It’s estimated that some 26 million women from 15-50 years old will develop uterine fibroids. Most of the time, fibroids show no symptoms. If you’re unlucky enough to have symptomatic fibroids, however, they can be quite intrusive — causing heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and frequent urination.
The OB/GYN team at Capital Women’s Care in Silver Spring and Laurel, Maryland, often treats symptomatic fibroids with medications or minimally invasive surgery. They evaluate you for uterine fibroids if you come in with one or more of the following seven symptoms.
When fibroids are located close to the uterine cavity, they can cause heavy menstrual bleeding. You may soak through more than one tampon or sanitary pad per hour, or even require two forms of protection. When you have fibroids, your period may last more than a week too.
Fibroids can sometimes grow very large — around the size of a grapefruit. This can cause serious bloating and distension of your abdomen. Your uterus may grow to up to 10 times its normal size, making you feel like you're pregnant.
Fibroids can sometimes put pressure on the bladder, making you feel like you have to go more often. You may even get up several times during the night to urinate.
The pressure can also reduce the capacity of your bladder. Fibroids that block the outflow of urine can make it feel like your bladder is never fully empty.
Uterine fibroids located near your cervix can cause painful sex. Intercourse places pressure on these fibroids, so you experience anything from mild discomfort to severe pain. Friction generated during intercourse can irritate these fibroids too.
The fibroids can cause heaviness and pressure in your pelvis. Some women experience pelvic pain due to fibroids.
Fibroids aren’t a common cause of infertility, but in some cases they obstruct the fallopian tubes and prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall. Fibroids may also disrupt your hormones and make the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) inhospitable to pregnancy.
If we’ve ruled out structural issues, like a herniated disc or muscle pull, as the cause of your back pain, uterine fibroids may be the culprit.
Occasionally, fibroids press up against the muscles and nerves of the lower back and cause back pain. Usually, the offending fibroids are located on the back surface of the uterus rather than within the uterine wall.
If you come to Capital Women’s Care with any of these symptoms, you undergo a regular pelvic exam to see if the doctor can feel any fibroids with their fingers. They may also order an ultrasound, which is a noninvasive test that uses sound waves to produce a picture of the inside of your uterus.
A hysterosalpingogram, which is more accurate in detecting fibroids, is another common screening when fibroids are suspected. This test involves injecting sterile saline into the uterus and then taking ultrasound pictures.
If you’re showing symptoms of uterine fibroids, schedule an appointment at Capital Women’s Care. Call or use this website to set up your visit. We evaluate your symptoms and determine if they’re due to fibroids or to another gynecological condition.