Uterine Fibroid Symptoms
The term uterine fibroids may be unfamiliar to you or you may be well acquainted with them and suffer each month from uterine fibroid symptoms.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous, benign growths that many women experience in their lifetime but not all women even know they have them. Uterine fibroids are often detected and diagnosed during a routine pelvic exam or with a pelvic ultrasound examination.
The symptoms of fibroids usually develop gradually and will worsen over time. Many women bleed heavily due to these fibroids, but often this isn’t recognized as being abnormal because the bleeding has gone on for a long time.
Thankfully, there are organizations such as The Free From Fibroids Foundation that are working to educate women about uterine fibroid symptoms and how best to treat them.
What Are Common Fibroid Symptoms?
You may think that what you are experiencing is normal but if you are living with any of these common uterine fibroid symptoms, you should contact your OB-gyn to be diagnosed or visit The Atlanta Fibroid Center. Common fibroid symptoms include:
1. Heavy monthly periods
Regular and often prolonged menstruation. Fibroids that are located close to the uterine lining are responsible for the heavy periods. This heavy menstrual bleeding is often accompanied by large blood clots and pain. ⇒ Learn more
2. Pelvic pain and pressure
The pelvic pain associated with fibroids is usually all across the pelvis but can be worse on one side if there is an accompanying dominant (i.e. larger than the other fibroids) fibroid on that same side. ⇒ Learn more
3. Enlarged abdomen
Numerous or large fibroids growing inside the uterus can cause an increase in the size of the abdomen without a large increase in body weight. This uterine enlargement is often described as a similar size enlargement due to pregnancy.
4. Enlarged uterus
Two of the most common causes of an enlarged uterus are uterine fibroids and adenomyosis. Women who have fibroids have been mistakenly believed to be pregnant because of this enlargement. ⇒ Learn more
5. Frequent need to urinate
The constant feeling of a full bladder, frequent trips to the bathroom, and even multiple times at night can occur because of uterine fibroids. The bladder is located in front of the uterus, therefore, anterior fibroids are responsible for the increased urinary frequency.
These fibroids are hard like rocks and they compress the bladder. This results in incomplete filling of the bladder and therefore, these women have to urinate much more frequently. They also will occasionally leak urine due to the increased pressure overwhelming the bladder sphincter which controls urine flow. Many women do not get enough sleep at night because this fibroid pressure on the bladder keeps waking them up. ⇒ Learn more
6. Constipation and bloating
Fibroids can cause constipation both directly and indirectly. The uterus lies directly in front of the distal end of the colon (i.e. rectosigmoid region). Fibroids that develop in the back of the uterus can press on the colon from the outside and can cause significant constipation.
Women that have fibroids that cause heavy menstrual bleeding can become anemic, which may require them to take iron supplements. A well-known side effect of iron supplements is constipation. In fact, this is so prevalent and significant that it is often the reason that many anemic women are noncompliant when prescribed iron. ⇒ Learn more
Less Common Uterine Fibroids Symptoms
7. Back pain
There are multiple areas of the uterus where fibroids can grow. Intramural fibroids are located in the wall of the uterus, submucosal fibroids are located in the inside lining of the uterus, and subserosal fibroids are located in the outside lining of the uterus.
Fibroids located in the back of the uterus can press on pelvic nerves to cause pain in the lower back which can radiate into the buttocks, hips, and even down the legs. ⇒ Learn more
8. Leg pain
Pain in the lower back due to fibroids can radiate into one or both legs. This sciatica pain is indistinguishable from the same pain caused by injury to the lower back and can mislead healthcare providers as to the source of the pain. ⇒ Learn more
9. Pain during sexual intercourse
Sometimes, women who have fibroids experience pain during sex. This pain is called dyspareunia. Dyspareunia due to fibroids is often due to fibroids located near the cervix.
Patients with fibroids often also have adenomyosis and dyspareunia is more commonly seen with adenomyosis than fibroids.
Changing positions, or using pillows, etc may help alleviate pain during intercourse but to completely remove this discomfort during sex, it is necessary to treat and eliminate the fibroids. ⇒ Learn more
Anemia is a common symptom due to symptomatic fibroids. It is caused by significant blood loss and can result in fatigue, lightheadedness, migraine-like headaches, and a condition called pica, i.e. cravings for ice or inedible things like chalk, dirt, or clay.
If you wear tampons and pads, two pads at a time, need to change pads less than every three hours, or go through more than eight pads per day, you are experiencing abnormal bleeding that can cause anemia. Anemia can lead to serious health problems and should not be ignored. ⇒ Learn more
Fibroids can affect your fertility. Fibroids can change the shape of your cervix and affect the number of sperm that can enter the uterus; they can also put pressure on the fallopian tubes and prevent conception. Fibroids can weaken the lining of the uterine cavity, decrease the blood supply, crowd a growing embryo, and cause a miscarriage. Fertility can also be affected by scars from a myomectomy (fibroid surgery). ⇒ Learn more
What Do I Do If I Am Experiencing Symptoms Of Fibroids?
Uterine fibroid symptoms can be very similar to the symptoms of many other women’s reproductive conditions and sometimes the presence of fibroids is overlooked.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of uterine fibroids you can:
- contact your OB-GYN for a diagnosis;
- contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center and set up a consultation.
If you go to the OB-gyn they will most likely do a pelvic exam and/or ultrasound and determine if you have fibroids. If so, depending on your symptoms they may recommend hormone therapy or a surgical procedure – myomectomy or hysterectomy. However, they often won’t mention an outstanding treatment option Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).
The UFE procedure is a treatment that does not require surgery and is 90% effective in eliminating fibroids. An OB-gyn does not perform UFE and may not tell you about this option. UFE is performed by an Interventional Radiologist like Dr. Lipman or Dr. Ermentrout of the Atlanta Fibroid Center. They are some of the most experienced UFE physicians in the country. You should do your research and learn about all of these options before making a decision.
MRI is the most accurate imaging available for diagnosing fibroids and is required for all patients seen at the Atlanta Fibroid Center. These images will be gone over with the patient by one of our doctors.
UFE has a 90% success rate in significantly improving or completely eliminating your fibroid symptoms without sacrificing your uterus or experiencing unpleasant side effects from hormone therapy.
Schedule an Appointment to Discuss Your Symptoms
If you have been diagnosed with fibroids or are experiencing symptoms of uterine fibroids, contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center. Patients with symptomatic fibroids are entitled to know all of their treatment options; not just the surgical ones that the gynecologist can perform.
We have the information you need to make an educated decision regarding uterine fibroid treatment. We know It can be overwhelming, but we are here to help you get the answers you are looking for.