Having to run to the bathroom frequently can be embarrassing, and frustrating and can prevent you from getting an adequate amount of sleep during the night. Since frequent urination is not likely to come up in conversation with friends or family, women suffer silently and often do not “compare” notes with others. Many people think that natural aging is the cause of all these extra trips to the restroom, but it could be a symptom due to uterine fibroids.
Quick Overview of Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that can grow in and around a woman’s uterus. They can grow singularly or in clusters and they vary in size from that of a small green pea to as large as a pumpkin. There is no known cause of fibroids, but there are risk factors and conditions in which fibroids thrive.
Depending on where they are located, their type, and their size, uterine myomas can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms. The most common fibroid symptom is heavy or prolonged bleeding during menstruation, but there are lesser-known symptoms that include pressure on the bladder, frequent urination, waking up at night repeatedly to urinate, and even urinary leaking.
Types of Fibroids
- Intramural fibroids are the most common type of fibroid. They are located in the uterine muscle which makes up most of the uterus. If large, they can cause both bleeding and bulk-related symptoms which include increased urinary frequency.
- Subserosal fibroids are found growing along the thin outer covering of the uterus. This type of fibroid only causes bulk-related symptoms.
- Submucosal fibroids are present along the uterine lining and often cause heavy bleeding but not urinary symptoms.
How Can Fibroids Affect Your Bladder?
Fibroids can cause frequent urination and other bladder issues because the uterus is located directly behind the bladder and partially supports it structurally. Myomas that are growing on the front portion of the uterus, particularly subserosal myomas, can exert pressure on the bladder.
Large fibroids can also change the shape of the uterus causing it to press up against the bladder, reducing its capacity, so it is unable to hold its normal volume. As a result, your bladder can not store as much urine which causes you to run to the bathroom to pee more frequently. This is especially bothersome at night because it prevents women from getting the adequate amount of sleep they need which can also affect the next day’s productivity.
Fibroids Can Cause Urinary Incontinence
Another issue that fibroids can create is incontinence which is the leakage of urine that cannot be controlled. This can be triggered by the sudden contraction of the abdominal muscles caused by laughing, sneezing, or coughing. Large fibroids pressing on the bladder can cause enough pressure to create chronic urinary incontinence.
A study of women who were diagnosed with fibroids reported that 60% of the women experienced frequent urination during the day and 47% of the participants suffered frequent urination that disturbed their sleep because of fibroids pressing on the bladder. Additionally, 36% of the women reported urinary incontinence and 35% said they experienced difficulty fully emptying their bladder.
Occasionally, when there is a very large fibroid (>10cm), it can exert pressure and obstruct the ureter which transports urine to the bladder from the kidneys. This blockage is called hydronephrosis and can damage the function of the kidney.
How Do You Find out If Fibroids Are Causing Urinary Incontinence?
There are many causes of increased urinary frequency including medical conditions, e.g. diabetes, urinary tract infection, medications, e.g. diuretics often used for high blood pressure, or just drinking a lot of liquids. However, as noted earlier, fibroids too can cause increased urinary frequency.
Increased urinary frequency due to fibroids is often associated with other bulk-related symptoms, e.g. pelvic pain and/or pressure in the lower abdomen, lower back pain, as well as heavy uterine bleeding. A physical examination with a healthcare provider can often detect leiomyomas that are large enough to enlarge the uterus and compress the adjacent bladder. This is often confirmed by imaging, i.e. either a pelvic ultrasound or pelvic MRI.
Treatment for Fibroids Pressing on the Bladder
No one should have to try to live their life between trips to the bathroom! Frequent urination and urinary incontinence can be embarrassing, stressful, exhausting, and can affect a woman’s quality of life.
The good news is that if frequent urination and incontinence are the results of uterine fibroids, there is a non-surgical treatment called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) that can help get your quality of life back!
UFE Can Eliminate Fibroid Tumors in 45 Min Without Surgery
The UFE procedure is performed by an Interventional Radiologist like Drs. Lipman and Ermentrout of the Atlanta Fibroid Center. Dr. Lipman and Dr. Ermentrout are among the leading experts in non-surgical fibroid treatment in the United States and have performed over 9,000 UFE procedures during the past 25 years.
In their hands, uterine fibroid embolization is a 30-45 minute non-surgical outpatient procedure that cuts off the blood flow to the fibroids so they can no longer survive. As the fibroids die, they soften and shrink. This causes a significant change in the density, i.e. hard rock to a floppy bag of water, and the size of the fibroid. The result is the fibroid can no longer exert the same force on the bladder and now the bladder can fill to its capacity. This stops the increased urinary frequency and any corresponding urinary leaking.
The recovery from UFE is much shorter than recovering from surgical fibroid removal. UFE patients are discharged home with only a bandaid and are typically back to work between 5-7 days.
Stop Frequent Urination Due to Fibroids
At Atlanta Fibroid Center we do our best to increase awareness among women about the nature of uterine fibroids and available treatment options. We often see women diagnosed with uterine fibroids, who are offered only surgical treatments, such as a hysterectomy or a myomectomy. It’s important to ask for a second opinion and understand all your treatment options, including nonsurgical uterine fibroid embolization or UFE.
Call us today to set up a consultation. We would love to provide you with more information and answer your questions about uterine fibroid embolization. It is time to stop putting up with frequent urination caused by fibroids. Contact us today!