Clinical presentation of fibroids

Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2008 Aug;22(4):615-26. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2008.01.008. Epub 2008 Mar 26.


Uterine fibroids, the most common tumours in women of reproductive age, are asymptomatic in at least 50% of afflicted women. However, in other women, they cause significant morbidity and affect quality of life. Clinically, they present with a variety of symptoms: menstrual disturbances including menorrhagia, dysmenorrhoea and intermenstrual bleeding; pelvic pain unrelated to menstruation; and pressure symptoms such as a sensation of bloatedness, increased urinary frequency and bowel disturbance. In addition, they may compromise reproductive function, possibly contributing to subfertility, early pregnancy loss and later pregnancy complications such as pain, preterm labour, malpresentations, increased need for caesarean section, and postpartum haemorrhage. Large fibroids may distend the abdomen, which may be aesthetically displeasing to many women. Abnormal bleeding occurs in 30% of symptomatic women, and abnormal bleeding, bloating and pelvic discomfort due to mass effect constitute the most common symptoms. The incidence of fibroids is highest in Black women, who tend to have multiple and larger fibroids, and more symptomatic fibroids at the time of diagnosis. The prevalence of clinically significant myomas peaks in the perimenopausal years and declines after the menopause. It is not known why some fibroids are symptomatic while others are quiescent. The size, number and location of fibroids undoubtedly determine their clinical behaviour, but research has yet to correlate these parameters with clinical presentation of the fibroids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Leiomyoma / complications*
  • Leiomyoma / diagnosis
  • Pelvic Pain / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic / diagnosis
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / complications*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / diagnosis