Fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomas, are non-cancerous growths that develop in the uterus. They are a common gynecological condition, affecting many women during their reproductive years. While fibroid tumors can cause a range of symptoms, one lesser-known symptom is experiencing discharge before the period. Today, we are going to discuss a number of possible factors that may contribute to a woman experiencing a lot of discharge before their period or between periods.
The Normal Menstrual Cycle
Before delving into the connection between fibroids and discharge before the period, let’s first understand the normal menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle is a monthly hormonal process that prepares the body for pregnancy. It typically lasts about 28 days, although it can vary from person to person. During the menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus thickens in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized egg. If fertilization does not occur, the lining of the uterus is shed in the form of menstrual bleeding.
How Can Fibroids Impact The Menstrual Cycle?
Fibroids can disrupt the normal hormonal balance in the uterus, leading to various changes in the menstrual cycle. Depending on their size, location, and number, fibroids can cause a range of symptoms, including heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, frequent urination, and changes in the pattern of menstrual bleeding.
One symptom that some women with fibroids may experience is discharge before their period. This discharge can vary in color, consistency, and amount. Some women experience a watery discharge before their period that is clear or cloudy, and it may be accompanied by a mild odor. The discharge may be a result of the fibroids interfering with the normal menstrual flow.
Fibroids can cause an increase in the surface area of the uterus, which may result in more endometrial tissue being shed during menstruation. This increased shedding of the endometrial lining can lead to the release of more cervical mucus or what may seem like a lot of discharge before their period. Additionally, the discharge might be a result of vaginal secretions increasing due to the inflammation that fibroids cause.
It’s important to note that not all women with fibroids will experience discharge before their period. Fibroids can have varying effects on the menstrual cycle, and some women may not notice any changes in their discharge. However, for those who do experience this symptom, it can be bothersome, inconvenient, or embarrassing.
What Other Conditions Can Cause Discharge Before Your Period?
The amount and consistency of vaginal discharge can vary throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle, including in the days leading up to her period. Here are some other possible reasons a woman may experience a lot of clear or white discharge before her period:
- Clear, stretchy discharge resembling raw egg whites is often a sign of ovulation, which occurs approximately two weeks before menstruation. During ovulation, cervical mucus turns into a thinner, slippery fluid which can appear as this clear discharge.
- Normal hormonal changes
- Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can affect the consistency and color of vaginal discharge. Clear discharge may be more prominent during certain phases of the menstrual cycle, particularly in the days leading up to menstruation, or there may be an increase in the production of estrogen, which can result in a thicker, whiter discharge.
- Normal vaginal flora
- The vagina has its own ecosystem of bacteria and yeast, which can produce clear or whitish discharge as a normal part of the body’s self-cleaning process. This discharge may increase in volume before menstruation due to hormonal changes. This is typically not a cause for concern unless accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, burning, or a foul odor.
- Delayed menstruation
- If a woman’s period is delayed, she may experience an increase in white discharge as the normal vaginal discharge continues to be produced in preparation for menstruation, even if the period hasn’t started yet.
- In some cases, white or off-white discharge before menstruation may be a sign of an infection, such as a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. If the discharge is accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, burning, an unusual odor, or discomfort, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider for further evaluation and appropriate treatment.
Menstrual cycles and vaginal discharge can vary greatly from person to person, and what is normal for one person may not be the same for another. If you have concerns about your menstrual cycle or vaginal discharge, it’s always best to consult a healthcare provider for proper evaluation and guidance.
Diagnosis and Management Of Fibroids
If you suspect that you have fibroids or are experiencing abnormal discharge before your period, it’s important to see your doctor for an evaluation. Your physician or OB-GYN may perform a pelvic exam or an ultrasound to confirm the presence of fibroids. An MRI is the best imaging test to use to diagnose fibroids because the image quality is much higher and it can identify more details about the fibroids, such as their size and location.
In some cases, further diagnostic tests may be needed to rule out other conditions that could be causing the discharge.
The management of fibroids and associated discharge depends on the severity of symptoms, the size and location of the fibroids, and the woman’s desire for future fertility. Treatment options commonly offered to women with fibroids by their OB-GYN include:
- Watchful waiting: If fibroids are small and not causing significant symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend monitoring them and managing symptoms with over-the-counter pain medications;
- Medications: Certain medications, such as hormonal contraceptives or gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, may be prescribed to help manage heavy menstrual bleeding and other symptoms associated with fibroids;
- Lifestyle changes: Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management, may help manage symptoms related to fibroid tumors;
- Myomectomy: surgery to remove fibroid tumors one by one. This surgery often compromises the integrity of the uterus, creating the need for a C-section in the event of a future pregnancy. In addition, a myomectomy cannot always address fibroids in all locations or permanently, and many women must undergo an additional surgery within 5 years;
- Surgical Hysterectomy: In severe cases or when fertility is not a concern, a hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the uterus, may be recommended. Most of the 600,000 hysterectomies that are performed each year in the United States are due to fibroids and are not medically necessary.
Is There Any Treatment For Fibroids That Really Works And Does Not Require Surgery?
Yes, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical procedure that is done in the office of an interventional radiologist who specializes in the procedure and not by an OB-GYN.
Many women never learn about this significantly less invasive option because their OB-GYN does not offer this treatment and there are a limited number of specialists that have the experience to perform it. Dr. John Lipman and Dr. Ermentrout with the Atlanta Fibroid Center have decades of experience with the UFE procedure and have assisted countless women, both local and those who have traveled long distances for their expertise, to become fibroid free.
Fibroids need a blood supply to survive, and the UFE procedure effectively cuts off this blood supply, causing every fibroid to shrink or die. Their size, type, or location is not an issue, and they are eliminated permanently without surgery.
UFE is an outpatient procedure that takes only about 45 minutes, and the patient leaves the Atlanta Fibroid Center with only a bandaid. Most patients are back to their normal routine within a week or less.
If you suspect that you might have fibroids, set up a consultation with Dr. Lipman or Dr. Ermentrout at the Atlanta Fibroid Center today to learn more about UFE and how it can give you your life back.