Where Do Fibroids Grow?
Uterine fibroids are given their name by the fact that they grow in or around the uterus. There are different types of fibroids and they are classified by their location to the uterus:
- Intramural fibroids: This fibroid inside the uterus grows within the uterine wall
- Submucosal fibroids: Another type of fibroid inside the uterus that grows from under the uterine lining to the uterine cavity
- Subserosal fibroids: Grow on the outside of the uterus
- Pedunculated fibroids: Attach to the wall of the uterus either inside or outside by a stalk, or peduncle
- Calcified fibroids: A type of fibroid that can be found anywhere in or on the uterus, and have developed calcium deposits on the fibrous tissue, causing it to harden.
Fibroids are delivered nutrients, oxygen, and blood through uterine arteries. At USA Fibroid Centers, we offer Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), a treatment that targets the uterine arteries to block blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink over time. UFE is an outpatient, non-surgical procedure with a short recovery time of about one to two weeks.
Are Fibroids Only Found in the Uterus?
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths found only in or on the uterus. However, having large or multiple fibroids can cause an enlarged uterus and may impact surrounding organs like the bladder and bowels. Many women with an enlarged uterus due to fibroids experience the symptom of a protruding stomach like during a pregnancy. When the bladder or bowels are affected, symptoms like frequent urination are common.
Why Do Fibroids Grow in the Uterus?
The exact cause of why fibroids form in the uterus is unknown. However, research has shown that several factors play a role in the development of fibroids.
- Genetics: The genes found in fibroids are different from those in other cells of the uterine muscle. Family history has an impact on fibroids as well with a woman who has a close family member diagnosed with fibroids being at an increased risk of developing them herself.
- Hormones: Estrogen and progesterone may stimulate the growth of fibroids. While more research is needed to understand the relationship between fibroids and hormones, fibroids have a tendency to grow faster when hormone levels are higher and shrink when they are lower, such as during pregnancy or after menopause.
- Age: Fibroids are most commonly detected during the years between puberty and menopause. However, we want you to know that post-menopausal women also commonly get fibroids.
- Extracellular matrix (ECM): An extensive molecule network that makes cells attach to one another and stores growth factors when cells are changing. Fibroids contain a higher amount of ECM than what is found in other cells.
- Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF): Another hormone found in the body and can stimulate the growth of cells, including those that become fibroids.
Treatment for Fibroids Growing in the Uterus
In the past, hysterectomy was the treatment most often performed for uterine fibroids, creating a common misconception that it is the only option available. However, recent data shows that women today are choosing minimally invasive procedures, like Uterine Fibroid Embolization. UFE has many benefits over hysterectomy, a surgery that removes the uterus and sometimes other organs, and the said benefits are primarily:
- No general anesthesia, stitches, or scarring
- No hospital stay required
- Shorter recovery period of 1-2 weeks (compared to up to 8 weeks for hysterectomy)
- Leaves the uterus intact, preserving fertility
- Surrounding organs are also left intact, reducing risk of complications
UFE is performed by an interventional radiologist (IR), a specialist who uses advanced imaging techniques to find the artery feeding the fibroid inside the uterus. Then, the IR uses an X-ray known as fluoroscopy to guide a tiny catheter into the artery and inject embolic agents into the artery, which block the supply of blood and cause the fibroid to shrink. The fibroids can continue to shrink for up to six months after the procedure, and most patients can experience immediate relief from painful symptoms.
Treat Fibroids in the Uterus with USA Fibroid Centers
At USA Fibroid Centers, our interventional radiologists have expertise performing UFE to treat fibroids and have helped countless women find freedom from their fibroid symptoms. We value our patients’ quality of life and provide personalized treatment recommendations so patients get the care they deserve. Schedule a consultation online or give us a call at 855.615.2555 to visit one of our centers close to you.
Reviewed by Dr. Aaron Shiloh, a board-certified interventional radiologist with expertise in performing Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). Dr. Shiloh was awarded a fellowship from the Society of Interventional Radiology, a prestigious distinction that only the top 10% of doctors in his field have earned.