Synonyms: Uterine fibroids, Leiomyoma

Medical Specialties: Family practice, Internal medicine, Obstetrics/gynecology

Clinical Definition

A uterine fibroid, or leiomyoma, is a noncancerous tumor composed of muscle and connective tissue from the uterine wall. Fibroids grow as a single nodule or in clusters, ranging from a millimeter to more than 20 centimeters in diameter. Bleeding is a common presenting symptom. Not all fibroids need treatment, but treatments include medications, surgery and fibroid embolization.

In Our Own Words

A fibroid, also called a uterine fibroid or leiomyoma, is a growth or tumor that is not cancerous that develops from the uterus, or womb. Fibroids grow as a single nodule or in clusters. They range from tiny, one-millimeter bumps, to more than 8 inches in diameter. Although researchers are still trying to understand what causes fibroids, risk factors include obesity, family history, childlessness, early menstrual periods and late menopause.


Bleeding between periods and painful bleeding during periods may occur, as well as pain during intercourse, low back pain, vaginal discharge and frequent urination. Some fibroids do not need treatment, especially if they are not causing symptoms. If treatment is needed, options include medications to relieve pain, surgery to remove them, or a procedure that reduces blood supply to the tumors and makes them shrink (embolization).

Relevant Conditions
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Heavy menstrual flow (menorrhagia)
Side Effects
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Severe menstrual cramps
Share this article
  • Harvard Medical School. "Medical Dictionary of Health Terms." 2013. Accessed Sept. 2013.
  • The Cleveland Clinic. "Uterine Fibroids Overview." Disorders. June 2009. Accessed Sept. 2013.
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