Fibroids can cause heavy menstrual bleeding. A change in vaginal discharge — especially a strong unpleasant smell — is a sign of infection and typically needs medical attention.

Fibroids are benign (noncancerous) tumors that grow in and around the walls of the uterus. It’s not fully understood why they start to grow.

They can be very small or grow to be bigger than a grapefruit.

Sometimes fibroids don’t cause any symptoms. Other times, they can cause heavy periods and pain, among other symptoms.

There are different treatment options for fibroids. Many people undergo minimally invasive procedures to treat the growths.

Fibroids can affect vaginal discharge before and after these treatments. It’s unusual, but there are recorded cases of fibroid tissue being discharged after treatment.

This doesn’t always cause a problem. Sometimes, though, further treatment is needed.

Read on to find out how fibroids affect vaginal discharge and when you may want to seek medical care.

Depending on the size and position, fibroids may or may not cause any symptoms. Fibroids often cause heavy menstrual bleeding, known as menorrhagia.

Signs of heavy menstrual bleeding include:

  • changing your pad or tampon every hour during the day
  • periods that last 7 days or longer
  • passing clots the size of a quarter or bigger

Fibroids can also cause bleeding in between periods. This is called breakthrough bleeding.

Fibroids can grow anywhere in and around your uterus. Fibroids that grow right under the lining or in the uterine wall are more likely to cause abnormal bleeding, according to a 2017 research review.

Fibroids can also increase the amount of vaginal discharge you have. This discharge is typically watery but may appear pink if there’s also some bleeding.

Other symptoms of fibroids include:

  • feeling of heaviness in the abdomen
  • pain or discomfort in your lower back
  • frequent need to pee, if the position of the fibroid puts pressure on your bladder

It’s possible to pass fibroid tissue, but it doesn’t happen very often.

In an older 2006 study of 400 people who underwent uterine fibroid embolization, 2.5 percent passed some tissue. It’s most likely to happen within the first year after fibroid embolization.

There is a published case from 2004 of fibroid tissue being passed more than 3 years after a uterine fibroid embolization procedure.

Fibroid tissue might also be passed after a focused ultrasound procedure.

This type of treatment destroys fibroid tissue using high-intensity ultrasounds. It’s considered normal for some destroyed tissue to be passed after this procedure. Not everyone will experience this, though.

Some vaginal bleeding after a procedure can be normal. It may be red, pinkish, or brown. This can last for a few days or a few weeks.

Fibroid tissue discharge is unusual after undergoing minimally invasive fibroid treatment, but it can happen. Even if it does, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem.

After treatment for fibroids, there’s a small risk of infection. A change in vaginal discharge — especially a strong, foul smell — is a sign of infection. Make sure to talk with your doctor if you experience this after a procedure.

If there’s a lot of bleeding or tissue being passed, more procedures may be needed to remove dead tissue.

Here are some signs to watch for:

  • heavy bleeding
  • sudden onset of bleeding after the initial post-procedure bleeding has stopped or slowed
  • pain
  • fever
  • discharge that has an unpleasant smell

After uterine artery embolization, it’s possible for fibroid tissue to come down in the uterus toward the cervix but not enter the vagina because it’s still attached to the uterine wall.

In these cases, a procedure is needed to remove the fibroid. However, researchers of a 2002 study found that this is very rare.

If the discharge is foul-smelling, it may indicate an infection. Infections are typically treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.

A doctor may also perform a procedure called dilation and curettage (D and C) to control bleeding and remove any remaining fibroid tissue.

Talk with your doctor about options to treat discharge that seems unusual for you.

Fibroids are quite common, though they don’t always cause symptoms. In this case, they may not need treatment.

It’s estimated that 40 to 80 percent of people with a uterus will get fibroids before reaching menopause, according to a 2012 study of more than 21,000 women across 8 countries.

Fibroids need estrogen and progesterone to grow. After menopause, they tend to stop growing or may shrink on their own.

Uterine fibroids are more common among Black people than those of other races, according to the study.

You’re more likely to get fibroids if a parent or sibling has fibroids.

Fibroids need hormones to grow, which is why they typically stop growing at menopause. You’re most likely to have fibroids detected between ages 40 and 50, according to the Office on Women’s Health.

People who start menstruating at an early age are more likely to develop fibroids.

People who have never been pregnant are also more likely to have fibroids.

Uterine fibroids are common. They can cause heavier bleeding and breakthrough bleeding between periods.

There are different treatments available for fibroids.

Although it doesn’t always happen, bleeding and increased vaginal discharge is normal after a procedure to treat fibroids. In some cases, fibroid tissue is passed.

This may not cause any problems, but you may need further treatment if there’s:

  • significant bleeding
  • significant tissue discharge
  • sign of infection