A study in the Journal of Women’s Health in October of 2013 evaluated close to 1,000 women suffering with fibroids. They found that the average time to treatment for these women was over 3 ½ years and ~25% of them was over 5 years!
Why would someone suffering with fibroids wait so long to get treated? The answer is twofold. First, the vast majority of these women were only offered surgery (either myomectomy or hysterectomy) and they did not want a surgical option.
Do Fibroids Make You Tired? Fibroids And Tiredness
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), a non-surgical option was not offered to these patients. Second, a number of these women had been bleeding heavily for so long they did not recognize this bleeding to be abnormal. The prolonged loss of blood (and therefore, iron and hemoglobin, too) leads to a medical condition called anemia.
As is present in a number of medical conditions, there is a racial disparity with regards to anemia. Approximately 25% of African-American women have anemia whereas only 3.3% of white women do. Increased blood loss is the most common reason for anemia.
Uterine fibroids are the most common cause of heavy menstrual bleeding and fibroids are 3x more common in African-American women than their Caucasian counterparts. This accounts for a lot of the disparity, but not all. There is also an educational piece that one needs to know what “too heavy” really is.
A woman’s period is clearly too heavy when she changes pads more frequently than every 3 hours, more than 8 pads in a day, needs more than one pad at a time, reports episodes of blood “flooding”/”gushing” out, accidents in blood, or passes clots.
Many of our patients report fatigue and a significant percentage of them feel it is due to aging, although these patients are often in their late thirties or forties! Chronic fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. The problem is that being tired is often considered a normal part of every day life.
Uterine Fibroids And Stress
Speaking about the symptoms of uterine fibroids, it is necessary to pay attention to the presence of disorders of the cardiovascular system, which are caused by the presence of overt or latent anemia, i.e. a decrease in hemoglobin in the blood (due to a large blood loss with fibroids).
Because of this, the patient notices the appearance of chronic fatigue syndrome, decreased mood and performance, the appearance of constant stress.
How to reduce fatigue with fibroids:
– Walks in the open air;
– Proper nutrition with lots of fruits and vegetables;
– Drinking plenty of water;
– Refusal of alcohol and smoking;
– Regular exercise.
However, if fibroids are the cause of your fatigue, only their complete treatment will allow you to return to normal life without stress.
At the Atlanta Fibroid Center, we will perform a thorough history of the patient’s menstrual pattern, as well as investigating whether or not the patient has the clinical manifestations of anemia which typically include at least 3 of the following:
- Marked fatigue
- Episodes of lightheadedness/dizziness
- Migraine-like headaches
- “Brain fog” (decreased cognitive function)
- Chewing/craving ice
- Impaired work performance/depression
- Thinning hair/hair loss
We will also check a patient’s Hemoglobin (Hgb) level. A mild anemia is seen between 11-12g/dL. Moderate anemia 8-10.9g/dL and severe anemia is a Hgb level <8g/dL.
To correct a patient’s anemia you can’t just replace the iron that is lost. This would be analogous to bailing water from a canoe that suddenly has a small hole in the bottom. That may keep you afloat for a little while, but ultimately, you’re going to need to fix the root problem. The “fix” for fibroids for far too long has been surgical, but surgery is just not necessary to fix uterine fibroids and the heavy periods and profound anemia that often go with it.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) has transformed the lives of our patients suffering with uterine fibroids. It corrects the anemia and restores the energy level of patients within three months of the procedure.
If your fatigue is due to fibroids, please call 770-953-2600 to make an appointment. If you know someone suffering with fibroids, please share this information with them. #DontLoseUrU