What are Fibroids?

Fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in or around the uterus. They are made of muscle and fibrous tissue and can vary in size. Fibroids are very common and many may be unaware they have fibroids if they don’t experience symptoms. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the different types of fibroids, symptoms of fibroids, and potential treatments, plus the benefits of tracking changes throughout your cycle. Read on to find out more…

illustration of colored circles representing fibroids

Types of fibroids

Fibroids can grow anywhere in the uterus. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of fibroids:

  • The most common type of fibroids develop in the wall of the uterus. These are known as intramural fibroids
  • Fibroids that form outside the uterine wall and into the pelvic area are called subserosal fibroids
  • Developing into the muscle layer under the uterine lining submucosal fibroids can grow into the uterine cavity.
  • Sometimes subserosal or submucosal fibroids can be attached to the uterus with a thin stalk of tissue. These are called pedunculated fibroids

Fibroids size

Fibroids can grow as a single round ball or they may grow in clusters. The size of fibroids varies a lot, with some fibroids being as small as a peanut, while others may grow as large as a mango.

Symptoms of fibroids

It’s common to have fibroids and not experience any symptoms. However, some may experience:

  • Heavy or painful periods 
  • Pain in the lower back or abdomen 
  • Frequently needing to pee 
  • Constipation 
  • Pain during sex 

Fibroids vs endometriosis

Endometriosis is another common condition, involving excess tissue growth. It shares some similarities with fibroids. However, endometriosis is different to fibroids in a few key ways, including its symptoms and treatments. 

Unlike fibroids, most endometriosis tissue grows outside the uterus. This can make endometriosis potentially more invasive to investigate than fibroids. Read up on the different symptoms of endometriosis to find out more. To get a diagnosis and treatment for fibroids or endometriosis, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional if you are affected by either of these conditions. 

Causes of fibroids

The direct cause of fibroids is unknown although they have been linked to the hormone estrogen (the main female sex hormone). Most fibroids grow during our fertile years, they tend to shrink at menopause when we no longer get our periods.

Fibroids are very common with many of us developing them at some point over our lifetime. There are some factors that seem to make some of us more likely to get fibroids, these include:

  • If you are aged 30 to 50 
  • If you are of African-Caribbean heritage
  • If you’re overweight or obese 
  • If you don’t have kids (the risk of fibroids decreases the more children you have)

Fibroid complications

Fibroids are very common and, in most cases, they do not cause any complications. However, there are some complications that can occur in some rare cases. If you are concerned about complications, talk to your healthcare professional for guidance. 

Fertility problems 

There are a couple of ways in which fibroids can make it difficult to get pregnant. Large fibroids can reduce the likelihood of implantation of a fertilized egg cell, while submucosal fibroids can in some cases block a fallopian tube making it harder to conceive. 

Fibroids and pregnancy

Fibroids during pregnancy can cause abdominal pain and, in some cases, there’s a risk of early labor. A Caesarian section may be recommended depending on the type of fibroid present. In some rare cases, fibroids can also lead to miscarriage

Living with fibroids

Complications linked to fibroids are rare, and in the cases of those without symptoms there should be no difficulties in living with fibroids in the day-to-day, and no reason to undergo treatment. Left alone, fibroids should naturally shrink over time.

Those who do experience symptoms or are in the rare group to get complications from fibroids may need to think about treatment options or adjust their lifestyle to help manage the symptoms of fibroids.

Treatment for fibroids

Consult your healthcare professional for your full treatment options. The first treatment that’s likely to be recommended is medication to treat the symptoms of fibroids. If additional treatment is needed there are surgical and less invasive procedures to help shrink fibroids. 

You may also find it useful to keep a track of your menstrual cycle to monitor the heaviness of your period, and any pain you may experience throughout the cycle. This way you can spot any patterns or anything unusual happening in your cycle. 

More than a birth control app

Natural Cycles is the first app to be FDA cleared for birth control. The app uses temperature data to work out where you are in your cycle so you know whether or not you’re fertile. You can then use this info to either plan or prevent pregnancy - making Natural Cycles much more than a birth control app. In fact, users who use Natural Cycles to get pregnant conceive in three cycles or less on average. 

As well as adapting to your fertility journey, Natural Cycles can also help you keep track of symptoms and signs that happen throughout your cycle. You can log everything from different types of pain to different levels of sex drive. Learn more about the science behind Natural Cycles or download the app today.

Ready to get started?

Jen on the roof terrace at Natural Cycles headquarters.

Written By

Jennifer Gray

A writer with a passion for women’s health, Jennifer Gray has years of experience writing about various reproductive health topics including birth control, planning pregnancy, women’s anatomy, and so much more.

Jack in a suit and tie holding a microphone and giving a presentation.

Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

With 10 years of experience working in the field of fertility, Dr. Jack Pearson is Natural Cycles’ in-house expert. As Medical Affairs Manager, he dedicates his time to conducting groundbreaking research and educating healthcare professionals.

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