How Do You Know if You Have Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or on the uterus. They are surprisingly common; up to 80% of women develop them by the age of 50. If you are wondering how to tell if you have fibroids, you may want to be on the lookout for the following painful, uncomfortable, and inconvenient symptoms.
Uterine fibroid symptoms include:
- Heavy and prolonged menstruation between or during your periods
- Anemia, which can lead to fatigue
- Pain during intercourse
- Frequent urination
- Constipation and/or bloating
- Pain in your pelvis or lower back
- Increased menstrual cramping
- Stomach swelling
Although many women with fibroids do not experience any symptoms at all, others are severely impacted. For instance, heavy periods, intense cramps, and anemia-induced fatigue can cause you to miss work, cancel social engagements, and avoid intimate encounters. Like frequent urination and digestive issues, other symptoms can result in the desire to stay close to home.
Uterine fibroids can also impact your mental health. Visible symptoms like stomach swelling or bleeding through clothing can lead to embarrassing situations and self-esteem issues. When combined, all of your symptoms may add up to feelings of sadness, and depression.
If this sounds all too familiar, you may indeed have uterine fibroids. That said, you should be aware that some fibroid symptoms overlap with those of other conditions of the reproductive tract. That’s why it is essential to receive an accurate medical diagnosis. In rare cases, your symptoms may be signs of a more severe or even life-threatening health issue.
How Do You Get Fibroids?
Many patients wonder how and why they developed fibroids in the first place. Although this is not entirely understood, it is widely believed that a combination of genetics, hormones, lifestyle influences, and other factors are involved.
In general, you are considered at increased risk for developing fibroids if you are a woman of childbearing age. If you have a close family member with fibroids, you are also more likely to get them. Women who began menstruation at an early age are more likely to be affected. Additionally, women of African-American descent are disproportionately impacted by both fibroid development and symptom severity.
Lifestyle factors that can potentially influence fibroid growth include:
- Frequently eating red meat
- Not eating enough fruits and vegetables
- Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
- Not drinking enough water
Underlying health conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, and vitamin D deficiency may also play a role.
Causes of Fibroids
In addition to the above risk factors, several potential causes of fibroids have been identified. These include:
- Genetic changes
- Hormones like estrogen and progesterone
- Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF)
- A substance called Extracellular Matrix (ECM)
Can You Feel Fibroids?
Fibroids are often initially detected by touch during a routine pelvic exam. Depending on a fibroid’s size and location, it can distort your uterus’ shape and/or cause it to expand in size.
Although you probably won’t be able to identify the fibroid’s exact location on your own, you may be able to feel a misshapen or swollen uterus externally. An enlarged uterus can affect daily movements like bending over or getting out of bed. You may also notice that your clothing fits differently as your fibroids grow.
Diagnosing Uterine Fibroids
You may still be wondering, Do I have fibroids? Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure is to consult a medical professional. As mentioned above, a fibroid specialist will likely perform a pelvic examination to detect uterine fibroids. They will also ask about your symptoms, so we suggest documenting your periods, cramps, and other issues beforehand.
When fibroids are suspected, your specialist will likely order medical imaging, such as an ultrasound or MRI exam. If fibroids are diagnosed based on the imaging, these exams can also provide accurate information on fibroid size, location, and the number of growths. At this point, you can begin to explore your treatment options.
If You’re Unsure About Whether You Have Fibroids, Contact USA Fibroid Centers!
If you are experiencing issues like heavy periods and severe cramps that impact your daily activities, it is probably time to figure out what’s going on. If you believe you may have uterine fibroids, we recommend visiting a fibroid specialist to explore your full range of treatment options.
Although many individuals think that having a hysterectomy –– the complete surgical removal of the uterus –– is their only available treatment, that isn’t true. A nonsurgical option exists that can alleviate your fibroid pain and discomfort.
At USA Fibroid Centers, we specialize in performing a minimally-invasive, outpatient alternative called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UFE can resolve your symptoms, leave your uterus intact, and quickly get you back to normal daily activities. It does not require a hospital stay, and most women fully recover within one to two weeks.
When you are ready to take your first step towards recovery, we encourage you to schedule an initial consultation with one of our world-class experts. For your safety and convenience, we offer in-person or telemedicine visits. We look forward to helping you take control of your health!