While three-fourths of all women develop uterine fibroids at some point in their life, most never even know they have them. Our doctors have seen many, many cases where the presence of fibroids was discovered long after they first appeared and where they had been “hidden” for years.
The most common symptoms caused by fibroids are heavy vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain with menses, intercourse or exercise, infertility, urinary frequency, constipation, and abdominal distention.
The symptoms you may be having aren’t based on the size of your fibroids as much as their location. Submucosal myomas, which grow beneath the uterine lining (endometrium), usually cause heavy bleeding and can lead to infertility, while subserosal myomas, those that may project out from the uterus, can cause mass effect. Intramural myomas, or those that are completely or nearly completely contained within the uterine wall (myometrium), often have a combination of symptoms.
- Heavy or painful periods or irregular bleeding
- Pressure and fullness in the lower abdomen
- Urinary frequency (enlarged fibroids put pressure on the bladder)
- Pain with sex
- Back pain
- Difficulty getting pregnant (Fibroids may distort the uterine lining where the fetus implants and grows)
- Constipation of bloating
Heavy menstrual bleeding
Fibroids can often produce changes in the menstrual flow or frequency. Blood clots can show up in the flow too, and while none of these symptoms are life-threatening, they may indicate the presence of fibroids. If the fibroids are removed or treated, these symptoms often disappear.
Lengthy menstrual periods, or bleeding between menstrual periods
The presence of fibroids can affect your menstrual flow in many ways. Fibroids can result in seemingly spontaneous bleeding or can produce a menstrual period that goes on much longer than expected.
Pain or pressure in the pelvic area
If the fibroids become numerous or large enough, there may be pain or pressure in the pelvic area. Conditions other than fibroids can cause these feelings too, so it is always best to have a medical examination to determine the cause.
The mass of fibroids may become large enough to squeeze or press against the bladder. When this happens, the bladder cannot comfortably hold as much and it may become necessary to urinate more often. It is also possible for the bladder to unexpectedly release its contents.
The appearance of constipation may be due to a number of causes. In some cases, the presence of fibroids may increase or cause this condition. If constipation is common or last for several days, it is best to check with a qualified medical person to determine its cause and treatment.
Backache or pains in the legs
Fibroids can sometimes cause pain or aches in the back or lower extremities. If there is no obvious reason for this pain, such as exercise or exertion, and it does not go away, seeing your doctor may be the first step toward regaining your health.