Have you felt a particular pain in your pelvis or lower back, or experienced heavy or prolonged menstruation even when you don’t have your period? You could be experiencing signs of uterine fibroids. Despite the prevalence of these common, non-cancerous tumors, only about half of women believe they’re at risk. The reality is 33% of women develop these benign tumors that cause fibroid symptoms during their childbearing years, and by age 50, that number increases to as high as 80%. 1
Because fibroid symptoms can be similar to those of other female health conditions, we recommend discussing your symptoms with your doctor. If you are diagnosed with uterine fibroids, it may be good to visit a fibroid specialist and learn about your full range of treatment options.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibroids?
Many women experience different signs and symptoms. However, it’s important to know what to look for in case you do start experiencing symptoms, such as:
- 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
Our symptom checker may be helpful if you are not sure if you are suffering from fibroid symptoms:
Fibroid symptoms can create other problems. For example, many patients with fibroids also deal with poor sleep from frequent urination or pressure on their bladder. Heavy menstruation can lead to anemia which causes fatigue and a general lack of energy.
All of these uterine fibroid symptoms can impact your social life, family interactions, work, and even your sex life. This can lead to depression and low self-confidence.
UTERINE FIBROIDS BLEEDING
Heavy or irregular bleeding is the most common of all signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids. If you are bleeding outside of your menstrual cycle, your flow is heavier or longer than normal, or you are experiencing bleeding after menopause, your physician should evaluate you for uterine fibroids.
When fibroids increase the surface area of your uterine lining, excess bleeding can occur. Some types of fibroids may cause more bleeding than others. Fibroids can also decrease the uterus’ ability to stop bleeding, compounding the problem. In some cases, excessive blood loss from symptoms of fibroids can lead to anemia and fatigue.
PAIN AFTER SEX OR DURING
While uterine fibroids can cause a variety of symptoms, pain during sex is perhaps the least discussed. Along with affecting your physical well-being, pain during intercourse may impact your emotional relationships. Other symptoms of fibroids can also interfere with your sexual health by causing pelvic pain, bleeding after sex, and lower libido from hormonal imbalances.
Remember that pain during intercourse can result from several different conditions and is not necessarily related to uterine fibroids. We encourage you to discuss this topic with your doctor to determine the cause of your discomfort.
If you’ve ever experienced an urgent or frequent need to urinate, you already know it’s an unpleasant and stressful feeling. Unfortunately, this is a common symptom of uterine fibroids. Frequent urination may cause you to cancel plans, plan your days around finding the nearest restroom, and constantly wake you up at night to go to the bathroom, ultimately impacting your quality of sleep.
As fibroids grow, they can expand the uterus, compressing the bladder, reducing its capacity. While all subtypes of fibroids can potentially put pressure on the bladder, subserosal fibroids — which grow outside the uterus — are the most likely to. In some cases, fibroids can also lead to urinary retention and/or incontinence.
It’s no surprise that an enlarged uterus is associated primarily with pregnancy — especially during the childbearing years. However, there are a variety of other medical conditions which can also cause the uterus to expand.
Uterine fibroids are one potential explanation, particularly when large or existing in numbers. An enlarged uterus and fibroids can cause weight gain and abdominal bloating. In extreme cases, a swollen uterus can make bending down or comfortably moving into certain positions difficult.
Uterine fibroids can be painful, although experiencing pain is most common with larger fibroids. Pelvic pain can vary in intensity and frequency, ranging from mild and occasional to severe and chronic. Pain can occur in other areas, too, including the back, hips, and legs. Uterine fibroid pain can be severe enough to interfere with work, social activities, exercising, and sexual intercourse. Left untreated, uterine fibroid pain can lead to a loss of self-confidence and even depression.
LOWER BACK PAIN
Fibroids can cause pain in your lower back. The fibroids may press against the kidneys as they grow, preventing them from emptying. This can result in pain in the back. If a fibroid presses on the sciatic nerve, it can also cause pain in your lower back.
Fibroids can cause the uterus to expand as they grow. You may develop a stomach bulge similar to being pregnant. You may first notice an issue if your clothes don’t fit as comfortably but attribute it to weight gain if you haven’t been diagnosed with fibroids.
Emotional Symptoms of Fibroids
Many individuals suffering from the painful, uncomfortable, and inconvenient physical effects of fibroids also experience difficult, undesirable, and sometimes debilitating emotional symptoms. While the emotional effects of fibroids can vary, they may include:
NEGATIVE BODY IMAGE AND POOR SELF-ESTEEM
Many women, even those without fibroids, understand first-hand how bloating and weight gain –– both potential uterine fibroid symptoms –– can negatively impact body image and self-esteem. This can occur even if these physical symptoms are not visible to others. For instance, feeling heavier or less agile can affect your sense of self, even if no one else notices outward changes.
Women with an enlarged abdomen may be most at risk for potential issues with a negative body image. Some women report that their clothing fits differently after developing fibroids. Others share that they no longer feel as attractive and/or are avoiding intimate situations as a result. In extreme cases, an enlarged abdomen due to fibroids can cause a woman to appear pregnant –– a situation especially distressing for anyone dealing with fertility issues.
FEAR, STRESS, AND ANXIETY
Women with fibroids often report high levels of concern about many areas of their lives –– including family, relationships, and career. Such concerns tend to involve issues like:
- Fear over potential fertility issues or the impact of fibroids on a growing fetus
- How pain during sex may affect personal relationships
- Embarrassment over bleeding through clothing in public
- Anxiety about suddenly needing a bathroom when there isn’t one nearby
- Stress over missing work and how this may affect future career opportunities
SADNESS AND DEPRESSION
Many also experience feelings of sadness –– often over the loss of their ability to go about normal daily activities like work, exercise, social engagements, and sexual relations. In severe cases, such feelings can become overwhelming and ultimately result in depression. Signs of depression can include changes in sleep, appetite, energy levels, concentration, and daily behavior.
To help manage the emotional effects of fibroids, we recommend that you:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet
- Use relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga
- Get enough sleep
- Prioritize your emotional health by not over-scheduling
- Discuss your feelings with others
- Spend quality time with loved ones
- Look into treating the root cause of these issues: your fibroids
See more: Treatment for Uterine Fibroids
Pregnant with Fibroid Symptoms
If you become pregnant with fibroids, you may experience an increase in symptoms. The increase in hormones may cause the fibroids to grow during pregnancy. Fibroids that had no symptoms may develop a range of issues, such as heavy bleeding, painful cramps and fatigue. Doctors will want to avoid fibroid treatment during pregnancy if possible, but they will monitor you closely.
Different Types of Fibroids
If the signs and symptoms of fibroids impact your career, social life, personal relationships, or self-esteem, it’s probably time to look into proper diagnosis and treatment. We have good news if you’ve been avoiding the doctor because you fear surgery.
At USA Fibroid Centers, our fibroid specialists perform a non-surgical, outpatient procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UFE can shrink your fibroids and bring relief to painful, uncomfortable, and inconvenient fibroid symptoms.
Your uterine fibroid symptoms can vary based on the number of fibroids you have, the type, location, and size. Four different types of fibroids can develop:
- Intramural fibroids
- Subserosal fibroids
- Pedunculated fibroids
- Submucosal fibroids
Subserosal fibroids have different symptoms than the other types because they grow on the outside of the uterus instead of inside. Rather than impacting the uterus itself as much, they can affect other organs. You may notice a fullness in your abdomen, bloating, cramping or pain in the abdomen, frequent need to urinate, and constipation.
The other types of fibroids grow within the uterus. For instance, intramural fibroids grow in the uterine muscles. They often grow in clusters and may be asymptomatic. When you have symptoms with this type of fibroid, you may experience pain in the pelvic and lower back areas, heavy bleeding, and bleeding between periods. You may feel pressure on the bladder or bowels if the fibroids grow larger. You can also develop a protruding abdomen, making you look pregnant or have gained weight.
Pedunculated fibroids are growths that are attached by a thin stalk. They may develop on the inside or outside of the uterus. This type of fibroid may cause pain when the fibroid rotates on the stalk.
Submucosal fibroids develop in the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. They are the type most likely to cause increased menstrual bleeding.
If you’re experiencing any debilitating signs and symptoms of fibroids, there is hope. USA Fibroid Centers offers a FDA-approved treatment called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UFE is a quick and easy outpatient procedure that’s non-surgical and minimally invasive. You won’t need to stay in a hospital, and you can recover at home.
Our medical team uses ultrasound-guided imagery to precisely treat your fibroids in about 30-45 minutes. Unlike other procedures, you’ll make a full recovery in one to two weeks.
The interventional radiologist will insert a tiny catheter into your wrist or thigh and insert embolic materials into the artery feeding the fibroid. This will stop the blood flow, which provides nutrients to the fibroid, allowing it to shrink and die.
Compared to fibroid surgery, some of the many benefits of UFE include:
- Lower risk
- Less pain
- Short recovery
- No general anesthesia
- No hospital stay
- No stitches
- No scarring
- Leaves uterus intact
- Retains fertility
Another consideration is that you will need to recover in a hospital with a hysterectomy or myomectomy unlike treatment with UFE. Recovery from a hysterectomy can take up to eight weeks while UFE allows you to resume normal activity within a week or two. Because a hysterectomy removes your uterus, you can no longer get pregnant or carry a baby. UFE keeps your uterus intact to preserve your fertility.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization can effectively eliminate your uterine fibroid symptoms and quickly return you to normal life.
What to Ask Your Doctor
If you suspect you have fibroids or are planning to consult with your doctor about treatment, it’s a good idea to have a list of questions to ask. Make sure you understand what fibroids are and how they impact your life.
Talk to your doctor, or one of our fibroid specialists about treatment options and how UFE differs from a hysterectomy or myomectomy. It’s important to discuss how UFE can preserve your fertility if you want to become pregnant later on. When you’re well informed about fibroids and fibroid treatment, you can feel more confident about your decision.
Contact USA Fibroid Centers Today
If you notice any uterine fibroids symptoms and signs. Our treatment plans can help you get back to being yourself and living life to its fullest. If you’re unsure of your symptoms or whether insurance covers treatment, contact us today.
To get started on your path to recovery, simply schedule an appointment online. Either way, we look forward to helping you say goodbye to fibroid symptoms and take back control of your life!