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Uterine Fibroids and Periods

Uterine fibroids are one of the most common causes for period problems. If you have painful periods, heavy bleeding during your periods, or pain during sexual intercourse, it’s possible that you may be suffering from fibroids.

Fibroids affect 20 percent of women (1 woman out of 5) in their reproductive years. The risk of getting a uterine fibroid increases with age. By age 50, an estimated 50 percent of all women (or 1 in 2) have fibroids.

Fibroid Symptoms

Fibroids often present no symptoms, but common fibroid symptoms include:

  • Period problems – including heavy periods; long periods (that last over 7 days), painful periods, and spotting between periods.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pelvic pain and cramping – such as bloating and abdominal pressure; pelvic cramping; and and pain felt in the pelvis, lower abdomen, or lower back.
  • Urinary problems – including the need to urinate more often, and inability to hold your urine (stress incontinence).

Heavy and painful periods are the most common symptoms of fibroids, but these problems can also be caused by other reproductive health concerns – like endometriosis. Fibroids can lead to difficulty conceiving, so women who are trying to conceive may require treatment in order to get pregnant.

Fibroid symptoms can develop slowly over many years, but in some situations, they can develop rather quickly. Some women with fibroids have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, and they never require treatment.

What is a Uterine Fibroid?

Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors or growths that can grow in your uterus (also called the womb). Medical names for uterine fibroids include fibroid tumors, myomas, and leiomyomas.

There are four places where fibroids can develop – inside the uterus (pendunculated fibroids), in the muscular wall of the womb (myometrial fibroids) under the surface of the lining of the uterus (submucosal fibroids), on the outside covering of the uterus (subserosal fibroids).

Uterine fibroids can range in size – from microscopical to the size of your entire your uterus. It’s possible for women to have only one fibroid, or multiple fibroids.

What Causes Fibroids?

Doctors do not know what exactly causes uterine fibroids, but the the female hormone, estrogen has been linked to the growth of fibroids. A woman’s body produces the highest levels of estrogen during her reproductive years, which is probably why fibroids only develop during these years. Fibroids normally shrink and disappear after menopause.

Treatment for Fibroids

Most women with uterine fibroids will never require treatment, since they do not have any major symptoms. For mild causes, doctors often recommend a “watch and wait” approach. However, if your fibroids are painful and causing period problems, you may want to discuss treatment with your healthcare provider.

Common treatments for fibroids include:

  • Birth Control – Women with fibroids who are not interested in becoming pregnant may find that birth control is an effective treatment at treating their symptoms. Whether the birth control pill, patch, or ring, hormonal birth control will lighten a woman’s menstrual bleeding and decrease menstrual pain. Using an intrauterine device (IUD), which releases small amounts of progesterone into the uterus, may also decrease menstrual bleeding and lessen period pain.
  • Hormone Injections – To help shrink uterine fibroids without invasive surgery, doctors may recommend having short-term hormone injections of gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogue (GnRH-a), which basically tricks your body into thinking it’s in menopause. This shrinks your the fibroids, in addition to your uterus. Once the injections stop, however, the fibroids usually grow back.
  • Myomectomy – For women who still want to get pregnant, a surgery called myomectomy can be performed. A myomectomy preserves a woman’s fertility, which is why it’s the preferred treatment for women who want to have future children. The downside to this surgery is that fibroids can grow back in the future.
  • Uterine Artery Embolization – This is a surgical procedure that stops blood flow to the uterine fibroid, causing it to shrink and die. Unfortunately, pregnancy after uterine artery embolization is highly unlikely. This procedure is usually not an option for women who still have hopes for a baby in the future.
  • Hysterectomy – Women who have severe fibroids may opt to undergo a hysterectomy to remove her uterus. This is often a last option, since it is invasive and comes with long-term consequences. Pregnant is not possible after a hysterectomy.

There are newer methods of treating fibroids, but the long-term risks and benefits are not well-known yet. They include using extreme cold or a laser to kill the fibroid.

If you have fibroids, talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

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Read about Fibroids and Pregnancy.

About the author: DP Nguyen is founder and editor of Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies. She’s an expert pregnancy and women’s health blogger. She is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT offer medical advice. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • teresa September 19, 2017, 4:33 am

    “Dear Williams, I wanted to drop you a note and say ‘THANK YOU’, from the bottom of my heart. I was browsing the Internet back in AUGUST this year looking for help, any help. I have been diagnosed with a large fibroid that was extremely painful especially at night before my period. Thankfully enough I accidentally came across so many people thanking dr williams for his medication. I thought I should give his medicine a try and if it worked then the thirty something bucks would have been worth it. I ordered his medicine and went to my local health store and bought the herbs and vitamins and the other more basic ingredients for his medicine and then started his medication that day. After 7 days I didn’t see any change so I thought ‘here we go again’. But it wasn’t another disappointment. By the end of the 4th week on a bright Monday morning, all the pain and the awful bloated feeling just stopped. I immediately went and performed another ultrasound and guess what? The fibroid was not there anymore. I was so happy!

    Thanks to your advice, I now know how to prevent any future fibroid formation and the array of symptoms that goes along with it, including the severe bleeding and heavy periods. Thank you so much for everything!”for more information on how to get his medication you can email him on drwilliam098675gmail.com

  • Daniela February 2, 2017, 3:16 am

    Very well composed and informative information. I suffer with fibroids, heavy bleeding, urination, gained weight, pain, hormone imbalance, anemic and so much more. Me and my significant other had been unable to conceive children, and neither one of us have any children. I’ve decided to see a specialist and await the discussion to have them finally removed.

  • Layla Forndez December 5, 2016, 2:39 am

    I have been following this blog for a while now and today i felt like i should share my story because i was a victim too. I had endometriosis for 18 years and i never thought i would ever get a cure due to the terrible symptoms i had and this made it impossible for me to get pregnant even after 12 years of marriage and it was a serious issue. I got to know about Dr. Aleta who treated someone and the person shared a story of how she got a cure and let her contact details, i contacted Dr. Aleta and she actually confirmed it and i decided to give a try too and use her herbal medicine that was how my burden ended completely. My son will be 2 this december and i am greatful to God and thankful to her for medicine too. If you have (Endometriosis, PCOS, Fibroid, Ovarian cyst, Ectopic Pregnancy or any infertility issues) just reach her on (aletedwin @ gmail. com) she has professional advise and a cure too.

  • Nonceba November 15, 2014, 3:37 pm

    Period problem

  • Jack stewart October 25, 2013, 1:15 am

    Thanks for such a wonderful information, I would like to suggest some of the remedies for incontinence which is a symptom of fibroid, urinary incontinence is more embarrassing and creates more pain than the pain of disease, for Incontinence you can go for some exercise such as kegel exercise or you can use incontinence management products in case incontinence is severe.

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