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Debunking Myths and Exploring Uterine Fibroid Facts

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jun 24, 2022

    Debunking Myths and Exploring Uterine Fibroid Facts

    Fibroids are uterine tumors involving muscles of the uterus (myometrium) that affect a wide majority of women of reproductive age. So it’s important to know uterine fibroid facts and myths to know how to intervene.

    Also referred to as myomas, fibroids are usually benign or non-cancerous tumors. In most cases, the condition is asymptomatic, that is, the symptoms do not manifest themselves and cannot be seen or felt. But in certain cases, they can grow into the cavity of the uterus, leading to complications in pregnancy and increasing the chances of a miscarriage. 

    In turn, cancerous tumors occur only in rare cases and seldom are life-threatening. Very rarely, the fibroid may cause severe abdominal pain when a blood vessel overlying it ruptures or when the myoma undergoes degeneration, requiring emergency medical attention. In this article, we will talk about more such uterine fibroid facts and separating them from myths.

    Uterine Fibroid Facts and Myths

    There are several myths revolving around uterine fibroids. Knowing the types, symptoms, and debunking the uterine fibroid myths is important to prevent or manage the condition.

    But first, it helps to be familiar with its types. This benign tumor of the uterus can be classified into the following three sub-categories based on their location of growth:

    Subserosal fibroids

    In this case, the uterine tumor develops on the outer surface of the uterus. It may also be connected to the uterus by a stalk which can be wide-based or thin.

    Intramural fibroids

    Here, the tumor grows inside the muscle of the uterus.

    Submucosal fibroids

    The tumor grows into the cavity of the uterus.

    While this condition may remain asymptomatic for many, some women may develop certain symptoms.

    The most prominent symptoms of this medical condition are as below: 

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Anemia due to excessive menstrual bleeding
  • Painful cramps
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Constipation
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Enlarged uterus by about 10 times the normal size, in case of a large tumorous growth – a symptom known as ‘bulk symptoms’, making the patient feel that she might be pregnant, bloated, or always full.
  • The only cause behind this medical condition is believed to be a genetic history. Risk factors for this uterine condition also include obesity, reproductive age group, and poor dietary habits. 

    Myths and Uterine Fibroid Facts

    Now that you have a fair idea about the types, symptoms, and causes of fibroids in the uterus, let’s start discussing the uterine fibroid facts to combat some of the most common myths surrounding this medical condition.

    Myth: Uterine fibroids are cancerous or can become cancerous.

    Fact: On the list of uterine fibroid facts is that they are benign tumors and often remain so. There is however leiomyosarcoma which is a malignant smooth muscle tumor of the uterus. A woman with a uterine mass assumed to be a myoma might sometimes be found to have a leiomyosarcoma or leiomyoma variation upon pathologic study, despite the fact that it is uncommon.

    Myth: Fibroids of the uterus need to be surgically removed.

    Fact: This would depend on the size, location, and symptoms. If there are no significant symptoms affecting fertility, menstrual bleeding, or if there is no discomfort, myoma may just be monitored closely. If it causes genitourinary problems, surgical removal may be warranted. Medical management can alleviate the symptoms and can sometimes decrease the size of fibroids but upon discontinuing, the fibroid may return to its previous size with the associated symptoms.

    Invasive surgical treatments, like open surgery, are an option to treat uterine fibroids but minimally-invasive surgical procedures, such as laparoscopy, may be used. In other countries, High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), a highly precise medical procedure, is used locally to heat and destroy fibroid tissue through ablation. This method is non-surgical and non-invasive.

    uterine fibroid facts

    Myth: The only treatment available is hysterectomy.

    Fact: Medical science has come a long way since the times when hysterectomy was the only available treatment option. Now, there are several minimally invasive procedures like uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), which are often considered to be better alternatives.

    UFE enables women to avoid having their uterus removed and also ensures quick recovery. It blocks the blood flow to the fibroids, making them shrink and disappear. This is one of the uterine fibroid facts that may surprise those living with a myoma for a long time. Surgically, myomectomy or removing only the fibroid and retaining the uterus is feasible.

    Myth: The uterine condition causes infertility.

    Fact: Contrary to popular opinion that closely connects all fibroids of the uterus to infertility, the same cannot be said about every case.

    One of the most important uterine fibroids facts to remember is that there is a wide range of factors that determine the ability to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy till the end of the term.

    In case of fertility problems, treatments often help. Women with asymptomatic conditions of uterine fibroids usually do not experience fertility issues. 

    Myth: Heavy menstrual bleeding indicates uterine fibroids.

    Fact: Heavy menstrual bleeding is definitely one of the symptoms of this uterine disorder, but it is one of the many symptoms of fibroids. This symptom can imply many other conditions.

    What’s more, this is one of the most important uterine fibroid facts: not all women experience symptoms, including cases when the fibroid is large in size. Even when the growth is large, not always does it cause excessive menstrual bleeding.

    Thus, it is clear that heavy menstrual bleeding does not always mean there are uterine fibroids. Fibroids of the uterus can be diagnosed only through diagnostic tests prescribed by a doctor. 

    Myth: The medical condition only affects women between 30 and 50 years of age.

    Fact: Fibroids of the uterus can affect women across ages, right from the 20s to 50s. African-American women of this age group are more susceptible to the risk of developing this uterine condition than other races around the world. The risk of developing this condition usually reduces after menopause as the levels of estrogen get reduced. 

    Myth: The medical condition is always cured once treated.

    Fact: Uterine fibroids can be treated, but not cured. This means that the non-malignant tumor can be removed and prevented from growing further. However, this does not imply that the condition will not recur after its removal. Once you have been diagnosed with this condition, you have to visit your doctor at regular intervals or as advised by the physician.

    This will enable your doctor to keep a close track of the condition and treat it immediately if it recurs. In case of recurrence of uterine fibroids, a different course of treatment may have to be followed. However, minimally invasive procedures are now able to prevent uterine fibroids from recurring.

    Myth: Fibroids always grow if left untreated.

    Fact: The size of fibroids vary amongst patients. In some cases, it is small and never grows beyond a certain size even when not treated. This is one of the factors that explain why some fibroids are never diagnosed.

    In other instances, they may grow large enough for patients to feel that they are pregnant. 

    Myth: The uterine fibroids disappear after menopause.

    Fact: All uterine fibroids do not disappear after menopause. In some women, new growths may appear when patients undergo hormone replacement therapy. Here too, minimally invasive procedures help in shrinking the fibroid. 

    Myth: Medications are enough to make fibroids shrink.

    Fact: Medications may be effective in certain cases but not all fibroids can be treated effectively with it. Progesterone-based shots and pills control heavy menstrual bleeding caused due to the uterine condition.

    Some other medications may help in making the growth shrink over a span of time. However, these drugs prove to be effective only when they are taken continuously. This means that patients will most likely have to take these throughout their lives. Once they stop taking it, there is a risk that the fibroid may recur.

    Some of these medications are also accompanied by negative side effects. As a result, minimally invasive procedures and surgical interventions are largely favored over medications as effective treatment options.

    Do you have more uterine fibroid facts or myths to add to this list? You can share them with us in the comments!

    Learn more about uterine fibroids here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

    Obstetrics and Gynecology

    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jun 24, 2022

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