When it comes to uterine fibroids, size matters


When it comes to uterine fibroids, size matters

When a doctor suspects that a patient may have a fibroid, he or she will likely perform a simple ultrasound to confirm diagnosis. Some doctors prefer to receive further and more exact details through the use of magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI). This gives the doctor an opportunity to see IF this is fibroids and if so, what is their size, position and how many are present.


When do I panic?

Panic is never part of a treatment plan, so our first recommendation would be to b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Careful consultation with experienced and trusted medical professionals will help you develop a treatment plan.

Fibroids come in varying sizes and are generally classified as small, medium and large.

  • Small – Up to 5 centimeters (pea to cherry-sized)
  • Medium – 5-10 centimeters (plum to large orange-sized)
  • Large – 10 centimeters or larger (grapefruit-sized or larger)

Often, fibroids create few to no noticeable symptoms, prompting many women to choose to watchfully wait, visiting a doctor periodically to monitor the fibroid’s growth. Other women are less lucky, with fibroids causing significant disturbance to their health and quality of life. It is then that interventions are considered.


When are uterine fibroids dangerous?

Small fibroids rarely create difficulties due to their size. While they can cause symptoms that are disturbing and lower quality of life, their small size only rarely exerts enough pressure on surrounding tissues to cause a problem.

As a fibroid grows, its position becomes a factor as to the misery it creates. For example, a fibroid growing inside the muscles of the uterus can change the shape of those muscles, blocking fallopian tubes. Fibroids growing outside the uterus can intrude into the space usually occupied by the pleura (chest lining) and that can become painful. Still larger fibroids can cause bleeding as they reach the end of their life cycle. Growing fibroids that put pressure on the bladder can cause frequent urination, and pressure on the bowel may cause constipation. Fibroids can sometimes even reach sizes where they cause abdominal bulge, similar to how an advancing pregnancy would appear.


How much “growth” is a problem?

“A small fibroid must have a larger change in size than a large fibroid to conclude that it is growing, but even for small fibroids an increase in diameter of >20% is likely to indicate “true growth,” not measurement variability.

The study that produced this conclusion also states that there can be up to 20% measurement error, therefore presenting a situation needing to be monitored, rather than a problem needing an immediate solution.


Pregnancy changes things

Fibroids can create some unpredictable complications during pregnancy and therefore must be carefully monitored. Issues to keep on top of include:

  • Placenta previa – implantation of the placenta over the cervix
  • Placental abruption – premature separation of the placenta from the uterus
  • Fibroid growth – 2/3 of fibroids change size during pregnancy, usually during the first trimester
  • Breech position – If fibroid(s) limit fetal movement, the baby may not be able to flip to a safer and more typical “head first” presentation, possibly necessitating a cesarean delivery
  • Preterm delivery – Lack of space may lead to an early (before 37 weeks) delivery.

It is due to these potential fibroid-related pitfalls that women should be sure to regularly visit a trusted and experienced medical professional – partners in women’s health, as it were – throughout their pregnancies.

While fibroids don’t always cause problems, they can. Please be informed of both your own situation and what can be done about it. Wishing health, strength, and more and more solutions for women to live healthier lives.

Here at Talking Fibroids, our goal is to educate people about Uterine Fibroids and their symptoms. Find out more about us here or Get in contact with us today!