape.
- Intramural - this type
is located in the muscle wall and are
the hardest to detect.
- Submucosal - which
lies directly under the inside lining
of the uterus, called mucosa. These fibroids
are the cause of heavy bleeding and anemia.
The most common symptoms associated with
- Pedunculated - these
fibroids grow on a stalk and extend to
the outside of the uterus.
There are questions as to whether fibroids
are genetical or environmental in nature.
Little is known about the causes of fibroids
or what may trigger their growth. Studies
currently being done indicate that fibroid
tissue has estrogen and progesterone receptor
sites. It is known that in the presence
of increased estrogen, fibroids are stimulated
to increase in size. And in the presence
of low estrogen levels, fibroids decrease
in size. It is also suggested that there
are estrogen-like substances in our environment
that once introduced into the human body
can have an estrogen like affect on fibroid
growth and development.