What is an intramural fibroid?
An intramural fibroid is a noncancerous tumor that grows between the muscles of the uterus.
There are several types of intramural fibroids:
- anterior intramural fibroid, located in the front of the uterus
- posterior intramural fibroid, located in the back of the uterus
- fundal intramural fibroid, located in the upper part of the uterus
In size, intramural fibroids can range from as small as a pea to as large as a grapefruit.
The exact cause of intramural fibroids is unknown. Many doctors believe that fibroids develop from an abnormal muscle cell in the middle layer of the uterine wall. When that cell is influenced by estrogen — the primary female hormone — it rapidly multiplies and forms a tumor.
Intramural fibroids have symptoms similar to those of other fibroid types. Many people experience mild symptoms, if any at all.
Some experience more severe symptoms, including:
Typically, intramural fibroids and other types of fibroids are discovered during a routine pelvic exam or an abdominal examination.
Other procedures for diagnosing these growths may include:
Treating intramural fibroids often involves “watchful waiting.” Your doctor will monitor your symptoms for changes and examine you to see if the fibroids have grown in size.
If you begin to experience significant symptoms, your doctor may recommend other treatment options, including:
- Myomectomy. This surgical procedure removes the fibroid while leaving the uterus intact.
- Hysterectomy. With this surgical procedure, your doctor will remove the entire uterus to prevent further complications from fibroids.
- Uterine artery embolization (UAE). This technique cuts off the blood supply to the fibroid. The goal of a UAE is to reduce the size of the fibroid or completely eliminate it.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists. This treatment lowers estrogen levels and triggers medical menopause. The goal is to shrink or eliminate the fibroid.
In more than 99 percent of fibroid cases, the tumors are noncancerous (benign) and typically slow-growing. Intramural fibroids often cause few, if any, symptoms. However, this condition can cause you to experience severe discomfort.
If you notice any irregular bleeding or other symptoms, schedule a visit with your doctor to receive a comprehensive diagnosis. Intramural fibroids are treatable. Your doctor will be able to provide you with advice on dealing with the discomfort or recommendations for specific treatment options.