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What Is a Uterine Myoma?

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  • Written By: Clara Kedrek
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A uterine myoma is a benign proliferation of smooth muscle tissue in the uterus. Its official medical name is a uterine leiomyoma, and it is commonly referred to as a fibroid. These benign tumors are common in reproductive-age women, and cause symptoms such as heavy vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, and reproductive problems. Uterine myomas can often be diagnosed either by physical examination or by imaging tests. A number of treatment options, including medications and surgeries, are available to women affected by this condition.

In some women, the smooth muscle tissue present in the uterus can proliferate, forming a mass. The uterus contains a number of layers, including an inner mucosal surface, a middle layer made of smooth muscle tissue, and an outer surface. When this middle layer of cells multiplies in an unregulated fashion, the resultant growth is called a uterine leiomyoma, or fibroid. These tumors rarely ever progress to cancer, but can cause problems due to their size and their ability to disrupt the normal function of the uterus.

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A variety of symptoms can be caused by a uterine myoma. One of the most common presentations of this condition is abnormal menstrual bleeding. Most often women experience heavy and prolonged bleeding at the time of their cycles; as a result of this bleeding, they could develop anemia, or low red blood cell counts. Another common symptom of fibroids is lower abdomen pain, which can be heavy, sharp and cramping. Problems with reproduction, such as recurrent spontaneous miscarriages or difficulties in becoming pregnant, can also develop from this condition.

The diagnosis of uterine myoma can be made in a number of ways. If the growths are large enough, doctors or other health care providers can detect them on physical examination. They might feel a lumpiness or fullness in the area of the uterus. Patients with symptoms suspicious for fibroids can also be diagnosed by imaging studies such as an ultrasound (US) test or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. If these non-invasive tests are not helpful, doctors can use a device called a hysteroscope to visualize the inside of the uterine cavity and confirm the presence of fibroids directly.

Although some women choose not to treat a uterine myoma, others use medications or have surgery to remove the growths. Without bothersome symptoms, a woman with fibroids can simply be monitored for signs of disease progression at yearly checkups. Symptoms that are significant enough to interfere with daily life might require treatment with medications, and a first-line option is hormonal medication such as estrogen-progesterone pills or progesterone pills. Women with severe symptoms that are not helped by medications could benefit from a surgery such as a myomectomy, which removes the myoma from the uterus, or even a hysterectomy, which removes the entire uterus.

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