Fibroids are benign growths that develop on or in the walls of the uterus; although their exact cause is unknown, there are several contributing factors, including a hormonal connection. While some cause no symptoms, others lead to bloating, pelvic pain, or heavy and long periods. "Uterine fibroids can grow to be the size of a grapefruit and actually make a woman look pregnant," says Dr. Goldberg. Bloating -- caused by the fibroid pushing the abdomen out -- is more likely than experiencing actual weight gain, which would only happen if a fibroid is very large (like a grapefruit). Your doctor can detect a fibroid in a pelvic exam, and an ultrasound will confirm the diagnosis.
The Treatment Most fibroids do not require care other than over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen, or hormone therapy to treat heavy periods. Larger fibroids that cause severe symptoms or that might interfere with your ability to get pregnant are treated with surgery to remove them. Lasers and fibroid embolization (cutting off the blood supply to the fibroid) are less invasive but may make it more difficult to become pregnant.