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Fibroid Symptoms | Fibroids Research and Treatment Centre

Fibroid Symptoms

Among women with fibroids, 50% have no fibroid symptoms whatsoever!

Thus many women are not aware that they have fibroids, and this should not be a matter for concern, as these tumours are entirely benign.

The common fibroid symptoms areas are as follows:

  • Heavy or painful periods, which can sometimes lead to anaemia
  • Discomfort or swelling in the lower abdomen, particularly if your fibroids are large
  • Backache or pains in the legs
  • Urinating frequently, usually if the fibroids are pressing on the bladder
  • Constipation, which can be caused by the fibroids pressing on the rectum
  • Pain or discomfort during sex, which is usually if the fibroids are growing near the vagina or lower part of the cervix).
  • In some cases, women may suffer infertility, and perhaps even repeated miscarriage, although this is a controversial issue which needs to be clarified by research. Fibroids may also rarely cause problems during pregnancy and labour (more information at the bottom of the page), such as pain when they undergo what is called “red degeneration”, early labour, failure of the baby’s engage if the fibroids are in the wrong place, and bleeding after delivery as the fibroids may interfere with the shrinking of the uterus.

    Fibroid Symptoms: Heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)

    Bleeding is abnormally heavy if it involves the passage of large clots, flooding (a sudden gush of blood), prolonged bleeding, the need to use double protection or super-tampons or frequent changes, and/or if it interferes with daily routines, such as dreading to go to work because of the heavy bleeding. It is not entirely clear why fibroids cause heavy bleeding, but it is thought they stretch the lining of the womb, thereby creating a larger area from which bleeding can occur during menstruation. This would explain why heavy menses are more frequently associated with fibroids that grow into the cavity of the womb (submucous fibroids).

    Fibroid Symptoms: Anaemia (iron deficiency)

    In some women the heavy blood loss can render them anaemic, the symptoms of which are tiredness, lethargy and dizziness. Women who have heavy periods are advised to take iron supplements, and eat healthy diets which include liver, leafy green vegetables, dried fruit and even red wine to help boost iron levels. Of course, the cause of the heavy menses should be addressed.

    Fibroid Symptoms: Pain and pressure

    Pain during menses may be caused by the passage of large blood clots through the cervix. Cramps could also be caused by the womb trying to force out a submucous fibroid that is growing on a stalk in the cavity of the womb.
    Large fibroids can make the womb big and bulky, which can lead to lower back pain or pelvic discomfort. Some women with fibroids feel a dull ache in their thighs or develop varicose veins in their legs. This happens when fibroids become so large they press on nerves and blood vessels that extend to the legs.

    Occasionally, fibroids can cause sudden severe pain in the pelvic area or lower back. This may be due to a fibroid on a stalk (pedunculated) that has become twisted. This kinks the blood vessels in the stalk and cuts off the blood supply to the fibroid. The latter is a medical emergency for which the affected woman should seek medical attention.

    Fibroid Symptoms: Pain during sex

    Fibroids that press on the cervix or hang through the cervix into the vagina can make penetrative sex painful and can also cause bleeding during sex. These symptoms, especially bleeding after sex, should never be ignored as they may be due to even more serious disease, such as growths in the cervix.

    Fibroid Symptoms: Bladder and bowel symptoms

    Large subserous fibroids (on the outer part of the womb) can press on the bladder or bowel, leading to one or more of the following symptoms:

    Bladder

  • frequent need to urinate
  • leaking or dribbling urine
  • urgent need to urinate, often passing only a small amount
  • difficulty or inability to pass urine – a serious problem, especially if the woman goes into acute retention and cannot pass urine at all
  • cystitis caused by trapped urine that becomes infected
  • Bowel

  • constipation
  • haemorrhoids (piles)
  • Fibroids and pregnancy

    Since 50% of women with fibroids have no symptoms, it stands to reason that fibroids often do not interfere with pregnancy. They may enlarge during pregnancy and cause some discomfort. Some fibroids in certain areas, however, can make conception difficult or lead to miscarriage. Fibroids may press against, or block the entrance to, the fallopian tubes, thus preventing the egg from reaching the uterus. Submucous fibroids that grow inwards into the womb are thought to cause recurrent miscarriage.

    A fibroid can also interfere with labour and birth if it blocks the passage to the birth canal. This may necessitate delivery by caesarean section. Fibroids may increase the risk of bleeding heavily after birth, and can increase the time it takes for your womb to return to its normal size.

    Just as fibroids can affect pregnancy, pregnancy can affect fibroids. It is thought that fibroids grow during pregnancy because of higher levels of oestrogen, but there is little evidence to support this. Another effect of pregnancy on fibroids is something called ‘red degeneration.’ This is when a fibroid’s blood supply is cut off, causing it to turn red and die. It can also happen outside of pregnancy but it usually occurs in the middle weeks of a pregnancy. Red degeneration can cause intense abdominal pains and contractions of the womb, which could lead to early labour or miscarriage. The pain and contractions usually stop on their own but often hospitalization and pain killers are required.

    If You Are Suffering from Fibroid Symptoms or Wish to Be Checked For Fibroids.

    For an NHS appointment please ask your GP to refer you to the
    Myoma Clinic, St George’s Hospital.

    If seeking a private consultation please ring 020 8947 9877.

    St George’s Fibroids Clinic London | Parkside Hospital Fibroids Clinic Wimbledon
    Princess Grace Hospital Fibroids Clinic | St Anthony’s Hospital Fibroids Clinic

    Links

    • Women's Health – Women’s Health Clinic Website, Dedicated to Gynecological Disorders. Information on a wide range of women’s health disorders & symptoms women may experience.

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