Your symptoms will depend on the number of tumors you have as well as their location and size. For instance, submucosal fibroids may cause heavy menstrual bleeding and trouble conceiving.
If your tumor is very small or you’re going through menopause, you may not have any symptoms. Fibroids may shrink during and after menopause. This is because women undergoing menopause are experiencing a drop in their levels of estrogen and progesterone, hormones that stimulate fibroid growth.
Symptoms of fibroids may include:
- heavy bleeding between or during your periods that includes blood clots
- pain in the pelvis or lower back
- increased menstrual cramping
- increased urination
- pain during intercourse
- menstruation that lasts longer than usual
- pressure or fullness in your lower abdomen
- swelling or enlargement of the abdomen
How Are Fibroids Diagnosed?
If you have symptoms of uterine fibroids, your doctor may order these tests:
If confirmation is needed, your doctor may order an ultrasound. It uses sound waves to get a picture of your uterus to confirm the diagnosis and to map and measure fibroids.
A doctor or technician moves the ultrasound device (transducer) over your abdomen (transabdominal) or places it inside your vagina (transvaginal) to get images of your uterus.
If you have abnormal menstrual bleeding, your doctor may order other tests to investigate potential causes. These might include a complete blood count (CBC) to determine if you have anemia because of chronic blood loss and other blood tests to rule out bleeding disorders or thyroid problems.
Other Imaging Tests
If traditional ultrasound doesn’t provide enough information, your doctor may order other imaging studies, such as:
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
This imaging test can show in more detail the size and location of fibroids, identify different types of tumors, and help determine appropriate treatment options. An MRI is most often used in women with a larger uterus or in women approaching menopause (perimenopause).
Hysterosonography (his-tur-o-suh-NOG-ruh-fee), also called a saline infusion sonogram, uses sterile salt water (saline) to expand the uterine cavity, making it easier to get images of submucosal fibroids and the lining of the uterus in women attempting pregnancy or who have heavy menstrual bleeding.
Hysterosalpingography (his-tur-o-sal-ping-GOG-ruh-fee) uses a dye to highlight the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes on X-ray images. Your doctor may recommend it if infertility is a concern. This test can help your doctor determine if your fallopian tubes are open or are blocked and can show some submucosal fibroids.
For this exam, your doctor inserts a small, lighted telescope called a hysteroscope through your cervix into your uterus. Your doctor then injects saline into your uterus, expanding the uterine cavity and allowing your doctor to examine the walls of your uterus and the openings of your fallopian tubes.