Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop outside or inside the uterus during a woman's childbearing years, according to Medline Plus. Medically, they are sometimes referred to as leiomyomas, myomas or fibromyomas. Fibroids are generally harmless and can be shrunk or removed with medications or surgery, but there are side effects associated with fibroids.
Pelvic pain, back pain or pressure within the lower extremities are symptoms of fibroids, according to the Medline Plus. Different types of uterine fibroids can cause varying degrees of pain and discomfort. Large fibroids might produce pressure or pelvic pain, while a dying or degenerating fibroid can cause pain, pressure and fever. Fibroid degeneration means that a fibroid is dying because it no longer has a blood supply. A pedunculated fibroid that develops within the uterus stalk can twist and cause severe pain.
Fibroids can cause irregular menstrual symptoms such as heavy bleeding, prolonged menstrual period and spotting between cycles. Heavy bleeding also can lead to anemia, in which a person's red blood cells become reduced, leading to severe fatigue.
According to Uterine Fibroid Education, subserosal fibroids that develop and protrude outside the uterus can create pressure on the bladder, causing urgent or frequent urination. The patient also will experience discomfort, gas and constipation if the fibroid presses on the rectum. The University of Michigan Medical Center explains that women typically struggle with urinary incontinence, urine leaks and constipation.
Pregnancy and Fertility
The University of Michigan Medical Center reports that fibroids can create difficulties for women who want to become pregnant. Fibroids also can create problems during pregnancy, including miscarriages, early labor and delivery, or excessively bleeding after the birth. In addition, the baby's position for delivery might create problems.
Hemorrhoids and bloating can be caused by fibroids, according to Uterine Fibroid Education. Typically, large fibroids might create swollen abdomens that cause women to appear pregnant. The University of Michigan Medical Center explains that fibroids do not increase a patient's cancer risk and cancer does not develop in existing fibroids.