Uterine fibroids, which are also called uterine leiomyomas, are non-cancerous tumors that arise in the smooth muscle of the wall of the uterus, cervix or ovary. Fibroids are the most common type of tumor that develop in the female reproductive system. Roughly 40 percent of women over the age of 40 develop a uterine fibroid, according to an article published in the October 2000 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. Pain is the most common sign of fibroid degeneration, although different types of degeneration can cause slightly different symptoms.
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Pain is the most frequent sign of uterine fibroid degeneration. The process of degeneration usually begins when the fibroid grows so large that the nearby blood vessels can no longer supply it with oxygen and nutrients. As the cells of the fibroid die, they are often replaced by collagen, the semi-rigid substance found in joints, the ears and the tip of the nose. This type of degeration is called hyaline degeneration. The pain is often severe and localized to the site of the fibroid, usually somewhere in the pelvic area, according to the University of California - San Francisco Medical Center. The severe pain associated with fibroid degeneration often lasts for two to four weeks, according to the University of California - San Francisco Women's Health Center. An over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can be taken to decrease the pain symptoms. In certain causes, the pain may not disappear after two to four weeks, resulting in chronic pelvic pain, which is also usually localized to the site of the fibroid. However, the chronic pain is generally less severe than the acute pain.
A fibroid can undergo a different type of degeneration known as red degeneration, or necrobiosis. This type of degeneration typically occurs during pregnancy. In addition to pelvic pain, red degeneration may cause a low-grade fever and a temporary elevation in white blood cell count, notes Cancer-Disease-Symptoms.org.
In some rare cases, a degenerating uterine fibroid may cause hemorrhage or bleeding. In these cases, the degeneration is called a carneous degeneration. The bleeding can also result in a drop in hemoglobin levels, explains Cancer-Disease-Symptoms.org.
- "Environmental Health Perspectives"; Pathology and Pathophysiology of Uterine Smooth-Muscle Tumors; Stanley J. Robbery et al; October 2000
- University of California - San Francisco Medical Center: Fibroids
- University of California - San Francisco Women's Health Center: Fibroid Symptoms
- Cancer-Disease-Symptoms.org: What are the Symptoms and Sgns of Fibroid Tumors?