Are you concerned you may be experiencing early signs of uterine fibroids –– such as pelvic pain, heavy periods, and frequent urination? Although these non-cancerous tumors are not usually considered dangerous, fibroids can still make you feel miserable with painful and unpredictable symptoms that affect your quality of life. While fibroids tend to be asymptomatic in the early stages, in time their effects can become debilitating for some – negatively impacting their careers, social lives, overall health, and intimate relationships.
Fortunately, you don’t have to feel stuck or head back by your symptoms. Uterine fibroids are highly treatable through an effective, minimally invasive, outpatient procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). Here’s everything you need to know about who is at risk for fibroids, how to spot the symptoms, and when you should seek treatment.
Who is at Risk for Developing Fibroids?
You might be surprised to learn that uterine fibroids are an extremely common condition for women, with as many as 70 to 80 percent of women developing one or more fibroids by age 50. While older women may also experience problems associated with fibroids, fibroids often shrink and cause fewer symptoms after menopause – likely due to decreased estrogen levels. Along with age, heredity is a risk factor; if you have a close female relative with fibroids, you are more likely to develop them, too. Race is also a factor that impacts the likelihood of developing fibroids, with African-American women at an elevated risk.
Although some women don’t experience symptoms at all, the effects of fibroids can be extremely problematic for many. If you are at risk, below are some signs to be on the lookout for – but keep in mind that similar symptoms can also be found in other conditions of the reproductive tract. In other words, be sure to always discuss your symptoms with your doctor in order to receive an accurate diagnosis.
Many people with fibroids experience heavy or prolonged menstruation, along with bleeding between periods. This is a challenging symptom to compare with others, especially if you’re a private person. As a result, you may not even realize your bleeding is abnormal. For some guidelines, the type of excessive menstrual bleeding associated with fibroids can:
- Last for ten days or more
- Soak through a sanitary pad or tampon within an hour, for several consecutive hours
- Require doubling up on sanitary products to avoid bleeding through to clothing
- Prompt you to wake up during the night to change sanitary products
- Involve passing blood clots that are larger than a quarter
- Cause you to restrict normal daily activities
One of the most common complaints of having fibroids is pain. The level of fibroid pain can range from mild, to moderate, to severe and debilitating. Areas of pain may include:
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Severe menstrual cramps
- An enlarged abdomen that makes it painful to bend over or exercise
- Pain in the lower back and/or upper legs
- Painful sexual intercourse
Have you been feeling tired and weak? One potential result from the heavy bleeding associated with fibroids is anemia-induced fatigue. Anemia is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout your body. An iron rich diet, iron supplementation, or iron infusions may help, but don’t always resolve the issue. In some cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary. If fibroids are the underlying cause of your anemia, receiving fibroid treatment can help.
Fibroids can put pressure on the bladder, which tends to result in frequent urination and the inability to fully empty the bladder. This unfortunate effect may have you running to the bathroom constantly, and sometimes not making it in time. You may also find that you avoid going out to places that don’t have quick and easy access to a bathroom – or you avoid leaving the house altogether.
Did you know that fibroids can range in size from that of a tiny pea to as large as a melon? Some of the largest ones weigh in at over 20 pounds! If you’ve put on some unexplained weight, can’t zip up your jeans, and are experiencing other fibroid symptoms, talk to your doctor. Along with excess weight, some people also experience an enlarged uterus which can lead to bloating or a sense of fullness and limit certain types of movement. All of this together has the potential to impact body image and self-esteem.
Take our Uterine Fibroid Quiz to learn more about signs of uterine fibroids.
Rediscover Life with Uterine Fibroid Embolization
We recommend seeking fibroid treatment when symptoms limit your daily activities and negatively impact your life. Although many people believe that hysterectomy – the surgical removal of the uterus – is the only available treatment, this simply isn’t true. We offer an effective, minimally invasive, outpatient treatment called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) that can shrink your fibroids and reduce or eliminate your symptoms.
You should know that UFE:
- Takes between 30 and 45 minutes
- Locates fibroids using an advanced ultrasound method called fibroid mapping
- Uses light sedation instead of general anaesthesia
- Involves only a small incision in your upper thigh that doesn’t require stitches
During the procedure, embolic material is injected through a tiny catheter into the uterine artery to block blood flow to the fibroids. Once cut off from blood flow and nutrients, the fibroid(s) will shrink and eventually wither away. Afterwards, the injected material remains permanently in the blood vessels at the fibroid site, making it rare that the fibroid will regrow in the future. Afterwards, you go home with just a small bandage on your incision.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and early signs of uterine fibroids, USA Fibroid Centers can help you find relief. Simply schedule a consultation with one of our experts to discover how Uterine Fibroid Embolization can change your life.