Unless a woman has symptoms, it’s likely she does not know she has uterine fibroids.
In some cases, though, health care providers find fibroids during a routine gynecological exam. During this exam, the health care provider checks the size of your uterus by putting two fingers of one hand into the vagina while using the other hand to press lightly on your abdomen. If you have fibroids, your uterus may feel larger than normal, or it may feel irregularly shaped.
The size of the fibroids does not seem to be related to the severity of symptoms, so even small fibroids may cause considerable symptoms and heavy periods. If you have symptoms but your health care provider cannot feel any fibroids during a manual examination, he or she may use one or more types of imaging technology—machines that create a picture of the inside of your body—to diagnose uterine fibroids.
Some common types of imaging technology are:
- Ultrasound, which uses sound waves to form the picture
- Saline infusion sonography, which uses an injection of salt solution into the uterus to help create the ultrasound image
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses magnets and radio waves to create the picture
- X-rays, which use a form of electromagnetic radiation to “see” into the body
- Computed tomography (CT) or computer-assisted tomography (also called a CAT scan), which scans the body with X-rays from many angles to create a more complete picture