Subserosal Fibroid

Definition - What does Subserosal Fibroid mean?

A subserosal fibroid is an abnormal but benign (non-cancerous) growth that develops on the outer wall of a woman's uterus. It is one of the several types of leiomyomas; fibroids are also referred to as leiomyomas. Unlike submucosal fibroids that impair fertility, subserosal fibroids usually do not interfere with a woman's fertility potential. It is only when they grow large enough to become pedunculated fibroids (bearing a stem), that they significantly affect a woman's capability to get pregnant. Enormous subserosal fibroids can distort the anatomy of the uterus and fallopian tubes, which accordingly also has a severe impact on pregnancy and fertility.

FertilitySmarts explains Subserosal Fibroid

Uterine fibroids in general (including subserosal fibroids) are composed of uterine muscle and tissue. They appear to be more common in obese females, especially with advancing age but only during the reproductive years (i.e. before reaching menopause). This is because the growth of a fibroid is driven by the production of female hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone that are produced in large amounts during the reproductive age. Other factors that maximize the risk of acquiring fibroids include:

  • African american heritage
  • Family history of uterine fibroids
  • Having no children
  • Early age at first menstruation
  • Late menopause

Small fibroids usually do cause any symptoms; problems arise when a subserosal fibroid enlarges and becomes pedunculated. Given that subserosal fibroids develop on the outer wall of the uterus, the large ones can compress the surrounding organs and spine, leading to the following signs and symptoms:

  • Back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Constipation and abdominal discomfort or bloating
  • Feeling of pressure or heaviness
  • Frequent urination
  • Infertility: Huge fibroids can exert pressure on the fallopian tubes, blocking the tubes and preventing the fusion of the sperm and egg

Unlike other forms, subserosal fibroids usually do not cause heavy bleeding.

The majority of subserosal fibroids usually don't interfere with pregnancy but a few may grow excessively large, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy due to the high levels of estrogen and progesterone. During this period, a woman with any form of fibroid is at increased risk of undergoing a spontaneous miscarriage. The colossal fibroids tend to distort the uterine cavity making it crowded and congested. This compromises the growth of the developing baby and the normal blood supply to the placenta as well as causes the uterus to contract inordinately, culminating in a miscarriage.

It is extremely rare for a uterine fibroid to transform into a malignant (or aggressive cancer). Only one out of 350 women with fibroids will develop an aggressive cancer throughout their lifetime.

An ultrasound performed by placing the probe on the abdomen (abdominal ultrasound) best helps in detecting pelvic masses like fibroids in suspected women.

There is no single treatment for fibroids. Some women can be managed by watchful waiting and painkillers whereas others with more troubling symptoms will require surgical removal (like myomectomy or hysterectomy). In another subset of women, a procedure called uterine artery embolization can be carried out to shrink the size of the fibroids.

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