What Are Calcified Fibroids?

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Fibroids, also known as leiomyomas or myomas, are tumors or growths that form in or on the uterus. They are the most common noncancerous tumors that appear during childbearing age for people who have a uterus.

As fibroids age, they begin to degenerate. Usually, this will cause some calcification, or hardening, on the edges of the fibroid. But in some cases, the entire fibroid may calcify, turning it into a hard mass.

Illustration of female reproduction system with highlighted organ

mi-viri / iStock / Getty Images

Calcified Fibroids Symptoms

Some people with fibroids may not experience any symptoms at all. Others' symptoms are more pronounced. The most common symptoms of fibroids are:

  • Changes in your menstrual cycle
  • Longer, more frequent, or heavy menstrual periods
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Severe menstrual cramps
  • Anemia from blood loss
  • Pain during sex
  • A dull, heavy, and aching pain in the back
  • Difficulty urinating, or frequent urination
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Difficult bowel movements
  • Enlarged uterus and abdomen
  • Miscarriage
  • Infertility

You may not experience any of these symptoms before being diagnosed with a calcified fibroid, or you may experience some or all of them.

Calcified fibroids may cause pain in the abdomen. They can also cause a vaginal prolapse, in which the vagina becomes obstructed.

Causes

Calcified fibroids are caused by a degeneration of uterine fibroids that makes them harden, or calcify. Though the exact cause of uterine fibroids is not fully known, there are hypotheses about what can make you more likely to develop them:

  • Race: Blacks are more prone to develop uterine fibroids than other racial groups.
  • Age: With age, the chance of having fibroids increases. The greatest incidence is between ages 30 and 40.
  • Onset of menses: Starting your period earlier in life can increase your risk of developing fibroids.
  • Pregnancy: Though the mechanism is not fully known, there is evidence that pregnancy has a protective effect on the uterus. Giving birth has been shown to lower the risk of fibroids. The risk lowers with each subsequent birth.
  • Caffeine and alcohol intake: Increased consumption of alcohol and caffeine, either separately or concurrently, has been shown to increase the risk of developing fibroids.
  • Obesity: Risk is increased if a person is over 20% of healthy body weight.

Calcified fibroids most often form in people who are postmenopausal. However, they can occur at any point in time. Fibroids occur in 20%–40% of people with a uterus during their reproductive years. These tumors form out of the smooth muscle cells in the uterus and can appear as a single fibroid or in multiples.

Though it is not clearly known why fibroids form, evidence suggests that the hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate the growth of these tumors. They rarely appear before the start of menstruation and often subside after menopause.

Diagnosis

Unless you have symptoms, you may not know that you have fibroids.

Your doctor may discover a fibroid during a routine pelvic exam that checks the size and shape of your uterus. Your doctor will usually confirm the findings with an ultrasound. In this case, your doctor may take a conservative approach and continue to observe the fibroids over time.

If you have symptoms and your doctor suspects you have fibroids but cannot feel any fibroids upon examination, you may be asked to have imaging tests performed to obtain a clear picture of the uterus.

Calcified masses can be found using the following imaging techniques:

  • Ultrasound
  • Saline infusion sonography, in which a salt solution is injected into the uterus to help create the ultrasound image
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • X-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan

If fibroids are detected, your doctor will discuss a treatment plan with you.

Treatment

Typically, the treatment for fibroids has been to manage the symptoms of pain and bleeding through pain relievers and prescription medications. If managing the symptoms does not provide relief, you may need to treat the fibroids themselves. 

The definitive treatment to ensure fibroids do not return is a complete hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus. However, this results in infertility and may cause you to hesitate if you wish to retain your fertility.

The good news is that advances in medicine and surgical techniques have led to new treatments.

One such medical treatment uses oral medications known as selective progesterone receptor modulators (SPRMs) and includes mifepristone, ulipristal acetate, and asoprisnil. These have been shown to shrink fibroids, control heavy menstrual bleeding, and correct anemia.

Depending on the size and location of the fibroid, myomectomy, or the surgical removal of the fibroid itself but not the entire uterus, can be used to treat fibroids. This surgery is typically done by laparoscopy, meaning small incisions are made and surgical instruments are inserted to remove the fibroid.

Uterine artery embolization (UAE) and high-frequency MR-guided focused ultrasound surgery (sometimes referred to as MRgFUS) are two nonsurgical interventions that can prevent the fibroids from continuing to grow. They can even destroy fibroids so they no longer cause symptoms.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRH) have also been used in treatment. These prescription drugs cause menopausal symptoms that can shrink the fibroids but also may cause osteoporosis or infertility.

In the case of calcified fibroids that have caused prolapse (when pelvic floor muscles can no longer support the uterus), a hysterectomy may be the best option.

Prognosis

Fibroids are common, and research is ongoing into the causes and best treatments. If you have fibroids and do not have symptoms, your doctor may decide to monitor you over time.

If your fibroids have calcified, you may require surgery or another treatment method. While some fibroid treatments and fibroids themselves can cause infertility, most calcification of fibroids occurs after menopause, when a person is no longer fertile.

Coping

Living with calcified fibroids can be difficult if they are causing symptoms. Having chronic pain can affect your mental state and interfere with your daily life. Talking to your doctor about any concerns is best.

If you are worried about your fertility, know that there is much focus on surgical alternatives to treating fibroids. There are more options now than there ever have been.

While none of this is easy, you can rest assured that doctors and scientists are taking note of the significant effects fibroids can have on a person's quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do you get rid of calcified fibroids?

Calcified fibroids can be removed through hysterectomy or myomectomy, two surgical procedures.    

Can you dissolve calcified fibroids with magnesium?

While magnesium has shown promise to help many gynecological conditions, there is no concrete evidence that calcified fibroids can be dissolved with magnesium.   

Why do fibroids become calcified?

Fibroids become calcified as they degenerate. When the fibroid shrinks and degenerates, it loses blood supply and begins to harden. Calcification takes place in the end stages of a fibroid’s life cycle.

Summary

Calcified fibroids are noncancerous uterine tumors that have degenerated. Fibroids usually calcify at the end of their life cycle. This typically occurs after menopause. They may cause pain and other symptoms. They can be treated with drugs, nonsurgical procedures, or surgery.

A Word From Verywell

Many fibroids go unnoticed. It may not be until you have gone through menopause and your fibroids have calcified that you develop symptoms. If you experience increased abdominal or pelvic pain at any time talk to your doctor. You may need to treat or remove the calcified fibroids.

If you were diagnosed with fibroids during your childbearing years, continue following your doctor’s advice and always talk to your doctor about new symptoms or symptoms that get worse. Your health is important. It's crucial to not ignore signs that something is wrong.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Khan AT, Shehmar M, Gupta JK. Uterine fibroids: current perspectivesInt J Womens Health. 2014;6:95-114. doi:10.2147/IJWH.S51083

  2. Pal S, Mondal S, Mondal PK, Raychaudhuri G, Pradhan R, Banerjee S. Severely calcified leiomyoma of broad ligament in a postmenopausal woman: Report of a rare caseJ Midlife Health. 2016;7(3):147-149. doi:10.4103/0976-7800.191015

  3. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Uterine fibroids. Updated June, 2020.

  4. Samal SK, Rathod S, Anadraj R. An unusual presentation of a severely calcified subserous leiomyoma in a postmenopausal woman: a case report, Int J Reprod Contracept Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Jun;3(2):463-465 doi:10.5455/2320-1770.ijrcog20140638

  5. Cleveland Clinic. Uterine fibroids. Updated August 24, 2020.

  6. Simms-Stewart D, Fletcher H. Counselling patients with uterine fibroids: a review of the management and complicationsObstet Gynecol Int. 2012;2012:539365. doi:10.1155/2012/539365

  7. National Institute Child Health and Human Development. How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?. Updated November 2, 2018.

  8. Murji A, Whitaker L, Chow TL, Sobel ML. Selective progesterone receptor modulators (SPRMs) for uterine fibroids. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Apr 26;4(4):CD010770. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010770.pub2

  9. Williams ARW. Uterine fibroids - what's new?F1000Res. 2017;6:2109. doi:10.12688/f1000research.12172.1

  10. Tonick S, Muneyyirci-Delale O. Magnesium in women’s health and gynecology. Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2016;06(05):325-333. doi:10.4236/ojog.2016.65041

Additional Reading
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Uterine fibroids. Updated 2021.