Signs of Fibroids Breaking Down and What to Do (2022)

Fibroids, also called leiomyomas, are benign (noncancerous) tumors that grow inside or on the outer wall of the uterus. Up to 80% of people with uteruses will develop fibroids by the age of 50.

Fibroid degeneration is the breakdown of a fibroid through cell death. This is caused by ischemia (a lack of adequate blood supply) in the fibroid.

This ischemia is usually the result of a fibroid growing too large for its blood supply, but it can also be caused by mechanical compression (blockage) of the feeder arteries.

Signs of Fibroids Breaking Down and What to Do (1)

Fibroid degeneration can occur during pregnancy when the growth of the pregnancy compromises the blood supply of the fibroid, or when a pedunculated fibroid (a fibroid attached by a thin stalk to the uterus) becomes twisted (torsion) and cuts off the fibroid's blood supply.

Degeneration or secondary changes can be found in 65% of uterine fibroids.

Types of Degenerating Fibroids

The type of degeneration appears to depend on the degree and rapidity of onset of the vascular insufficiency (lack of adequate blood supply).

Types of degenerating fibroids include:

Hyaline Degeneration

  • Accounts for 63% of cases
  • The fibroid’s normal connective tissue and smooth muscle fibers are replaced by hyaline tissue (the most common type of cartilage, which has a glossy and smooth appearance)
  • Caused by a fibroid outgrowing its blood supply

Myxoid Degeneration

  • Accounts for 19% of cases
  • Gelatinous appearance (looks like it's melting) under a microscope
  • Has clear and mucus-like connective tissue
  • No mitotic activity (its cells are not dividing and growing as normal cells do)
  • Can have similar features as some leiomyosarcomas (rare cancer), so it is important that a pathologist takes the time to make the distinctions between the different types of fibroid degenerations

Calcification

  • Accounts for 8% of cases
  • Calcium deposits form when a fibroid is dying
  • Transforms some of the tissue into a hard mass

Cystic Degeneration

  • Accounts for 4% of cases
  • Seen more often after menopause
  • Presents in a liquid, honeycomb pattern under a microscope
  • May mimic an ovarian cyst

Red Degeneration

  • Accounts for 3% of cases
  • Also called "carneous"
  • Usually occurs during pregnancy, but can happen in people who are not pregnant, particularly those using contraceptive drugs
  • Turns almost completely red due to massive internal hemorrhaging (bleeding)
  • Usually from a ruptured blood vessel inside the fibroid
  • Fibroid degeneration during pregnancy is called necrobiosis
  • Fibroids occur in up to 12.5% of all pregnancies
  • Can cause abnormal bleeding and severe abdominal pain
  • Can be caused by fibroid tissue outgrowing its blood supply
  • Can be caused by the growing uterus causing distortion and kinking of the blood vessels, interfering with the blood supply to the fibroid
  • Pain may also be caused by the prostaglandins (hormones that influence pain levels and inflammation) produced by damage to the cells in the fibroid

Pedunculated fibroids (fibroids attached to the uterus by a thin stalk) are more prone to degeneration because they can become twisted and cut off the blood supply to the fibroid. They can be more painful and last longer than regular degeneration.

Symptoms

Typical symptoms of fibroids can include:

  • Menstrual periods lasting longer than seven days
  • More frequent menstrual periods
  • Heavier than normal bleeding during menstrual period
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Irregular bleeding between periods
  • Pelvic pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sudden or severe abdominal pain
  • Abdominal bloating and/or cramping
  • A feeling of fullness or heaviness in the pelvis/lower abdomen
  • Fever
  • Pain during sex
  • Lower back and/or thigh pain
  • Anemia
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty urinating or other bladder symptoms
  • Constipation
  • Rectal pressure
  • Difficulty with bowel movements, or other bowel symptoms

In addition to the symptoms of fibroids, signs that fibroids may be degenerating include:

  • Acute pain: Most common symptom. A sharp pain in the abdomen that may be accompanied by swelling. May be acute pelvic pain focused on the site of the fibroid.Can last from a few days to a few weeks.
  • Chronic pain: Less severe, lasting pelvic pain
  • Fever: Often during pregnancy. May be mild.
  • Bleeding: May be severe. Seek immediate care for abnormally heavy bleeding, including during menstrual periods.
  • Temporary elevation in the white blood cell count

Are Fibroids Always Symptomatic?

Fibroids do not always cause symptoms. Many people with fibroids experience few or no symptoms and may not realize they have fibroids. It is possible for degenerating fibroids to also be asymptomatic, but they tend to cause more, and more severe, symptoms than fibroids alone. For many people, degenerating fibroids are their first indication that they have fibroids at all.

(Video) Doctor Breaks Down What Women Need To Know About Fibroids

Your Symptoms May Go Away

When a fibroid degenerates, it shrinks. Once it has reduced to a size that can once again be supported by its blood supply, it can stop degenerating. This often causes the pain to decrease or subside.

Though symptoms may have gone away, it is still important to see a healthcare professional and address the problem. Fibroids will begin to grow again once they start receiving adequate blood supply, and will eventually reach the point they start degenerating again, causing a painful cycle.

When to See a Doctor

Any symptoms of fibroids or degenerating fibroids warrant a visit to a healthcare provider. While fibroids themselves are not usually life-threatening, they can cause discomfort and complications such as anemia, and put stress on surrounding organs.

In addition to the fibroids themselves, symptoms of degenerating fibroids can mimic more serious conditions, and can also be harder to diagnose with imaging equipment.

Seek immediate medical attention if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding.
  • You have new or worse belly or pelvic pain.

Preventing Degeneration

The best way to prevent fibroids from degenerating is to treat the fibroids before they degenerate and take measures to stop them from recurring.

Fibroid Treatment

Treatment for fibroids and fibroid symptoms include:

Medications such as:

  • Tranexamic acid (TXA)
  • Combined oral contraceptive pills
  • Progestin-releasing IUD (intrauterine device)
  • Progestin pills
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists
  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

Surgeries such as:

  • Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)
  • Myomectomy (removal of the fibroids)

Medical procedures such as:

(Video) The warning signs of uterine fibroids

  • Uterine fibroid embolization: A catheter is placed through the groin into the uterine artery, where small coils or pellets are released to blockthe blood supply to the fibroids.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: High-energy waves are used to generate heat that destroys fibroids.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)–guided focused ultrasound: High-intensity ultrasound waves are used while the person is in an MRI scanner to heat and destroy the uterine fibroids.
  • Endometrial ablation: Heat is used to destroy the endometrium (the lining of the uterus).

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does fibroid degeneration take?

The pain from a degenerating fibroid can last from a few days to a few weeks, but everyone experiences fibroids differently.

It is still important to seek medical care after the symptoms subside, as fibroids are likely to grow and degenerate again.

How do you help fibroid degeneration pain?

In the short term, pain from a degenerating fibroid can be managed by taking an NSAID medication, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve).

For long-term, and often permanent, relief, the fibroids need to be treated and/or removed.

What happens to a fibroid after degeneration?

Fibroids shrink during degeneration until they are small enough to reestablish an adequate blood supply.

Once this happens, the fibroids begin to grow again until they get too big and start the process of degeneration again.

For this reason, it is important to seek medical care for degenerating fibroids, even if symptoms subside.

A Word From Verywell

Fibroid degeneration can be painful and may cause unpleasant symptoms, but it can be managed and even go away completely with treatment.

If you notice any signs of fibroids or fibroid degeneration, see your healthcare provider.

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(Video) Uterine Fibroids, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

  1. USA Fibroid Centers. Fibroid degeneration.

  2. Anyanwu M, K G, M K. Diagnostic dilemma of hyaline cystic degeneration of uterine fibroids.OGIJ. 2019;10(3). doi:10.15406/ogij.2019.10.00444

  3. Shrestha R, Khanal R, Aryal MR, et al. Fibroid degeneration in a postmenopausal woman presenting as an acute abdomen. Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives. 2015;5(1):25917. doi:10.3402/jchimp.v5.25917

  4. Prabhu JK, Samal S, Chandrasekar S, Subramani D, Rajamanickam S. A massive degenerative leiomyoma mimicking an ovarian tumor: a diagnostic dilemma. Journal of Gynecologic Surgery. 2021;37(1):67-69. doi:10.1089/gyn.2020.0118

  5. Bhuyar S, Sontakke B, Rajbhara PM. Degenerated fibroid - a diagnostic challenge. Int J Reprod Contracept Obstet Gynecol.

  6. Camran Nezhat Institute. Uterine fibroid tumors - question about fibroids.

  7. Denver Fibroids. 4 important factors about fibroid degeneration.

  8. Han SC, Kim M-D, Jung DC, et al. Degeneration of leiomyoma in patients referred for uterine fibroid embolization: incidence, imaging features and clinical characteristics. Yonsei Med J. 2013;54(1):215-219. doi:10.3349/ymj.2013.54.1.215

  9. Fibroid Treatment Collective. What is degenerating fibroids?

  10. MyHealth Alberta. Uterine fibroids: care instructions.

  11. Mount Sinai. Uterine fibroids and hysterectomy.

FAQs

How do you know if a fibroid is breaking down? ›

Acute pain: The most common symptom of a degenerating fibroid is acute pelvic pain focused on the site of the fibroid. You may experience it as a sharp pain in the abdomen accompanied by swelling. This symptom can last from a few days to a few weeks.

What to do when fibroids are degenerating? ›

Treatment for Degenerating Fibroids
  1. Hysterectomy – Complete removal of the uterus on which fibroids grow. ...
  2. Uterine Fibroid Embolization – Non-surgical, minimally-invasive procedure to treat fibroid symptoms, such as heavy menstrual bleeding, bloating, and abdominal pain and pressure.

What happens if a fibroid breaks? ›

When a fibroid bursts, it causes acute blood loss that may become life-threatening. If you have fibroids and experience sudden and severe abdominal pain, see a medical professional right away. This symptom could indicate a burst fibroid or another serious issue.

Is a degenerating fibroid a good thing? ›

Degeneration isn't a good thing if you have fibroids. While it might sound like the fibroid will die and go away because of the lack of blood supply, only some of the cells die. Once the fibroid gets back to a sustainable size and blood flow is restored, it could grow again until it reaches the point of degeneration.

What kills fibroids naturally? ›

Try these tips:
  • Avoid added salt. ...
  • Limit high-sodium processed and packaged foods.
  • Check your blood pressure daily with a home monitor.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Lose weight, especially around the waist.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol.
  • Increase potassium by eating a majority of plants at each meal.

Do fibroids bleed when shrinking? ›

Do fibroids bleed when they shrink? Bleeding may occur when fibroids shrink both after surgical and nonsurgical interventions to treat fibroids. A fibroid breaking down (degenerating) may cause severe bleeding in rare cases.

Can fibroid fall out? ›

Complete expulsion of a uterine fibroid is a rare condition that may be associated with profuse hemorrhage and can pose a risk to the patient. When it occurs during perimenopause, it can mimic several clinical conditions. Therefore, gynecologists must remain alert to make the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Do fibroids hurt when shrinking? ›

Many women having fibroids don't show any symptoms, but some woman does show symptoms of fibroids which are influenced by the location, size, and a number of fibroids. A fibroid can cause severe pain when it outgrows its blood supply and begins to die, but it happens very rarely.

How do fibroids shrink on their own? ›

Fibroids can also shrink when your hormone levels drop. This is common after menopause. Once a woman has passed through menopause, the amount of hormones in her body is much lower. This can cause the fibroids to shrink in size.

What does passing a fibroid feel like? ›

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.

What color is fibroids discharge? ›

Pink discharge between periods can indicate the presence of uterine fibroids. If you have a significant change in your vaginal discharge, especially if a strong foul smell is present, you should discuss this with your doctor as it can be a sign of an infection.

What vitamins shrink fibroids? ›

Some types of vitamins may also help reduce the growth and size of fibroids.
...
A number of vitamins may help ease these symptoms:
  • vitamin B-1.
  • vitamin B-6.
  • vitamin E.
  • magnesium.
  • omega-3 fatty acids.

Can fibroids come out as blood clots? ›

How large fibroids cause blood clots. However, when large fibroids in the uterus grow too big, they can sometimes compress the pelvic blood vessels that lead to the heart and lungs. The result is slower blood flow through these vessels. And that backed-up blood flow can lead to the formation of clots.

What size does a fibroid degenerate? ›

What Size Fibroids Should Be Removed? If large fibroids (those over 10 cm) are left untreated, they may grow even larger and potentially rupture or degenerate. Large fibroids can distort your uterus' shape and cause damage to surrounding organs, such as your bladder and bowel.

What teas shrink fibroids? ›

Green Tea. Green tea contains antioxidants called flavanols. This bioflavonoid in green tea may help reduce the size and number of fibroids.

What foods make fibroids worse? ›

Don't eat a diet full of processed foods, red meats, and high-fat dairy. Studies show that eating these foods can make your fibroids worse. The same goes for alcohol and caffeine.

Does Apple Cider shrink fibroids? ›

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Shrink Fibroids? Although apple cider vinegar is sometimes viewed as a cure-all, it does not shrink fibroids. It may, however, offer other health benefits, such as aiding in weight loss and helping to control diabetes.

Do fibroids smell? ›

The vaginal discharge can become chronic and foul-smelling, due to fibroid expulsion, and surgical evacuation of the uterus may be required. Post-embolisation syndrome may occur in a small number of patients.

What shrinks fibroids fast? ›

Studies suggest you can help prevent fibroid growth with calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. And if you already have fibroids, taking vitamins D and A supplements could help you shrink fibroids naturally. Finally, taking magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids could help relieve period pain.

What can I take to stop fibroid bleeding? ›

Tranexamic Acid reduces menstrual blood loss in 40% of women and improves quality of life. In women with fibroids, Tranexamic Acid has been shown to decrease heavy menstrual bleeding and cause necrosis of the fibroids, especially larger fibroids, which should improve its efficacy for women with fibroids.

Can fibroids burst and bleed? ›

On extremely rare occasions, fibroids can rupture and cause intra-abdominal bleeding and is an emergency that is handled surgically.

What triggers fibroid pain? ›

Fibroid pain may be mild or extreme, constant or just occasional. It can flare up during sexual intercourse, bowel movements, exercise, or your period. Pain often radiates down the leg. Discomfort may also result when an enlarged uterus puts pressure on adjacent organs, such as the bladder or bowel.

Which medicine is best for fibroids? ›

GnRH Agonists (Lupron)

GnRH agonists are a class of medications that temporarily shrink fibroids and stop heavy bleeding by blocking production of the female hormone, estrogen. Lupron is the most well known of these drugs.

Do fibroids go away with menopause? ›

During menopause, when hormone levels decrease, the fibroid isn't being provided enough hormones to grow, and in some cases, there aren't enough hormones for the fibroid to remain the same size. So, the fibroid begins to shrink and even disappear.

Can fibroids dissolve naturally? ›

Diet, “natural”, and non-prescription therapies don't shrink fibroids. Some reduce the risk of developing fibroids, but there is no information to suggest diet or herbal therapies shrink fibroids or are effective treatments for fibroids.

Is banana good for fibroid? ›

Bananas are a potassium-rich food frequently included in a fibroid diet. The potassium in bananas helps to balance blood pressure. As blood pressure increases so does the likelihood of uterine fibroid development. Thus, bananas and fibroids help you manage other aspects of your health by simply modifying your diet.

Can fibroids go away without surgery? ›

Certain procedures can destroy uterine fibroids without actually removing them through surgery. They include: Uterine artery embolization. Small particles (embolic agents) are injected into the arteries supplying the uterus, cutting off blood flow to fibroids, causing them to shrink and die.

Do fibroids hurt when shrinking? ›

Many women having fibroids don't show any symptoms, but some woman does show symptoms of fibroids which are influenced by the location, size, and a number of fibroids. A fibroid can cause severe pain when it outgrows its blood supply and begins to die, but it happens very rarely.

Do degenerating fibroids bleed? ›

Bleeding — In rare cases, fibroid degeneration may cause hemorrhaging or bleeding. This can occur during your normal menstrual cycle or between periods and is a telltale sign of fibroids.

How do fibroids shrink on their own? ›

Notably, many women experience fibroid growth during pregnancy. By age 50, 70 to 80 percent of women are affected. Conversely, fibroids tend to shrink when hormone levels are reduced, such as after childbirth or menopause. In some cases, they can shrink enough to alleviate your fibroid pain and discomfort.

Can fibroids come out as blood clots? ›

How large fibroids cause blood clots. However, when large fibroids in the uterus grow too big, they can sometimes compress the pelvic blood vessels that lead to the heart and lungs. The result is slower blood flow through these vessels. And that backed-up blood flow can lead to the formation of clots.

What color is fibroids discharge? ›

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.

Can a fibroid fall out? ›

Fibroid expulsion is a term that describes when uterine fibroids pass out of the body. Although this may sound unpleasant, our experts at USA Fibroid Centers want you to know that this is a rare occurrence that does not usually cause any serious issues.

What vitamins shrink fibroids? ›

Some types of vitamins may also help reduce the growth and size of fibroids.
...
A number of vitamins may help ease these symptoms:
  • vitamin B-1.
  • vitamin B-6.
  • vitamin E.
  • magnesium.
  • omega-3 fatty acids.

Do fibroids cause a watery discharge? ›

Fibroids themselves don't actually secrete any discharge; however, uterine fibroids can contribute to increased menstrual bleeding, bleeding between periods, large blood clots, watery discharge, or pink discharge.

Which medicine is best for fibroids? ›

GnRH Agonists (Lupron)

GnRH agonists are a class of medications that temporarily shrink fibroids and stop heavy bleeding by blocking production of the female hormone, estrogen. Lupron is the most well known of these drugs.

Do fibroids go away with menopause? ›

During menopause, when hormone levels decrease, the fibroid isn't being provided enough hormones to grow, and in some cases, there aren't enough hormones for the fibroid to remain the same size. So, the fibroid begins to shrink and even disappear.

Which food shrink fibroids? ›

A recent study found that eating plenty of fruits like apples and tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, could lower the risk of developing fibroids. And, eating healthier choices like organic fruits and vegetables and whole-grain foods could help improve your symptoms.

Can fibroids dissolve naturally? ›

Diet, “natural”, and non-prescription therapies don't shrink fibroids. Some reduce the risk of developing fibroids, but there is no information to suggest diet or herbal therapies shrink fibroids or are effective treatments for fibroids.

What foods trigger fibroids? ›

Refined Carbohydrates – White foods such as pasta, white bread, white rice, cakes, and cookies have been known to alter estrogen levels, causing fibroids to increase in size.

Do fibroids cause gas? ›

CAN UTERINE FIBROIDS CAUSE BLOATING? Yes, bloating can be caused by fibroids. Because Fibroids can appear as a single large benign tumour, or a cluster of small benign tumors, if a fibroid grows in size, it can cause the abdomen to bloat and become visibly swollen.

Do fibroids cause white discharge? ›

Fibroids don't usually cause vaginal discharge like the kind associated with a yeast infection. Instead, fibroids typically cause heavier-than-normal periods.

Can fibroids affect your heart? ›

Background: Uterine fibroids, the most common reproductive tract tumor in women, have been associated with hypertension and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Videos

1. Uterine Fibroids Symptoms, Signs, Causes and Treatment
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2. Sara Explains What It’s Like To Have Uterine Fibroids
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3. All Common Fibroid Symptoms And What You Should Know About Fibroid Pain
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4. Symptoms and Risk Factors for Fibroids
(MedStar Washington Hospital Center)
5. Common Symptoms of Fibroids
(The Fibroid Treatment Center: Specialists in Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE))
6. My Crazy Uterine Fibroid Surgery - 1 Year Update (Warning - Graphic Content)
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