Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years.
Fibroids range in size from seedlings, undetectable by the human eye, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus.
You can have a single fibroid or multiple ones. In extreme cases, multiple fibroids can expand the uterus so much that it reaches the rib cage and can add weight.
*Heavy menstrual bleeding
*Menstrual periods lasting more than a week
*Pelvic pressure or pain
*Difficulty emptying the bladder
*Backache or leg pains
Fibroids are generally classified by their location. Intramural fibroids grow within the muscular uterine wall. Submucosal fibroids bulge into the uterine cavity. Subserosal fibroids project to the outside of the uterus.
Genetic changes. Many fibroids
contain changes in genes that differ from those in normal uterine muscle cells.
Hormones. Estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that stimulate development of the uterine lining during each menstrual cycle in preparation for pregnancy, appear to promote the growth of fibroids.
Fibroids contain more estrogen and progesterone receptors than normal uterine muscle cells do. Fibroids tend to shrink after menopause due to a decrease in hormone production.
Other growth factors. Substances
that help the body maintain tissues, such as insulin-like growth factor, may
affect fibroid growth.
Extracellular matrix (ECM). ECM is the material that makes cells stick together, like mortar between bricks. ECM is increased in fibroids and makes them fibrous. ECM also stores growth factors and causes biologic changes in the cells themselves.
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