The uterus is one organ in a complex system that composes the structures common to the internal genitalia of a woman. The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ of reproduction in which the fertilized egg is implanted and the fetus develops. However, the uterus, which is composed of the cervix, body, and fundus, can experience stress beyond its role in pregnancy.
One such uterine anomaly is the formation of fibrous or fully developed connective tissue, resulting in abnormal muscle cells, referred to as a uterine fibroid or myoma. A myoma is a benign neoplasm, affecting 20-30% of all women by the age of 40 and more than 50% of women overall. Uterine fibroids are much more common among African Americans than Caucasians, although the reason for this is not clearly understood.
A fibroid can form on the interior muscular wall, as well as the exterior of the uterus. Fibroids are spherical, firm lumps that most often occur in groups. Symptoms of uterine fibroids (and their impact on general health) include abnormally heavy menstrual periods (with the likelihood of anemia), shortened menstrual cycles (less than 28 days), metrorraghia (unexplained uterine bleeding), fatigue, increased vaginal discharge, painful sexual intercourse, and pain or pressure in the bowel or bladder. Some women, however, judge their condition to be asymptomatic, with the diagnosis of uterine fibroids being made only after a routine pelvic examination.