Are all fibroid tumors the same?

All fibroids, (also called myomas or leiomyomas) are non-cancerous growths of muscular tissues that develop in and on a woman’s uterus. Yet not all fibroids will develop in the same location, and not all of these tumors will cause the same symptoms. That’s why we tend to classify fibroids based on where they develop within a woman’s uterus. 

The Three Types of Fibroids

There are three different fibroid classifications.  Intramural fibroids grow almost entirely within the wall of the uterus.  Submucosal tumors grow from the uterine wall and push into the cavity of the uterus. Subserosal fibroids grow out of the uterine lining, poking through the uterine wall. Depending on the type or location of your uterine fibroids, you may experience different symptoms than a woman with a tumor in a different location. But, for all women with fibroids, symptoms tend to fall in three main categories: 

  • Pain
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Pressure

Fibroid Symptoms Based on Location

Bleeding
For all women, fibroids can cause long, heavy periods and/or bleeding even when it’s not that time of the month. All  fibroids affect blood flow to the uterus in some way, which is why your period typically gets heavier when you have fibroids. Women with submucosal fibroids typically experience the heaviest periods, because they push your uterine lining into the cavity, greatly expanding its reach. Heavy bleeding is a symptom that should be addressed right away with your doctor, since, over time, it can make women anemic. 

Pain 
Mild discomfort or cramping is often a normal part of your menstrual cycle: the cramps are caused by slight changes to your uterus as you shed its lining. When you have fibroids, the changes to the uterus are more significant, which is why your cramps are likely to be stronger and more painful with these tumors. Women with intramural or subserosal fibroids may also experience lower back pain, as their enlarged uterus pushes against the muscles of the back. And women with fibroid tumors located near the cervical opening may experience pain during sex, although certain positions will be more comfortable than others. 

Pressure
Women with fibroids often experience pressure or heaviness in the pelvis because the tumors increase the size of their uterus. Women with subserosal fibroids may become constipated or feel the need to urinate frequently, as their uterine lining expands and places pressure on either the bladder or the rectum. 

Regardless of where your fibroids are located, and no matter which symptoms you find most bothersome, relief is available, often without surgery. Contact our Houston area fibroid specialists to learn if you are a candidate for our minimally-invasive fibroid treatment