Subserosal Fibroids: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
A subserosal fibroid is the most common type of uterine fibroid. Also known as a subserosal leiomyoma or a subserosal myoma, this type of fibroid develops on the outside of the uterus under the serosa, which is the smooth outer layer. It’s a benign tumor that can grow on the uterine tissue directly or it can be attached by a thin stalk. Because of its location outside of the uterus, a subserosal fibroid can push against the pelvis and nearby organs.
These fibroids can be large or small, and it’s possible to have just one or several. The location on the outside of the uterus, size, and number will impact your symptoms and recommended treatment.
Subserosal Fibroid Symptoms
Because subserosal fibroids grow outside the uterus, they don’t usually cause heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods, symptoms usually associated with other types of fibroids. In general, subserosal fibroids tend to have less impact on the function of the uterus and more impact on neighboring organs, such as the bladder or bowel.
Common symptoms of subserosal uterine fibroids include the following:
- A feeling of heaviness or fullness
- Pelvic pain
- Lower back pain
- Back of leg pain (sciatica)
- Frequent need to urinate
- Constipation or bloating
- Abdominal pain
- Painful sex
Depending on whether subserosal fibroids are on the front or back of the uterus, or both, you might notice some or all of these symptoms.
An anterior subserosal fibroid is located on the front of the uterus. This type of subserosal growth is associated with frequent urination because, if it’s large enough, it can put pressure on the bladder.
A posterior subserosal fibroid grows on the back of the uterus and may press on the bowel or sciatic nerve. It can cause constipation and lower back pain or leg pain.
What Causes Subserosal Uterine Fibroids?
Doctors don’t know what causes fibroids. Scientists believe there is a link between genetics, hormones, and the development of uterine fibroids, including subserosal fibroids.
It’s known that increased estrogen can cause fibroids to grow larger, leading to more symptoms. African-American women are at an increased risk of developing fibroids. Age also plays a role, with most women developing these growths between puberty and menopause.
Risk Factors for Women
While women during their childbearing years have a 70 percent chance of developing fibroids, the risk for African-American women is even higher, at 80 percent.
In addition, women who have never had children or who started puberty at an early age (before the age of 12) also have a higher risk of being diagnosed with fibroids.
Subserosal Fibroids During Pregnancy
Subserosal fibroids are outside the uterus and have less impact on your ability to get pregnant than other types of fibroids. However, they can cause issues with the pregnancy if they continue to grow in size.
Because your hormone levels increase during pregnancy, larger fibroids may also develop. This issue can lead to complications such as lower birth weight and the need for cesarean delivery.
Learn more about how fibroids can affect pregnancy.
How Are Subserosal Uterine Fibroids Diagnosed?
Subserosal fibroids can be diagnosed using medical imaging tests, such as an ultrasound. This type of testing reveals where your fibroids are located and the type of fibroid, as well as the size.
If you think you have subserosal fibroids, book a consultation with a specialist at USA Fibroid Centers. Our doctors are experts in diagnosing and treating all types of uterine fibroids, including subserosal growths. They can diagnose your symptoms in our office and, if you need treatment, we offer uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a minimally invasive treatment that can help you get relief from your symptoms.
Schedule a consultation with one of our fibroid specialists. We have more than 40 locations nationwide.
Other Types of Fibroid
Subserosal fibroids are just one type of fibroid that may cause symptoms. During an exam, your fibroid doctor may find other types of fibroids as well.
- Intramural fibroids grow inside the uterine wall.
- Submucosal fibroids grow in the lining of the uterus.
- Pedunculated fibroids are attached to the uterus by a stalk or peduncle.
- Calcified fibroids outgrow the blood supply and then start to calcify.
Subserosal fibroids, submucosal fibroids, and pedunculated fibroids are all types of exophytic uterine growths. An exophytic fibroid extends beyond the surface of the uterus. Intramural fibroids embed themselves in the uterine cavity, so they aren’t exophytic. Calcified fibroids aren’t location-specific, so they can grow inside or outside the uterus.
Subserosal Fibroid Treatment
If you have subserosal fibroids on your uterus that are large enough to cause symptoms, your doctor will likely recommend treatment.
The most common treatments for subserosal fibroids are a hysterectomy, myomectomy, and UFE.
- Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus.
- Myomectomy involves removing the fibroids surgically.
- UFE is a minimally invasive procedure that works by stopping fibroids’ blood supply.
At USA Fibroid Centers, our physicians specialize in treating fibroids with UFE.
UFE is an outpatient procedure, so you can receive your treatment in our clinic. You can also go home the same day and will be able to return to your normal activities in one to two weeks.
Our fibroid specialists focus on UFE for treating fibroids so we can offer the best care for women who prefer an alternative to surgery for fibroids.
Get Relief from Subserosal Fibroid Symptoms at USA Fibroid Centers
Living with symptoms of subserosal fibroids can be difficult, but there is hope. At USA Fibroid Centers, we know what a huge difference non-surgical fibroid treatment can make in our patients’ lives, and we’re dedicated to helping women find relief.
Schedule a consultation to see one of our specialists today. You can schedule an appointment at one of our clinics or set up a telemedicine consultation. Call 855.615.2555 or book online.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are subserosal fibroids cancerous?
Subserosal fibroids are like other uterine fibroids in one aspect — they are almost always benign. They don’t increase the risk of developing uterine cancer and rarely turn into cancer.
Is a subserosal fibroid dangerous?
Subserosal fibroids aren’t dangerous, but they can cause severe discomfort and impact nearby organs, such as the bladder and bowels. This type of fibroid can lead to abdominal cramping, pain in the lower back and legs, and pain during sex.
As they press on other organs, they can also lead to constipation and frequent urination. In addition, subserosal fibroids can cause severe pain if they are pedunculated (growing on a stalk) and the stalk becomes twisted.
Can subserosal fibroids affect pregnancy?
Studies indicate that subserosal fibroids don’t have as much impact on your ability to get pregnant as other types of fibroids unless they grow larger. If they increase in size during pregnancy, they can limit the amount of space the baby has to grow and cause difficulty with natural childbirth.
How do you treat subserosal fibroids?
Our physicians treat subserosal fibroids the uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), also known as uterine artery embolization (UAE).
UFE is recognized as a safe and effective treatment by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and an excellent option for women looking for relief without surgery.
What does it mean when a fibroid is subserosal?
A subserosal fibroid is located beneath the soft outer lining of the uterus, which is called the serosa. Unlike other types of fibroids, subserosal growths are always outside of the uterine cavity, so they’re more likely to impact other organs rather than cause symptoms that relate to your menstrual cycle, such as heavy bleeding and severe cramping.
They can, however, be painful. They can also cause bloating, constipation, frequent urination, and pain during sex.
Do subserosal fibroids need to be removed?
If subserosal uterine fibroids are causing symptoms that impact your quality of life, they should be removed. Your fibroid doctor will discuss your symptoms with you and help you determine if treatment is necessary.
How serious is a subserosal fibroid?
A subserosal fibroid is a common women’s health issue, and it’s not usually very serious. In most cases, subserosal fibroids are noncancerous. And, while larger fibroids can cause painful symptoms that impact your day-to-day life, they are not life-threatening. They’re also very treatable.
How do you treat subserosal fibroids without surgery?
We use UFE as a non-surgical treatment for subserosial fibroids.
There’s no need for a hospital stay or stitches. Your doctor simply makes a tiny incision in your thigh to inject microparticles into your uterine artery, which causes the fibroids to shrink. After UFE, you’ll leave our clinic with nothing more than a band-aide.