Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrial cells, which normally line the uterus, grow outside the uterus. These abnormal endometrial cells break down during the monthly cycle just as normal endometrial cells do, but cannot be expelled from the body during menstruation.

Fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus which seem to be correlated with endometriosis.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are noncancerous tumors which grow around the uterus. They can range in size from too small to be seen by the naked eye to so large they distort the uterus. Depending on their location, they may also affect fertility.

Many women will have fibroids during their lifetime, but most are not aware of them because they may cause little or no symptoms. The symptoms of fibroids include heavy menstruation, or menstruation lasting longer than a week, pelvic pressure or pain, and difficulty urinating or frequent urination. In rare cases, a fibroid outgrows its blood supply and dies, which can be very painful.

The cause of fibroids is not known. They seem to run in families, which may indicate a genetic or environmental cause. Symptomatic fibroids may be associated with endometriosis.

Types of fibroids

There are several types of fibroids named based on their location in the body.

Intramural fibroids are the most common type and occur in the muscle wall of the uterus.

Subserosal fibroids develop outside the uterine wall and into the pelvis. This type of fibroid can become very large and may need to be removed with surgery.

Submucosal fibroids develop in the inner lining of the uterus beneath the muscle layer, and grow into the cavity of the uterus.

Treatment of fibroids

While most fibroids do not cause any symptoms, those that do can be treated. Medications can be used to reduce heavy bleeding that can be caused by fibroids; these include the levonorgestrel intrauterine system, tranexamic acid, or progesterone.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs may be prescribed to reduce the size of fibroids.

If necessary, surgery may be needed to remove fibroids. In extreme cases, a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) may be recommended.

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