Uterine leiomyomata: etiology, symptomatology, and management

Fertil Steril. 1981 Oct;36(4):433-45. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(16)45789-4.


PIP: 1 out of 4-5 women develop uterine leiomyomata, the most common solid pelvic tumors in women. This paper assesses the reports of 4714 myomectomies and records of 59 personal cases. Townsend et al. suggested that leiomyomata are unicellular in origin. Estrogen, growth hormone, and progesterone may influence the growth of the tumors. In the performance of myomectomy, the 2 major technical concerns are the minimization of blood loss and the prevention of postoperative adhesions. Although most leiomyomata are asymptomatic and grow slowly, 20-50% of the tumors are estimated to produce symptoms, the severity of which depends upon the number, size, and location of the tumors. The symptoms include menorrhagia, infertility, fetal wastage, pelvic pain/pressure, polycythemia, ascites, impingement, and related complications (e.g., ulceration and infection, fever, pain, uterine inversion, sarcomatous change). Asymptomatic patients with uteri of less than 10-12 weeks' gestational size require no more than observation at 6-month intervals regardless of fertility status. For women with uteri of 10-12 weeks gestational size or longer, management will depend on the patient's desire for fertility. Women desirous of fertility should have a 6-12 month trial for conception. If tumor growth is rapid, myometomy may be performed earlier. Women not desirous of fertility (e.g., pre- and post-menopausal) should have total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. For symptomatic patients desirous of fertility, myomectomy using the transabdominal approach or hysteroscopy should be performed. For symptomatic patients not desiring fertility, dilatation and curettage and hysterectomy should be performed. With regard to oral contraceptive use, no studies have yet demonstrated that women on oral pills are at increased risk for growth of these tumors. Low-dose contraceptives should not be contraindicated in patients with leiomyomata if they desire to use this form of contraceptive. With IUD users, the device should be discontinued if bleeding occurs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / etiology
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Leiomyoma / complications
  • Leiomyoma / etiology
  • Leiomyoma / surgery
  • Leiomyoma / therapy*
  • Menorrhagia / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Progesterone / physiology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / complications
  • Uterine Neoplasms / etiology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / surgery
  • Uterine Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone
  • Growth Hormone