Uterine fibroids are very common in women of childbearing age, but most do not even know they have them as the symptoms of fibroids can easily be mistaken for something else. 50% of women with fibroids have no symptoms at all, and only now they have fibroids during a pelvic exam, or when they are having problems conceiving.
Here are some common symptoms you need to be aware of, so you know when its time to take action.
Abdominal swelling – if your belly is bulging out, but it feels hard when you touch it, this is a common symptom of fibroids. Many women with fibroids look pregnant when they are not, and find that the swelling gets worse over time.
Heavy menstruation – if you find that you’re constantly having to change your super plus tampons, or night time sanitary towels are not enough during your period, this is also a sign that fibroids are causing abnormal bleeding. Some bleeding can be so bad that blood transfusions are needed.
Abnormal bleeding – in addition to heavy bleeding, you may find that you’re spotting in between periods, or your periods are lasting 6 or more days. Some women also pass lots of heavy black clots in their menstrual blood.
Vaginal bleeding after menopause – women who have gone through menopause may experience bleeding after several years of not having periods. This is another indication of fibroids becoming out of control.
Back pain, or pain in the back of the legs – women with fibroids sometimes experience pain in seemingly unrelated places. This is because the nerves that link the uterus to the brain are located near the nerves for the back and legs.
Cramps – fibroids can cause strong spasms, as the uterus recognizes them as foreign body that it needs to expel. It can feel to some women like they are going into labour, and the pain can be so bad that painkillers will not take it away.
Pelvic pain – this can come in the form of a constant dull ache, to sharp pains, depending on the type of fibroid. Some fibroids can compress other organs, and cause them to feel under pressure as well.
Urinary problems – women with large fibroids may experience frequent urination, as the fibroid presses on the bladder, or difficulty urinating, if the fibroid is blocking any part of the urinary system. Frequent urinary tract infections are also linked to fibroids interfering with the functioning of the urinary system.
Constipation – fibroids pressing on the colon can prevent regular bowel movements, cause painful digestion, and are easily mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome. If you’re in a relationship, fibroids can also cause painful intercourse, depending on where the fibroid is located. Being in constant pain, or feeling exhausted because of anaemia or fibroid symptoms can also lower the sex drive, causing relationship difficulties in some couples.
Infertility and miscarriage – fibroids can get in the way of conception, and having a healthy pregnancy. They can block fallopian tubes, prevent implantation from taking place, or in pregnant women, interfere with fetal development, or cause the uterus to spasm and miscarriage.
The most important thing to note is that it’s essential to take action to shrink your fibroids now, rather than waiting until later. Even if your fibroids are small and they are giving you no problems, they can grow very quickly, and can have serious repercussions on the health of your other organs.
Remember for every woman who looks 6 months pregnant because of her fibroids, or is bleeding so badly she’s having blood transfusions, there was a time in her life when her fibroids were very small, and were not giving her any problems. This is why its so important not to procrastinate.