Leiomyoma Definition

Uterine leiomyomas, commonly known as uterine fibroids, are noncancerous growths of the uterus that affect a significant number of women worldwide.

These benign tumors can vary in size, number, and location within the uterine wall and can exist undetected or be the cause of many different symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

Today we are going to go over uterine leiomyoma definition, what we know about their formation, the different types that form, and the impact these leiomyomas of the uterus can have on a woman’s health.

What Is A Leiomyoma?

Uterine leiomyomas are tumors that originate from the smooth muscle cells of the uterus, also known as myometrial cells. These growths are typically composed of a mixture of muscle tissue and fibrous connective tissue and while they are almost always non-cancerous, they can cause a range of symptoms and complications, affecting a woman’s quality of life.

How Do Uterine Leiomyomas Occur?

The exact cause of uterine leiomyomas remains unclear, but several factors are thought to contribute to their development. These factors include hormonal fluctuations, obesity, vitamin D deficiency, genetics, ethnicity, and early menses. Excess estrogen also appears to play a significant role in the growth and development of these tumors. Leiomyomas tend to grow during the reproductive years, when hormone levels are at their peak and often shrink after menopause, when the production of hormones declines. They also tend to grow larger during the first trimester of pregnancy due to the influx of extra estrogen women experience during that time.

Population Affected By Leiomyomas

Uterine leiomyomas are a very common health issue among women, particularly during their reproductive years and It is estimated that up to 70–80% of women may develop uterine fibroids by the age of 50. They can occur in women of any age, they are most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 30 and 40.

Did you know that black women are diagnosed with fibroids about three times more often than white women? It’s interesting because they also tend to develop them at an earlier age and have larger and more numerous fibroids, which can lead to more severe symptoms. The reasons for this disparity are not entirely clear and may involve genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors.

Researchers are still actively studying leiomyomas to figure out what causes them, develop more effective treatments, and improve how to best manage this common gynecological condition.

How Do Leiomyomoas Affect A Woman’s Life?

Even though the uterine leiomyoma definition states that this condition is benign, it can have a significant impact on a woman’s life in various ways, both physically and emotionally. The effects of uterine fibroids can vary widely depending on factors such as the size, number, and where they are located, as well as individual differences in how the body responds to them. Here are some common ways in which uterine leiomyomas can affect a woman’s life:

Menstrual Irregularities
Uterine leiomyomas are often associated with heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) and prolonged periods. Many women diagnosed with uterine fibroids encounter excessive bleeding, resulting in anemia, fatigue, and the inability to attend and function at work and social events. The management of heavy menstrual bleeding can present a considerable challenge and result in a diminished overall quality of life.
Discomfort/Pelvic Pain
Fibroids can cause pelvic pain, pressure, and discomfort, particularly when they grow large or are located in specific areas of the uterus. This pain can range from mild to severe and may interfere with daily activities, disrupt their career, or disrupt their everyday routine.
Pelvic Pain during Intercourse
Sometimes, leiomyomas can make having sex painful or uncomfortable, which can negatively affect a woman’s sexual health and relationships.
Urinary Symptoms
Large leiomyomas can press against the bladder, causing frequent urination or difficulty emptying the bladder completely. This can lead to urinary urgency, increased visits to the restroom, sleepless nights, and disruptions of daily routines.
Fertility and Pregnancy
Depending on their size and location, leiomyomas can affect fertility by interfering with the implantation of a fertilized egg or blocking the fallopian tubes. They can also contribute to pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage or the baby being born too early.
Emotional and Psychological Impact
Dealing with the physical symptoms and potential complications of uterine leiomyomas can have a significant emotional toll. Women with fibroids may experience stress, anxiety, and depression related to their condition, especially if it impacts their daily lives, fertility, or overall well-being.
Quality of Life
Fibroids have the potential to restrict a woman’s capacity to engage in routine activities, and exercise, and uphold a satisfactory quality of life. The management of symptoms related to fibroids often necessitates regular medical appointments and treatment, which can impose significant emotional and financial burdens.

Different Types of Leiomyomas

Uterine leiomyomas come in various types and are put in categories based on their location within the uterus:

  • Intramural Leiomyomas: are they ones found developing most of the time and are located within the muscular uterine wall. Intramural leiomyomas in the uterus can grow to various sizes and may lead to symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and pressure;
  • Submucosal Leiomyomas: Growing just beneath the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium), these submucosal leiomyomas can significantly affect a woman’s menstrual flow, leading to heavy and prolonged periods;
  • Subserosal Leiomyomoas: Developing on the outer wall of the uterus, these growths can press against surrounding organs, causing pain, excess pressure, and discomfort. These leiomyomas can even cause back pain that is similar to the type experienced by individuals with sciatica;
  • Pedunculated Leiomyomoas: Most leiomyomas are directly attached to the uterus; however, in some cases, they can be attached to the uterine wall by a stalk (peduncle) and can grow both inside and outside the uterus. Leiomyomas that are pedunculated may become twisted, causing severe pain and potentially requiring surgical removal.
Types of uterine fibroids: submucosal, subserosal, intramural, and cervical
Types of uterine fibroids: submucosal, subserosal, intramural, and cervical

Early identification and successful treatment of uterine leiomyomas depend on a clear understanding of their causes, the many symptoms they can produce, and the populations they most frequently affect. It is important to find a doctor who understands the nuances of leiomyomas and is qualified to help you address the symptoms you are experiencing.

Most of the available treatments for leiomyomas have negative side effects, are invasive, or involve surgery. At the Atlanta Fibroid Center, women receive individualized care and an enhanced quality of life thanks to advancements in non-invasive techniques and UFE.

Dr. Lipman and Dr. Ermentrout are interventional radiologists who perform uterine fibroid embolization, or UFE, to eliminate fibroids at the Atlanta Fibroid Center. This short procedure is done under light sedation and does not require a hospital stay because it is not surgery. Special particles are injected into specific locations that target the leiomyomas’ necessary supply of blood, which stops them from growing further. With the lack of this vital blood supply, the fibroids shrink and die, which in turn eliminates their related symptoms. UFE can get rid of all the fibroids, unlike myomectomy surgery, which often must be repeated within 5 years. Most women, free of their debilitating symptoms, feel like they have a whole new lease on life just a few short months after the procedure, and others find they no longer have fertility issues and are successful in conceiving and having a baby.

If you have symptoms associated with uterine leiomyomas, contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center to talk about your options. UFE is not a surgical procedure, and many OB-GYNs are not aware of this option. They can offer some forms of medication that may help temporarily and perform surgical procedures such as myomectomy (which often damages your uterus and doctors are unable to remove all the fibroids) and hysterectomy (which removes your uterus), but they do not offer the non-invasive, 97% effective UFE option.

Get in touch with us today by clicking on this appointment link, and one of our experts will be happy to answer your questions. UFE can preserve your fertility while giving you back your life. You deserve to be fibroid-free, so contact us today to find out how!

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