Uterine fibroids are typically silent in at least 60 percent of women. They are discovered on a routine examination of the pelvis or when an ultrasound scan of the pelvis is carried out for some other reasons. In the other 40 percent of women, uterine fibroids may cause one or more of the following symptoms:
On examination of the pelvis, a doctor may suspect a uterine fibroid if the uterus is found to be larger in size than normal or the contour of the uterus is irregular.
The diagnosis is typically based on the finding of a growth on ultrasound scan of the uterus. CT-scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the abdomen and pelvis will also show the presence of uterine fibroids.
A common condition, uterine fibroids are found in many women who experience difficulty in becoming pregnant. There is, however, no evidence to show that uterine fibroids cause infertility. If they do, it happens only in a very small proportion of women, for example, in a situation when a fibroid of moderate size located near the fallopian tube causes a blockade in the tube.
It is a common belief that uterine fibroid can cause the pregnancy to miscarry. Research has not shown a conclusive evidence for this belief. Why miscarriage seems to happen commonly in women who have fibroids can be explained by the facts that both fibroids and miscarriage are commoner as a woman becomes older. In fact, the great majority of women with fibroids, including those with a large fibroid, continue the pregnancy with no abnormal outcomes.
A peculiar complication of uterine fibroids during pregnancy is an uncommon change in the fibroid known as ‘red degeneration’. This condition causes abdominal pain that may require treatment with pain killers. This condition, however, has no adverse outcome on the pregnancy in terms of miscarriage or premature birth of the baby.