The majority of women in the U.S. will develop fibroids at some point in their lifetime. Fibroids can cause heavy, prolonged or painful periods that prevent women from participating in daily activities, such as work, school and exercise.
Living with fibroids is often a self-managed cycle of pain, frustration, and unpredictable symptoms. Many women live with fibroid pain for years before seeking treatment in an effort to avoid undergoing a hysterectomy.
Fortunately, today there are effective uterus-preserving treatments. Our team of specialists offer minimally invasive low risk treatments as an alternative to surgery. With advances in imaging and procedural techniques, patients can opt for treatments that have shorter recovery times, less complications, and equal or better results than surgical procedures.
Not all women develop symptoms from their fibroids, but those who do most commonly suffer from severe menstrual cramps, abdominal pain, and pelvic pain. Severity of fibroid pain and symptoms differ depending on fibroid location as well as size.
The most common fibroid symptoms include:
Causes & Risks
There are four major types of fibroids and the symptoms associated with each vary. Here are some of the ways in which fibroids can lead to abdominal pain as well as pain beyond the uterus:
- Intramural fibroids, which develop within the uterine wall, can cause pelvic pain due to the additional pressure placed on surrounding organs by fibroid growth. When fibroids are present in the uterine lining, they can prevent the uterus from fully contracting during menstruation, which can cause severe cramps.
- Pedunculated fibroids, which are attached to stalk-like growths on the inside or outside of the uterus, can twist on the stalk, resulting in pain and pressure on the bladder, rectum, or spinal nerves.
- Fibroids can cause pain with sex, the medical term for which is known as “dyspareunia.” This symptom may be caused by fibroid size/location. Fibroids that hang through the cervical opening can make it difficult to enjoy sexual intercourse. Additionally, pressure placed on the uterus can worsen symptoms, even causing fibroids to bleed.
- When fibroids grow large enough, they can press down on the rectum. This pressure can lead to constipation or pain when passing stool, and can also contribute to the development of hemorrhoids.
- Large fibroids located on the opposite side of the uterus from the rectum may cause problems with the bladder instead. In particular, they might press down on the bladder and limit the amount of urine you can hold, causing pain and difficulty urinating.
- While rare, it is also possible for large fibroids in the uterus to become so big that they press on the urethra, making it impossible for urine to pass from the kidney to the bladder. This condition results in painful urination, urgency when going, frequent urination, and pain. It also endangers the kidney and often requires surgery to remove the fibroid.
Fibroids cause more than just pain. Findings published in the Nov. 1, 2020 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that the psychological and social burden of the condition is comparable with those for heart disease, diabetes or breast cancer. Symptoms often interfere with everyday life, yet those who have it often suffer in silence.
Diagnosis & Care
If you’re experiencing symptoms like heavy bleeding and chronic pain, talk with a gynecologist. You may have fibroids, endometriosis, or adenomyosis, and being diagnosed is the first step to receiving treatment and improving your quality of life.
The fibroid experts at Viva Eve understand the debilitating pain and stress these symptoms can cause. Our team of specialists practice empathy and compassion with patients, providing them with thorough facts and candid conversation about procedures and treatment options.