What Are Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids are noncancerous tumors or masses of muscular tissue that can develop within the wall of the uterus. They are the most common noncancerous tumor in premenopausal women. You may hear your health care professional call fibroids by other terms, including uterine leiomyomas, fibromyomas, fibromas, myofibromas and myomas. They can be small or quite large.


What actually causes fibroids to form isn’t clear, but genetics and hormones are thought to play a big role. Your body may be predisposed to developing fibroids. They seem to grow or shrink depending on estrogen levels in your body, but researchers don’t know why some women develop them while others don’t.

Your risk for developing fibroids increases with age. African-American women are more likely than Caucasian women to have them, and they are more likely to develop fibroids at a younger age. If women in your family have already been diagnosed with fibroids, you have an increased risk of developing them. You may also be at an increased risk if you are obese or have high blood pressure.

Although the term ‘tumor’ or ‘tumors’ is used medically to describe fibroids, they are not cancerous. This means that they will not spread to other parts of the body, and will never become cancerous or ‘malignant’ tumors. Most often, we use the term fibroid by itself, since fibroid tumor always causes apprehension with women. Or we use the myoma, or leiomyoma. Less commonly we use terms like fibromas or myofibroids.

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