Different Types of Fibroids

If you have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, you may be interested to learn that there are several different types. Fibroids are generally classified by location and can vary in size and number. Although not everyone experiences fibroid symptoms, the location, size, and number of fibroids involved tend to impact their severity. It can be helpful to understand the types of fibroids and how they can impact your life.

For expert care, we recommend consulting a fibroid specialist. At USA Fibroid Centers, our doctors specialize in using medical imaging tools like ultrasounds and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) to accurately diagnose your fibroids. If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids, we perform a non-surgical treatment, Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), that allows you to get back to your normal routine sooner and can alleviate symptoms.

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How Many Types of Fibroids Are There?

1. Intramural Fibroids

An intramural fibroid grows within the muscular walls of the uterus. If you have small intramural fibroids, you may experience only mild symptoms. As the fibroids grow larger, you may develop more severe symptoms that can eventually impact your quality of life.

Common symptoms of intramural fibroids include:

  • Heavy periods that last 10 days or more
  • Irregular bleeding between periods
  • Pelvic or lower back pain

2. Subserosal Fibroids

A subserosal fibroid grows outside the uterus, bulging into the pelvic or abdominal cavity. It can be attached to the uterus directly or via a thin stalk called a peduncle. As with other fibroid types, subserosal fibroids can vary in size and number.

Subserosal fibroid symptoms tend to be somewhat different from those of intramural fibroids. For instance, women often experience fewer issues with their uterus and more symptoms involving neighboring organs like the bladder, rectum, or intestines.

Common symptoms of subserosal fibroids include:

  • A feeling of heaviness or fullness within the pelvic region
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation or bloating
  • Abdominal pain and cramping

Depending on their size and location, subserosal fibroids can sometimes lead to an expanded uterus. Consequently, this may cause your abdominal region to extend and mimic the look of the pregnant body. If you have taken a pregnancy test and it has come back negative or inconclusive, consult your doctor to see if you could have uterine fibroids.

3. Submucosal Fibroids

A submucosal fibroid develops within the innermost lining of the uterus or endometrium. Submucosal fibroids can develop individually or in clusters and vary in size. This type of fibroid is most likely to cause heavy menstrual bleeding.

Common symptoms of submucosal fibroids include:

  • Heavy or prolonged menstruation 
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Anemia, fatigue, or dizziness
  • Pelvic or lower back pain
  • Passing frequent or large blood clots (bigger than a quarter)

4. Pedunculated Fibroids

A pedunculated fibroid is a type of fibroid that is attached to the uterine wall by a stalk, or peduncle. Based on location, there are two subtypes : 

  • Pedunculated subserosal fibroids: Develop outside the uterus
  • Pedunculated submucosal fibroids: Develop inside the uterus

Pedunculated fibroids may cause sharp stabbing pains when the fibroid rotates on the peduncle, interfering with the blood flow to the fibroid.

5. Calcified Fibroids

A calcified uterine fibroid has outgrown its blood supply. When this occurs, you may experience a painful process called fibroid degeneration, during which a portion of the fibroid dies. Calcium deposits can then develop on top of the remaining fibroid tissue causing it to become hardened. 

Although calcification usually occurs after menopause, it can also happen during the reproductive years of a woman’s life. Calcified fibroids can sometimes result in new or increased symptoms, including:

  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Severe abdominal pain or pressure

What Are The Differences Between All The Types of Fibroids?

Even with this information, understanding how the types of uterine fibroids relate to your symptoms can be confusing and stressful. The best way to know what type your fibroids are is to get a pelvic exam, ultrasound, or MRI from a fibroid specialist. 

We want our patients to be informed so they can make the best decisions for their health. Use this chart to guide your understanding of fibroids and types of fibroid symptoms.

Fibroid Sizes

Fibroids can be placed in three categories by size. Here are the different categories:

  • Small: Up to 20 mm or 5 cm and no larger than the size of a cherry
  • Medium: Between 20 and 60 mm or between a plum and orange
  • Large: More than 60 mm or between the size of a grapefruit or watermelon

How Are Fibroids Diagnosed?

Many types of fibroids can be diagnosed through a routine pelvic exam. The doctor may recommend an ultrasound to verify the diagnosis. It can also show where the fibroids are located and their size.

You may also suspect that you have fibroids based on symptoms. While not all fibroids cause symptoms, some will cause discomfort and other problems, especially as they grow larger. Some of the symptoms of fibroids include:

  • Heavy bleeding during your period
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Frequent urination
  • Pelvic pain
  • Lower back pain

If you experience these symptoms, you should seek treatment to find out if fibroids are the cause.

Other Health Conditions

Fibroid symptoms can be similar to other health conditions, making it more difficult to get an accurate diagnosis without testing. Women may suffer from some of these conditions along with fibroids.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one health condition that impacts the reproductive system. It can lead to irregular periods and developing cysts on the ovaries. The two conditions can have the same symptoms, but they need to be treated separately.

Ovarian cysts can occur along with fibroids and cause pressure in the pelvic area, bloating, and fullness or pressure. Endometriosis can lead to heavy bleeding and severe cramping. It occurs when the uterine tissue grows on the outside of the uterus.

To get an accurate diagnosis, you need to contact your doctor. They will recommend the right treatment for your condition and may refer you to a fibroid specialist if you have uterine fibroids.

Who’s At Risk for Uterine Fibroids?

Women between puberty and menopause are at the greatest risk for developing fibroids. Within this group, black women are at higher risk than others. If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with fibroids, you’re more likely to develop them. Along with these risk factors that you can’t change, being overweight can also increase your risk.

Uterine Fibroid Treatment Options

Uterine fibroids can severely impact your quality of life with symptoms like heavy bleeding and frequent urination, making it hard to manage daily routines and impact your social life or relationships. Fortunately, non-surgical treatment can alleviate painful symptoms and quickly get you back to living your life. 

Many people believe that surgery, either a myomectomy or a hysterectomy, is the only treatment for fibroids. A hysterectomy removes the uterus, causing infertility. A myomectomy removes the growths, but at the risk of fibroids returning, which could lead to a hysterectomy. It’s important to note that both procedures require an extended recovery period and can have serious or long-term side effects. 

Myomectomy

This surgical procedure removes the fibroids through an incision. However, this option can cause infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. A myomectomy leaves scar tissue, and, in some cases, scar tissue can cause infertility. You will need stitches, a hospital stay of 1-4 days, and a recovery period of up to 6 weeks. 

Hysterectomy

This surgery removes the uterus along with the fibroids, permanently ending menstruation and the ability to have children. Sometimes, other organs are also removed. Because you won’t get your period anymore, your body will go into menopause and you may have to take hormone-replacement therapy. Additionally, a hysterectomy requires a hospital stay of about 2-3 days and a recovery period of up to eight weeks. 

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)

A non-surgical treatment that involves inserting a catheter to deliver embolic agents to the artery feeding the fibroids, causing them to shrink and eventually die. It is an outpatient procedure for all types of uterine fibroids, which means you can go home the same day without scars or stitches. There are many benefits to UFE, including a short recovery time of about one week and preservation of fertility. Many patients also experience less pain and lighter periods after having a UFE.

UFE Benefits All Types Of Fibroids

UFE offers many benefits to you as a treatment for fibroids. Since it’s an outpatient procedure, you don’t have to worry about the cost of a lengthy hospital stay. This procedure is done with local anesthesia instead of general anesthesia, which helps reduce the time you spend in the clinic before going home.

You will be able to resume normal activities within one to two weeks after UFE. With a hysterectomy, recovery can take up to eight weeks. You will miss less work with UFE and have a lower risk of complications.

One of the primary benefits of UFE is that you retain your uterus and the potential to conceive and carry a child. Because a hysterectomy results in removing the uterus, you will become infertile.

When you know the facts, it’s easy to see why more women choose UFE for their uterine fibroids.

Schedule a Fibroid Treatment Consultation

At USA Fibroid Centers, our doctors specialize in performing  Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UFE can help alleviate symptoms from different types of uterine fibroids without requiring you to put your life on hold for a long recovery period. To discover if UFE is right for you, schedule a consultation at one of our convenient locations or give us a call at 855.615.2555.

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Life with fibroids can be painful and challenging. Timely detection and treatment of fibroids can relieve symptoms, as well as reduce your risk for hysterectomy.

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