Author: Houston Fibroids

Why Does my Stomach Hurt After Sex?

When your stomach hurts after sex, it’s upsetting. And it makes intimacy challenging. Plus, this symptom’s confusing: why would your stomach hurt after you’re done with intimacy? We totally understand your confusion! So, to get to the bottom of this symptom, we’re reviewing some common causes of post-coital stomach pain.

Why Does My Stomach Hurt After Sex?

We know it’s scary when something that’s supposed to feel good leaves you in pain. But, before you panic, get armed with information! Here are four possible reasons why your stomach hurts after having sex.

1. Fibroids can make your stomach hurt after sex.

Fibroids are non-cancerous uterine tumors that may cause pain during sex. And do you know one common fibroid symptom? These growths can leave you with non-menstrual cramping. Which can make your stomach hurt after sex. Of course, they can also make your period cramps torturous. Or trigger sharp, stab-like stomach pains.

(Fibroids also cause pelvic pain, back pain and lots of pressure in your pelvic region. At least for 30% of women with these growths.)

What to do: We can diagnose fibroids with a pelvic ultrasound or MRI. If you receive a fibroid diagnosis, know that you don’t have to have surgery to find relief!  Be sure to discuss all treatment possibilities with your doctor.

2. You may have endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a condition in which bits of your uterine lining make their way out of your uterus. When you have endometriosis of the pelvis, your organs in that area may adhere to each other. So, if deep penetration is painful, this could be why your stomach hurts after sex .

What to do: Endometriosis can be difficult to diagnose, so you’ll want to discuss your entire medical history, including your stomach pain, with your doctor. If you have enough symptoms to suggest endometriosis may be the culprit, you will have to undergo laparoscopic surgery to receive a diagnosis. After you are diagnosed, birth control pills or certain other medications can help control your symptoms.

3. You could have a pelvic cyst.

Ovarian cysts are typically harmless, fluid-filled sacs that develop in or on your ovary. And, while they don’t require treatment, pelvic cysts are a different story. These cysts are often a sign of infection or problematic anatomical issues.

What to do: You can diagnose a pelvic cyst via ultrasound. usually, pelvic cysts are removed via minimally invasive surgery

4. An infection may be to blame.

Pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID) is a type of vaginal infection. It’s triggered when bacteria from your vagina  spreads to your uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. One common PID side effect is widespread vaginal pain that’s  mistaken for stomach pain. Unfortunately, untreated PID leads to scarring and lasting stomach pain, even after your infection clears up.

What to do: See your doctor right away. If you catch an infection early on, symptoms can usually be cleared up quickly with antibiotics. If, however, scarring and/or PID has set in, more invasive treatments may be necessary.

Treating Stomach Pain That Occurs After Sex

So, now we’ve gone over some of the ‘scary’ reasons that your stomach may hurt after sex. Of course, there are some other, less problematic, causes of post-coital stomach pain—you’ve tried a new position, or you’re not using enough lube. But sex should feel good. And stomach pain doesn’t. So talk to your doc right away if pain during or after intercourse happens more than once.

Do you suspect that fibroids are causing your post coital pain? Come see our Houston specialists to learn your treatment options. Other fibroids symptoms include heavy periods, bloating, and pelvic pain, even when you aren’t engaged in intercourse.

Sources: Healthline.com

Learn Your Fibroid Risk, Diagnosis and Effect Info

When it comes to your health, it’s important to know your fibroid risk–plus what it means for your health if you get this diagnosis. Many women have heard about fibroids (benign tumors that develop in or on a woman’s uterus) but don’t know much more than the name. Here is our quick cheat sheet for really understanding these tumors:

What’s Your Fibroid Risk?

Before we get started, we have to be clear: we still don’t the exact reason why women get fibroids. But, thanks to recent studies, we do have a clearer picture of what raises women’s fibroid risk.

First, we know that race plays a major role in your fibroid risk. While any woman can develop fibroids, the ones at highest risk: have a family history, are Black or Hispanic, and/or have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). In fact, according to a recent study in the BJOG Journal, black women have a two-threefold higher fibroid risk. That’s why about 70% of black women develop fibroids, according to the study. And it may be why European women have a lower fibroid risk than women in the U.S.: the racial mix in populations is very different.

Still, as more Caucasian women present with elevated BMIs, their fibroid risk has also increased. And we know, thanks to this study, 11 other factors that increase your fibroid risk. These include your age (risk decreases as you get older), premenopausal state, hypertension, family history and the time since your last birth. (Having more full-term pregnancies seems to decreases your fibroid risk. Breastfeeding could also impact your fibroid risk. That’s because your ovarian hormones decrease when you nurse. ) Smoking or consuming certain food additives or soybean milk may also increase your chances of getting fibroids.

In some cases, the use of oral contraceptives or the injectable contraceptive depot medroxyprogesterone acetate increased your fibroid risk. That’s not necessarily surprising, since we know that two things make fibroids grow: hormones, especially estrogen, and blood supply.

But, while some forms of birth control increase your fibroid risk, we can also often control fibroid growth with birth control pills. And, we can shrink the tumors by cutting off their blood supply using a procedure called UFE (uterine fibroid embolization.)

Genetic Fibroid Risks

We are constantly discovering other fibroid risk factors, and recently, scientists from the University of Helsinki uncovered a genetic link. After monitoring 728 women with 2263 tumors, researchers grouped their fibroids by  genetic variants.

For most women, these fibroids fell neatly into one of three. But a number of the fibroids didn’t fit into previously identified categories. Instead, they showed variations that cells’ histone activity. (Histones help shape and control genes.activity.)

After seeing this variation, the researchers discovered an inherited fibroid risk. Women with certain genetic mutations have a higher risk of developing tumors.  As a result, with more research, women with these mutations could receive counseling and regular fibroid screening. In that way, it could be easier to detect and diagnose any developing growths in their earliest stages.

How Can I Confirm my Fibroid Diagnosis? heavy periods change your life

If you are experiencing fibroid symptoms like heavy periods, pelvic pain, incontinence or constipation, your doctor may check you for fibroids. Usually, you’ll be diagnosed with a pelvic exam and a pelvic sonogram. You may need a transvaginal sonogram to determine if the fibroid has affected your uterine lining.

As soon as you’ve been diagnosed, you’ll need to consider your treatment options. And remember that you do have options: not all fibroid diagnoses will end in surgery. In fact, there are minimally invasive fibroid treatments that can help you find relief. But the option you choose will largely depend on the type of symptoms you’re currently experiencing.

How will Fibroids Impact my Life?

Once you know you have fibroids, you have lots of options. If you aren’t bothered by symptoms, you may just monitor the tumor(s). With fibroids that are small, birth control, diet and exercise may keep them from causing you pain. But if pregnancy is important to you, the location of your fibroids will also be important. Fibroids that grow in the uterine cavity or block the fallopian tubes may affect your fertility.

If symptoms or infertility send you in search of relief, it’s important to research all your treatment options. While some doctors may recommend surgery (myomectomy or hysterectomy), we like to explore less invasive options. To learn more about non-surgical fibroid treatments schedule a consult today with our Houston area fibroid experts.

Sources: International Journal of Fertility and SterilityBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 

#WCW: Greenleaf Star learns 4 Ways Fibroids Can Impact Pregnancy

If you have fibroids, you may worry about future pregnancy. Uterine fibroids aren’t usually cancerous, which is good news. But they grow in your womb, and they’re very common during your reproductive years. Fibroids develop as single tumors or as multiple growths. Depending on the type, size, and number of fibroids you have, they could affect your pregnancy.

Recently, Greenleaf star Deborah Joy Winans announced her pregnancy after a fibroids journey. Just a year before announcing her pregnancy, Winans’ doctors discovered she had eight large fibroids. While she was considering her treatment options, she also learned she was pregnant.

Right away, she learned this could be a problem. Winans told Essence magazine, “When [the doctor] started to tell me the things that will happen in my body because of the fibroids and the things that the baby might face, I just was like, ‘Okay, this is really, really serious. ”

Just months later, Winans wound up in the ER with terrible pain and vomiting. There, she learned that degenerating fibroids were responsible for her misery. Next, she needed a surgical procedure to close her cervix, which was opening too soon. Following that procedure, bed rest was in order. So, today she says she’s simply hoping to carry her baby closer to her due date. “As long as I can get to 28 [weeks]… [my doctor] knows that [the baby will] be good and healthy if he came that early. So, 28 is the goal.”

Of course, delivering her baby isn’t ideal. But pre-term labor isn’t the only way fibroids affect pregnancy. In fact, studies suggest, they could also impact your health in ways that don’t involve your growing fetus.

Continue reading “#WCW: Greenleaf Star learns 4 Ways Fibroids Can Impact Pregnancy”

What Helps Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

Do you know the warning signs of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS)? (Also known as ovarian vein reflux?) While pelvic pain, incontinence and uterine fibroids often go hand in hand, these are also red flags for other serious conditions. One such problem is PCS, a medical problem that is triggered by internal varicose veins in your lower abdomen and pelvis. fibroids treatment

Typically, these veins are in your ovaries. They form with vein reflux (when blood flows backwards in your veins). The kind of pelvic pain connected with PCS is more of a chronic ache; some women describe the sensation of someone tugging or pulling in their pelvis.

PCS is a long-term condition, meaning symptoms will stick around, but with this problem, the pain can be made worse when you first stand up or first sit down. Lying down, on the other hand, can provide relief from the pain of PCS.

In addition to pain in your pelvis, PCS can trigger an irritable bowel and/or bladder and painful sex. PCS may also cause visible varicose veins to appear in or around your vulva, vagina, perineum and anus.

While PCS is fairly common, it is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms mimic other conditions, and the root cause of the problem is buried deep within your body. And that was the case Johnelle Mercer, a 19-year old woman from Las Vegas who spent years suffering before finally getting diagnosed.

Woman Crush Wednesday #WCW: Journey to PCS Diagnosis

From the time of her very first period, Mercer experienced terrible pelvic pain. Her periods were very heavy, and she lived with breakthrough bleeding between periods. But every time she discussed her symptoms with doctors, they told her she was just stuck with bad periods.

Sick of being ignored and dismissed, this brave young woman kept advocating to get a diagnosis that would offer pain relief. Finally, at the age of 19, she received that diagnosis: PCS. We’re celebrating her as our Woman Crush of the Week for refusing to be ignored. (And for sharing her PCS diagnosis experience with this viral Tik Tok video.)

Also, we’re helping you understand more about this hard-to-diagnose source of pelvic pain. Because we want you to find relief sooner than Johnelle did. And, with that in mind, here’s what you need to know about PCS in order to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment:

What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

When too much blood builds up in your pelvic, you develop this painful PCS condition. And internal varicose veins are often at fault. Individuals with PCS will experience a dull, aching pelvis period over an extended period of time. Women are more likely to develop PCS than men, but both genders can be affected.

When men are affected by PCS, the condition is easier to diagnose and treat, because two of men’s four pelvic veins are visible on the outside of their bodies. Because all of women’s pelvic veins are invisible on the surface of their bodies, PCS can be harder to spot for women. Most women with PCS have previously been pregnant, but even women who’ve never had a pregnancy can develop the condition.

Typically, we think of PCS as a problem for premenopausal women. Recently, studies suggest that menopause doesn’t always offer relief from PCS. In fact, it turns out that some women first develop symptoms after menopause. Clearly, we need to learn more about the causes of this condition.

Why do symptoms develop?

As we already mentioned, PCS develops because of varicose pelvic veins. Varicose veins in the pelvis begin to develop when their valves fail, causing blood that should be pushed out of the pelvis to stick around in the area instead of traveling back to the heart. When this happens, the veins become dilated and put pressure on sensitive areas of the pelvis and on the pelvic floor muscles (the ones you exercise when doing your kegels.)

Again, women who’ve had at least one pregnancy are also more likely to develop this condition. And that’s likely because carrying a baby brings more blood flow to the area.

Still, we aren’t clear why your valves would fail. Sometimes, the cause seems to be late-pregnancy injury. In other cases, excess estrogen may be the cause, since the hormone can widen your blood vessels. PCS may also be a secondary symptom for people with May-Thurner syndromes. Regardless of the cause, the condition presents with uniform symptoms.

What are the symptoms of PCS?

PCS usually causes women to experience pain deep in their pelvis or uterus; the pain is usually dull or aching rather than sharp or intense. PCS pain gets worse all day, especially if you exercise.

While PCS pain is typically dull, changes in posture or heavy lifting can cause women to experience sharp pains in their abdominal area. With PCS, sex and periods can also become more painful.

Some women with PCS also have bladder symptoms that include a frequent need to pee, frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom and even incontinence. Many women will also develop vaginal or vulvar varicose veins. On diagnostic imaging, we’ll also notice an increase in the volume of your pelvic veins. And for men and women, PCS can also cause or worsen conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or lead to chronic fatigue and back pain.

Can I treat PCS?

We typically diagnose PCS with an ultrasound scan.  Then, your Houston interventional radiologists treat PCS easily, with Pelvic Vein Embolisation (PVE). (This is a procedure that’s similar to Uterine Fibroid Embolization, or UFE.)

We use a local anesthetic for this x-ray technique. Guided by ultrasound, we’ll insert a catheter (thin tube) in your vein, pushing into the problematic pelvic vein. Once there, we deposit embolizing material to permanently block off the vein or veins causing your PCS symptoms. After, blood can’t build up in the area. Your vein will shrink and symptoms should resolve quickly.

With proper care and a minimally invasive procedure, we can quickly treat and resolve PCS. Our highly trained vein specialists can easily spot your PCS symptoms and recommend a treatment plan. If you’re experiencing dull, aching pelvic pain, you should schedule a consultation right away. We can even meet remotely, with a Telemedicine appointment, if that’s easier for your current schedule. Remember, you don’t have to live with chronic pelvis pain—you just need to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment plan!

Sources: www.Cedars-Sinai.Org

Can I get Pregnant After UFE?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is an effective, minimally invasive fibroid treatment. For years, we didn’t know how UFE affects fertility. Women who wanted kids had myomectomies (surgical removal of fibroids.) Now, thanks to several studies, we’re learning more about fertility after UFE. And how many women get pregnant after UFE, both of which may just be changing that school of thought.

Today, we’ll explore how UFE may affect your chances of having a family. But first we’ll walk you through the procedure. And let you know what your recovery will look like, so you can know what to expect right after having a UFE procedure.

What Happens During and After UFE?

Woman holding a pregnancy test

As we mentioned, UFE is a less invasive fibroid treatment option. During the procedure, our doctors make just one small incision, either in your groin or wrist. Next, we insert a small tube through the incision. This allows the doctor to insert X-ray equipment and guide it to reach your uterine artery—and your fibroids.

Once there, we can inject small embolization particles into your arteries. This blocks oxygen and blood from reaching and nourishing your fibroids, so they shrink and die over time. And we don’t remove the embolization particles from your uterine arteries, so the tumors don’t return.

A UFE procedure lasts about one hour or less. You should be able to go home the same day as your procedure, and you won’t require general anesthesia.  Still, you shouldn’t drive yourself home after UFE. The pain medication you receive during your procedure may compromise your reaction time, so driving that day won’t be safe.

Post UFE Symptoms

Even with medication, lower stomach pain is possible after UFE. (It should feel like menstrual cramping.)  To make sure you’re safe, you’ll be monitored for several hours (between four and 23) following procedure. How you feel will affect how long you’ll need medical monitoring.

Once you’re ready to go home, your doctor will let you know when to take your pain medications. You’ll also receive important details about post-UFE care, including when to schedule follow up appointments. (Usually they’ll come one week and three months after the UFE procedure.)

The post-UFE cramps are normal, and should resolve after a few days. You may develop a fever, so be sure to check with your doctor about which medications are safe to take, since some could interact badly with your prescribed pain medications.

If pain meds make you nauseous, call your doctor right away, since you can receive a different prescription.  In some cases, you may experience a condition known as “post-embolization syndrome.” Characterized by symptoms such as a low grade fever, mild nausea and discomfort, it can come on anywhere from a few hours to a few days after UFE. But it should be fairly manageable.

Resuming Activity After UFE

Within days of your procedure, you should be cleared to resume light activities. Then, 11 days of UFE, almost all women can return to work and all normal activities. So, now you know what to expect right after this fibroid treatment. But what can happen to your fertility after UFE? Let’s take a closer look!

Fertility After UFE

In one French study, researchers followed 15 women, all about 35 years old and with no apparent fertility problems. All of the women treated their fibroids with UFE. Typically, UFE eliminates fibroids by injecting an embolizing substance into all the blood vessels and arteries surrounding a tumor. For this study, doctors changed things up. They embolized the vessels that directly gave blood to fibroids, but left other nearby arteries untouched, allowing blood to flow into the unaffected uterine tissue. The procedure, called a limited embolization approach, was supposed to spare the women’s fertility while also relieving their fibroid symptoms.

Nine of the women were actively trying to get pregnant at the time of treatment. Within a year, five had babies.  Three and a half years after the modified UFE, eight of the women had given birth to 10 babies! Those are numbers that we love to see.

And that’s not all the good news. The women reported a 66% reduction in their fibroid symptoms, and an incredible 112% improvement in their overall quality of life. Only five women still experienced symptoms, seeking follow up treatments.

Can I Get Pregnant After UFE? Fibroids can impact your fetal development

If you dream of having a family, you want to be sure UFE won’t end that dream. Which is why you’ll probably want more than one studying confirming its safety. Luckily, new evidence emerges every day that you can get pregnant after UFE.

Recently, a study from India reviewed women’s health history between January 2012-2018. Specifically, they followed 28 women between the age of 22 and 35. Each of these women had UFE treatment for one of several conditions.

After their procedures, 86% of the women had at least one successful pregnancy. And 21% of the women had two successful pregnancies after UFE, just within that short time period.

And the news gets better. Of those successful pregnancies, 62% of the women had vaginal deliveries. Just 38% of the women delivered their babies via caesarean section. A statistic that’s fairly close to the national average: according to the Centers for Disease Control, 31.9% of U.S. births each year are via c-section.

While the study size is limited, these results are great news for women who want to get pregnant, and want to avoid fibroid surgery. And, as research continues, we believe more studies will provide similar evidence.

Choosing Your Fibroid Treatment Options

In the first study we explored, the fibroid treatments were altered. But in our second study, the women received a typical UFE procedure. And that’s an important distinction. Why?

Because, with unlimited UFE, the full procedure impacts blood flow to your uterus, it may impact your chances of getting pregnant. So, some women still may choose limited embolization UFE. But, as more studies on getting pregnant after UFE, without limits, emerge, we hope your fibroid treatment options will expand. Without sacrificing your dreams of starting or expanding your family.

In the mean time, we promise to keep you updated on all the latest research. So, for more information on UFE, and to see if the procedure can work for you, schedule a consultation with one of our Houston area fibroid specialists. Relief may be available without hospital stays–all without giving up on your dream of having a family!

 

Sources: Europeanradiology.org, Interventional News, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Why Black Women Get Fibroids

Black women get fibroids more than any other women on the planet. And, did you know that African American women have some of the worst fibroid experiences? These are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around your uterus.

Fibroids are composed of muscle tissue. You can develop one or many fibroids. They may be small or large. And, while some women don’t even know they have fibroids, others experience symptoms that significantly interfere with their lives. These include heavy periods, pelvic pain,  frequent urination and/or constipation, and pain during sex.

Why Do Black Women get Fibroids More Often?

We still don’t know why some women develop fibroids, while others don’t. But we do know that Black and African women develop fibroids three times more often than white women. That’s why our own Dr. Eric Hardee is spreading the word about why black women have an increased fibroid risk.

Sadly, the bad news doesn’t end there. Because, when they do develop, those fibroids are likely to be large and symptomatic.

Tanika Gray Valbrun, founder of The White Dress Project, is one of those women. She was 23 when she received a fibroid diagnosis, but she’d already had years of pain. Today, at 42, she continues to fight for fibroid awareness. She wants the world to take this health challenge seriously, pointing out that the WHO (World Health Organization) doesn’t even share fibroid information on its website.

This is a shocking discrepancy since the site offers extensive information on other conditions affecting women, including infertility.

Valbrun recently told CNN, “I just don’t understand it, like, if so many Black women have fibroids, why aren’t more people talking about it? Why aren’t there so many walks and campaigns like there are for other medical conditions?” she said.

Additional Challenges

Lack of awareness is a problem for many black women who get fibroids. But so is the period stigma that’s still prevalent in many African cultures.

That’s something Ghanain Nana Konamah is working to change. In 2019, she and friend Jessica Nabongo made a documentary to help women understand how fibroids can impact so many aspects of women’s lives. At the same time, she’s trying to eliminate period stigma so that women speak up about symptoms and get diagnosed.

Early diagnosis is crucial. And it’s equally important to understand your fibroid treatment options! Because, according to the most recent CDC data, 33 percent of Black women ages 48-50 had a hysterectomy. In contrast, only 3 percent of white women in that age group removed their uterus. And when it comes to younger women? The gaps are even more startling.  Among women ages 33-45, 12 percent of Black women had a hysterectomy. And white women? Only 4 percent in that age group chose this invasive surgery. That’s a major problem. We need to do better and help spread more fibroid knowledge, so all women know their fibroid treatment options.

Increased Risk and Delayed Treatment

Uterine-Fibroid-Treatment-for-African-American-Women in Houston We don’t know the exact scientific evidence reason why African American women are more likely to develop uterine fibroids. Still, there are a number of theories.

First, because African American girls are more likely to start their period at a younger age, one such theory is that fact makes them more susceptible to fibroid development later in life. It could also explain why black women develop fibroids at a younger age than women of other races. Daughters are also three times as likely to have fibroids if their mother experienced them, which just completes this vicious circle.

Recently, the Black Women’s Health Study offered another theory. One interesting new idea was that black women’s increased fibroid risk was linked to childhood trauma. Something that is devastating for us to learn.

And here’s the worse news. More African American women have fibroids, and severe fibroid symptoms, they don’t get help quickly. In fact, studies show that  African American women reported taking an average of four years to seek fibroid treatment

How to Treat Uterine Fibroids

Unfortunately, African American women are not only three times more likely to develop uterine fibroids but they are also more likely to have larger and more densely populated fibroid tumors, so the treatment options can be different. While African American women diagnosed with fibroids are twice as likely to have a hysterectomy as Caucasian women, it’s important that those diagnosed with uterine fibroids are given comprehensive treatment options.

  • Non-invasive: include watchful waiting if you don’t experience symptoms, hormone treatments that may treat some symptoms, or an ultrasound procedure.
  • Less invasive: include uterine fibroid embolization, or endometrial ablation, which removes the lining of the uterine.
  • Surgical: include a myomectomy in which the fibroids are surgically removed, or a hysterectomy where the entire uterus is removed. The more invasive a surgery, the more room there is for complications.

Talk to your gynecologist and our fibroid specialists about the symptoms you’re experiencing to help decide on your best approach to treatment.

Sources: CNN, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Black Women’s Health Imperatives, Black Women’s Health Study, CDC, Well + Good

Dr. Hardee Explains Black Women’s Risk of Fibroids On Black Enterprise

Black women have a 2.5 greater relative risk of developing fibroids compared to white women. In an article on the Black Enterprise, Houston Fibroids’ Dr. Eric Hardee explains why black women are more likely to have uterine fibroids and what they should know about treatment options.

screenshot of Dr. Hardee's feature in Black Enterprise

Read the full article to discover the factors that play into the likelihood of Black women developing uterine fibroids. 

Know Your 6 Fibroid Treatment Options

If you have uterine fibroids, it’s important to know your fibroid treatment options. Until recently, most women didn’t hear about choices. Instead, they were given hysterectomy or other surgeries to treat fibroids and other causes of pelvic pain. But now we know there are better alternatives to a hysterectomy. Which is why we want women  to know all their fibroid treatment options.

Continue reading “Know Your 6 Fibroid Treatment Options”

Are all fibroids the same?

If you’re wondering, are all fibroids the same, this read’s for you! All fibroids, (also called myomas or leiomyomas) are non-cancerous growths of muscular tissues. They all develop in and on a woman’s uterus. Yet not all fibroids will develop in the same location, or cause the same symptoms. That’s why we tend to classify fibroids based on where with the uterus they develop.

The Three Types of Fibroids are all fibroids the same

There are three different fibroid classifications.  Intramural fibroids grow almost entirely within the wall of the uterus.  Submucosal tumors grow from the uterine wall and push into the cavity of the uterus. Subserosal fibroids grow out of the uterine lining, poking through the uterine wall. Your symptoms may be different from another woman’s depending on the type or location of your fibroids. But, for all women with fibroids, symptoms tend to fall in three main categories:

  • Pain
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Pressure

Location Based Symptoms

Bleeding
For all women, fibroids can cause long, heavy periods and/or bleeding even when it’s not that time of the month. All fibroids affect blood flow to the uterus in some way, which is why your period typically gets heavier. Women with submucosal fibroids typically experience the heaviest periods, because they push your uterine lining into the cavity, greatly expanding its reach. Heavy bleeding is a symptom that should be addressed right away with your doctor, since, over time, it can make you anemic.

Pain 
Mild discomfort or cramping is often a normal part of your menstrual cycle: the cramps are caused by slight changes to your uterus as you shed its lining. When you have fibroids, the changes to the uterus are more significant, which is why your cramps are likely to be stronger and more painful with these tumors. Women with intramural or subserosal fibroids may also experience lower back pain, as their enlarged uterus pushes against the muscles of the back. And women with fibroid tumors located near the cervical opening may experience pain during sex, although certain positions will be more comfortable than others.

Pressure
Women with fibroids often experience pressure or heaviness in the pelvis because the tumors increase the size of their uterus. Women with subserosal fibroids may become constipated or feel the need to urinate frequently, as their uterine lining expands and places pressure on either the bladder or the rectum.

 

Changes in Size and Symptoms heavy periods change your life

When your uterine tumors get large, that can make your symptoms worse. It may also limit your treatment options, since larger growths could require more aggressive treatment. Or, if the growths get too large, you may experience something called fibroid degeneration.

What is this condition? Well, it’s something that happens when your tumors are so large, they can’t survive with existing blood supplies. As a result, they start to break apart and die.

Now, while this sounds like an easy solution to your condition, it actually isn’t. Because, while your growths temporarily get smaller, they’ll likely grow back again. Plus, while they degenerate, you may experience painful symptoms such as sharp pain and fevers.

These growths may degenerate at any time, but it’s most common during pregnancy. One condition, known as red degeneration, almost exclusively affects pregnant women. It’s called red degeneration because the fibroids appear red in color as they break apart. During pregnancy, this may lead to heavy bleeding, so your OB may need to carefully monitor your pregnancy.

Are all Fibroids the Same? Calcification

When these growths degenerate, they may harden around the edges. (We call that calcification.) But in some cases, the entire tumor calcifies, making it resemble a hard lump instead of a muscular growth.

Once this happens, your other symptoms may get worse. Or, the hardened growth could block your vagina, causing a condition known as vaginal prolapse. Calcification often impacts women who have gone through menopause. But this shift could happen at any time after your diagnosis, possibly impacting your desire to seek treatment.

As you can see, the size and location of uterine growths can change the way you feel, or limit your treatment options. But, regardless of where your fibroids are located, and no matter which symptoms you find most bothersome, relief is available, often without surgery. Contact our Houston area fibroid specialists to learn if you are a candidate for our minimally-invasive fibroid treatment.

 

Sources: healthline.com, mayoclinic.org, verywellhealth.com 

 

 

 

Houston Fibroids Featured in August Issue of First For Women

Houston Fibroids was recently featured in the August issue of First For Women where Dr. Hardee’s patient, Yolanda Rhodes, speaks to how she was able to “get her life back” after having severe complications resulting from uterine fibroids. Check out this article which talks about Yolanda’s personal story, how a simple outpatient procedure healed her physical and emotional pain, and how other African American women can learn from her experience.

Dr. Eric Hardee of Houston Fibroids

 

 

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