A submucosal fibroid is a non-cancerous tumor that develops in the inner layer of the uterus, which is the area just below the uterine lining, or endometrium. Like other types of fibroids, a submucosal fibroid may develop without causing symptoms. However, some of them grow large enough to cause discomfort and other problems. Some of these fibroids even develop stalk-like formations.
When submucosal fibroids grow to be large, they may cause a number of menstruation-related symptoms. For example, this type of fibroid may cause a woman to not only bleed heavily during her menstrual cycle but also to bleed during the time between menstrual periods. These symptoms occur because the fibroid upsets the uterine lining, increasing its surface area and resulting in more lining to shed during a menstrual cycle.
Some women with submucosal fibroids pass large clots that cause cramping pain as they are passed through the cervix, which is the neck of the uterus. Prolonged menstruation may also occur, lasting beyond the normal length of a period. For example, some women may bleed for a week or more past their normal periods. Women often experience severe uterine cramping as well, since the uterus treats the submucosal fibroid as a foreign object and attempts to use contractions to force it out. In some cases, the pain from these contractions has been compared to labor pains.
A woman with a submucosal fibroid may also experience problems when trying to have a baby. Depending on where the fibroid is located, it may make it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterine lining. These fibroids may even cause a woman to have a miscarriage. In fact, some submucosal fibroids can even cause a fallopian tube, the tube through which the egg travels to reach the uterus, to become blocked, interfering with the meeting of the egg and sperm. Women with this type of fibroid may struggle more with infertility than those with other types of fibroids.
Treatment of a submucosal fibroid depends on a number of factors, including its size, the symptoms it causes and whether or not the affected woman is of childbearing age and wishes to have children. Medical treatment may be used to provide temporary symptom relief. Surgery is usually the most effective treatment option for a woman with this type of fibroid. Surgical options include removing the uterus or just the fibroid. Instead of surgery, doctors may perform a procedure that blocks blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to die.