What is a submucosal uterine fibroid?

Ask the doctors

Q. I was recently diagnosed with a uterine fibroid. My doctor told me that the type I have is called a submucosal fibroid. What does this mean?

A. Uterine fibroids are common, affecting some 70% or more women. Doctors describe fibroids based on where in the uterus they are growing. There are three main types:

  • Intramural fibroids grow within the muscle wall of the uterus.

  • Subserosal fibroids grow outward from the uterus into the pelvic cavity.

  • Submucosal, or intracavitary, fibroids grow into the uterus.

Because submucosal fibroids grow just beneath the inner lining of the uterus, they often cause more bleeding problems than other types of fibroids because they can crowd the uterine space. They may cause symptoms even when they are very small.

Submucosal fibroids are also the most likely to lead to pregnancy and fertility problems. People with submucosal fibroids sometimes experience heavy menstrual bleeding and long periods. Depending on the size of your fibroid and the symptoms you are experiencing, your doctor may want to simply watch the fibroid, or he or she may recommend treating it using medication or a surgical procedure. Your doctor may also want to take a biopsy (sample) of the fibroid to make sure that it is not cancerous.

— by Hope Ricciotti, M.D., and Toni Golen, M.D.
Editors in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Image: © noipornpan | iStock/Getty Images

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