Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that appear in the uterus. They are composed of muscle and other tissue. Fibroids are very common in women of child-bearing age and tend to disappear or shrink after menopause. Women with uterine fibroids generally have no symptoms and seldom require medical care. Treatment becomes necessary when complications occur.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that certain factors such as size, number and location of the fibroids determine the extent of the complications. Fibroids can also distort the uterine cavity, causing potential problems. Women with uterine fibroids may experience infertility. Uterine fibroids may distort or block the fallopian tubes or hinder sperm from passing through the cervix to the fallopian tubes. Implantation and growth of the embryo may be impeded with fibroids.
Uterine fibroids during pregnancy have been associated with repeated miscarriages, the dangers of early labor, abnormal fetal position, and displacement of the placenta from the uterine wall. The Mayo Clinic reports that uterine fibroids occurring in the first trimester in pregnancy may increase or decrease in size, but they generally stay the same.
Uterine fibroids may cause excessive menstrual flow resulting in a low blood count called anemia. The bleeding may become so profuse that medical treatment is necessary. Bleeding may also occur between periods and could be painful.
Uterine fibroids may cause pelvic pain during sex and pain in the lower back. The fibroids can grow outside of the uterus in a stalk-like projection. If the fibroid is twisted, a sudden sharp pain occurs in the lower abdomen. The Mayo Clinic recommends obtaining medical care, as this can be potentially dangerous requiring surgical intervention.
One permanent treatment option for fibroids is a hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus or womb. Once removed, a woman can't become pregnant afterward. There are some minor complications that may ensue after a hysterectomy, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. Half of the women having a hysterectomy develop minor urinary tract infections. Mild pain and light vaginal bleeding are also associated with this surgical procedure. More serious, potentially dangerous complications after a hysterectomy are uncommon but can include an infection and blood clots.