What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?
Heavy, prolonged or painful menstrual periods with or without clotting
Typically, during menstrual period, uterine muscle will contract and tighten, causing blood to clot enough to stop menstrual bleeding. However, when fibroids are present in the uterine lining, they can prevent the uterus from fully contracting, causing a continuation in bleeding. The fibroids can also stimulate the blood vessels of the uterus, causing there to be more blood in the uterine cavity, leading to heavy periods.
Moderate to severe menstrual cramps
Uterine fibroids can cause heavy menstrual flow which includes passage of blood clots. When these clots travel from the uterus through the cervix to the vagina this leads to cramping and pain. Because fibroids are benign (non cancerous) tumors that can grow on the inside, outside or the wall of the uterus, the pressure caused by their growth can increase menstrual cramping
Irregular monthly bleeding or spotting, bleeding between periods, unpredictable menstrual cycles
Fibroids could cause irregular bleeding if they grow into the uterine lining.
Pain during sex and loss of libido
This symptom can have a variety of causes including fibroids that distort the vagina. Large fibroids can produce pressure in the uterus and can cause intercourse to become painful. When benign fibroid tumors grow in the area of the cervix at the end of the vaginal tract, they can make sex highly uncomfortable for women. Loss of libido is a frequent complication for women with fibroids or adenomyosis.
Pelvic pressure and pain, distended and bloated abdomen
While the uterus is typically as large as a small pear, weighing not more than a quarter of one pound, with fibroids growing inside, it can become enlarged and create a sensation of fullness in the abdomen. As the fibroids enlarge the uterus, it can extend above the pelvic bone and cause anything from a small paunch to a very distended abdomen with an appearance of pregnancy. In fact, gynecologists often determine the size of the enlarged uterus by referencing it to a comparably sized pregnant uterus (# of weeks gestational size).
Lower Back Pain and pain in the back of the legs
As fibroids grow in size, they can apply extra pressure on the neighboring organs and cause unwarranted pain in the pelvic area. The pain may also radiate to the lower back and some women may also feel the pain extending into their legs.
Anemia (low blood count) that can lead to a lack of energy and fatigue
Menorrhagia (prolonged and/or profuse menstrual bleeding) that women with symptomatic fibroids experience, can sometimes cause a woman to become anemic. With heavy menstrual bleeding persisting overtime, the body may not be able to make new blood cells fast enough to replace those that have been lost. In such instances, some women with fibroids may need to take iron pills to compensate for the loss of blood.
Weak bladder control, frequency in urination due to bladder pressure
Uterine fibroids can cause compression of the bladder leading to its decreased capacity. This can be disruptive to sleep and daytime activities. Occasionally compression of the bladder can result in stress incontinence.
Another possible effect of uterine fibroid tumor growth can be increased pressure on the bowel. When the fibroid growth is located towards the back, pressure applied to the rectum can cause constipation.
Infertility caused by fibroids is thought to represent only 2-3% of all infertility cases. Fibroids can potentially block the cervix or opening to the fallopian tubes causing infertility.