Category: Fibroid Symptoms

Why Does my Stomach Hurt After Sex?

Pain during sex is upsetting and can make you avoid intimacy, but pain immediately after intercourse can be equally frightening–and even more confusing! To get to the bottom of why you may be experiencing stomach pain after intimacy, we’re explaining some common causes for post-coital stomach pain:  

What Makes Your Stomach Hurt After Sex 

1. You have fibroids.

While fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that form in your uterus, they are known to cause pain during sex. A lesser known, but also common, symptom? Fibroids can cause you to experience cramping, which could explain why your stomach hurts right after sex.

What to do: Fibroids can be diagnosed by a pelvic ultrasound or MRI. If you receive a fibroid diagnosis, know that there are non-surgical treatment options available. Be sure to discuss all treatment possibilities with your doctor.

2. You have endometriosis.

Endometriosis is basically occurs when 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. Deep penetration can thus cause you to experience stomach pain, often severe, during and 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 have a pelvic cyst.

While ovarian cysts (typically harmless, fluid-filled sacs that develop in or on your ovary) are usually harmless and don’t require any treatment, pelvic cysts are a different story. They may be a sign of a bigger problem brewing, like an infection or an anatomical issue that will need correcting.

What to do: A pelvic cyst can be diagnosed via ultrasound, and, if detected, it can be removed by a laparoscopic procedure.

4. You have an infection like PID.

Pelvic Inflammatory disease, or PID, is a type of vaginal infection (a.k.a. pelvic inflammatory disease) that can occur when bacteria is spread from your vagina to your uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. One common PID side effect is vaginal pain that’s so widespread, it can be mistaken for stomach pain. Unfortunately, if you don’t treat PID promptly, it can leave you with scarring that can cause stomach pain long 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.

 

Those are 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, since sex should feel good, and since stomach pain after sex doesn’t feel good and could be a warning sign of something more serious, it’s best to talk to your doc right away if pain during or after intercourse is something more than a one-time occurrence.

 

These Fibroid Myths are Worth Forgetting

If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids, here’s the truth: you may experience side effects like heavy periods, pelvic pain and constipation. You may have difficulties becoming pregnant, or carrying a pregnancy to term. You will certainly want to talk to your doctors about all the treatment options that are available to you. Those are the facts. Now, here are the fictions that you need to dismiss: 

MYTH #1: Untreated Fibroids Will Keep On Growing 

Some fibroids, if left alone, will keep on growing. In fact, some women who have delayed fibroid treatment ended up with fibroids the size of a nine-month-old fetus. But that is not always the case. Many women with fibroids will not even realize it, because their tumors are tiny, stable in size, and cause no symptoms. Other fibroids may grow to a certain point and then stop growing altogether. And, on rare occasions, some fibroids will rupture, creating a medical emergency.

But here’s the tricky part: it’s hard to know what kind of growth pattern your fibroid will follow. For that reason, even if you decide to delay treatment, you will want to see your doctor regularly to monitor tumor development. 

MYTH #2: Fibroids must be removed.

Fibroids that aren’t causing symptoms may not require any form of treatment, especially if you’ve completed your family or have no interest in becoming pregnant. If your fibroids are causing symptoms like heavy bleeding, severe pain or fertility problems, you’ll likely want to seek treatment, but surgeries like myomectomies (removal of the fibroid) or hysterectomies (removal of the uterus) are not your only options. 

If you’ve decided to treat your fibroids, you may be able to undergo Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), a minimally invasive treatment option that shrinks your fibroids over time by blocking the blood flow to them. Not everyone is a candidate, but if you are looking for a treatment option with little down time and no hospital stays, it’s worth exploring with your interventional radiologist. 

MYTH #3: Taking medication can make fibroids disappear.

Nonsurgical fibroid treatments, like UFE, are sometimes an option. And some other treatment options, like progesterone-based pills or shots, or certain birth controls, can lessen fibroid symptoms like heavy bleeding. Some drugs may even help shrink your fibroids over time, but the benefits will disappear as soon as you get off the meds. Additionally, several fibroid medications have recently been connected to other, more serious, health complications 

MYTH #4: Menopause Cures Fibroids

While many women will experience relief from fibroids after the onset of menopause, that’s not the case for everyone. In fact, if you decide to  undergo hormone replacement therapy to manage menopause symptoms, you may even see new fibroid development! 

Postmenopausal women can still require treatment for fibroids. And for many of these women, who have completed their families,  a nonsurgical approach like UFE will be the ideal treatment option. 

If you are facing a fibroid diagnosis, don’t listen to the myths or rumors. Speak to your doctor about all the treatment options available, and make an informed decision based on the facts alone. 

Normal or Not: Your Period Edition

So many people are too shy or embarrassed to talk about their periods, and that’s a big problem: if you don’t speak up, you may worry needlessly or you may never identify symptoms that indicate a bigger medical problem. In order to help you navigate this sensitive subject, we’re breaking down what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to your monthly visitor. Keep in mind, however, that every woman’s cycle is different, so it’s worth mentioning any major changes to your OBGYN, even if they are seemingly within the normal range. 

First things first, though: a quick review of the basics.

What is your period?

A period is the shedding of your uterine lining. This lining builds up over the course of the month in preparation for pregnancy. “If you don’t get pregnant, your hormone levels drop, and the lining separates from your uterus. That’s when you experience the bleeding known as your period.

Bleeding

Normal: Women’s periods are typically heavier at the start of their cycle, and gradually become lighter.

Not Normal: If you have to change your pad or tampon more than every few hours; if you are bleeding through protection or having to get up at night to change your protection so you avoid stained sheets; or if you are passing large clots, you may be experiencing abnormal bleeding. And, while the excess bleeding can be problematic on its own (left unchecked, it can cause anemia), it could also be the sign of underlying problems like fibroids, certain cancers or other medical concerns.

Timing

Normal: Again, all women are unique, but ‘normal; cycles range from 21 to 35 days between the first day of one period to the first day of the next. The bleeding typically lasts between three and eight days, according to their website.

Not normal: Once you’re out of adolescence and have established your normal cycle range, any major timing changes could be problematic. Missing a few cycles when you aren’t pregnant? That’s something to discuss with your doctor. Bleeding outside of your regular period, or during sex? Another issue to discuss with a medical caregiver. Changes in your cycle often indicate that your body is under stress; it’s important to figure out the source of that stress before other areas of your health are affected.

Pain

Normal: Mild discomfort during your period is normal, and should be easily managed with OTC medications. Standard cramps or period-related discomfort shouldn’t affect your day to day life.

Not normal: Pain that can’t be managed with drugstore medications is a sign of a problem. Pain that causes nausea and vomiting, should also be cause for concern, especially of the pain begins to radiate down your legs. Excessive pain could be an indication of endometriosis or adenomyosis, conditions that are difficult to diagnose if women aren’t forthcoming about their symptoms.

Pelvic pain experienced outside of your period is also not ‘normal’ and should be investigated further, as it is a potential indication of fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that develop in and around your uterus.

Thankfully, treatment is available for almost all the conditions that make your period “not normal.” But the only way to receive help is to speak up, so discuss any menstrual cycle changes with your doctor as soon as you identify an issue!

Why You Need to Address Heavy Periods

When you’re dealing with uterine fibroids, your menstrual flow can become very heavy. Your periods may also last longer than the typical 7 day window. Obviously, this can be uncomfortable and, at times, inconvenient. But if you’re thinking that you should just deal with the annoyance, think again. As it turns out, heavy periods can actually affect other areas of your health. 

How Do I Know if My Periods Are Abnormal?

It’s easy to say that a heavy period could be cause for concern, but it can be difficult to quantify what “heavy” really means. Flow varies from woman to woman, so any major change could be problematic. As a general rule of thumb, however, excessively heavy bleeding is defined as: 

  • Less than 21 days between your periods (longer than 35 days between cycles is also unusual, but this would not be considered a problem of excess bleeding)
  • Periods that last longer than 7 days
  • Passing large clots during your period (anything bigger than the size of a quarter warrants a discussion with your doctor)
  • Losing more than 80 cc of blood (of course, no one expects you to actually measure your blood loss, but if you’re soaking through super tampons or pads in an hour or less, chances are you’re losing too much blood.)

My Period is Too Heavy – What Do I Do Now?

If you think that your periods are too heavy, talk to your doctor right away. Make an appointment with your gyno, even if it’s not time for your annual exam. Here’s why: heavy periods can lead to anemia, a condition that sets in when you don’t have enough iron in your blood. Anemia needs to be addressed immediately, because it can affect your body’s ability to carry oxygen to your extremities. Over time, it can also lead to iron deficiency which, in turn, can affect the body’s bone marrow response. Additionally, anemia can cause symptoms like fatigue, weakness, dizziness, pain, headaches, cold hands and feet, chest pain and even heart attacks. 

Once you mention heavy bleeding to your doctor, he or she will likely suggest an anemia screening, to make sure you’re staying ahead of the issue. But it’s also important to try and determine the cause of your heavy bleeding, or else your continued blood loss will likely keep you in an anemic state. 

Fibroids and Heavy Periods

Uterine fibroids  can develop within the uterine lining (submucosal), the uterine muscle (intramural) or outside the uterine lining (subserosal.) Submucosal fibroids may increase the area of the lining, which causes you to bleed more when it is shed each month. These fibroids may also hinder your body’s ability to stop bleeding once it starts.

Intramural fibroids can increase the blood flow that reaches your uterus, and can also expand the size of your uterine cavity, thereby increasing bleeding.

If fibroids are the cause of your heavy menstrual flow, you will need to treat your fibroids in order to stop the excessive bleeding. Be sure and discuss all your treatment options, both surgical and minimally invasive, when deciding how best to address your fibroids and heavy mentrual flow. 

 

 

5 Surprising Reasons You Always Have to Pee

Does it ever feel like you spend all your time running to or searching for the restrooms? If you’re peeing all the time, and you’re not sure why, here are five potential causes that may be to blame: 

1. Pregnancy

It’s a cliché that almost always proves true: pregnant women always have to pee. Why? As your uterus expands in order to accommodate your growing baby, it puts more pressure on your bladder. And it stands to reason, therefore, that the more pregnant you are, the more frequent those trips to the bathroom will become.  

2. Juvenile Diabetes

While not every kid who pees a lot will be diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, frequent urination (and bed wetting) can be a symptom of undiagnosed diabetes. When diabetes is the cause of your bathroom trips, you’ll likely release a lot of urine on each occasion.

3. Urinary Tract Infections

What’s a sure sign that you’re suffering from a UTI? A frequent urge to pee, even if you’ve just gone to the bathroom. Though you may not pass much urine, what does come through will feel uncomfortable, often causing you to experience a burning sensation.

4. Over hydration

We have all been told the importance of drinking lots of water, and one obvious side effect of this kind of effort will be frequent urination. A less obvious (and less frequent) occurrence? Drink too much water and you may become extremely ill, as a large intake of water in a short amount of time can overwhelm your kidneys, causing you to develop a potentially life-threatening condition known as hyponatremia.

5. Fibroids

Fibroids are muscle-based, non-cancerous tumors that develop in, on or on top of your uterus. They are extremely common, especially in women of African-American descent, and they can cause a host of symptoms, including heavy menstrual cycles and—you guessed it—frequent urination. Why do fibroids make you pee so much? Like a growing baby, fibroids can expand the size and reach of your uterus (sometimes to the size of four month pregnancy!), placing the same kind of pressure on your uterus as does a growing fetus.

New Hope for Women who Experience Painful Sex

For some women with fibroid tumors, sexual intercourse can be painful. Fibroids come in different sizes, and fibroids can also form in different portions or layers of the uterus. When fibroids are located near the cervix, they can cause so much pain  that a woman will avoid certain sexual positions or avoid having sex entirely. In some cases, fibroids near the cervix may also cause women to experience post-intercourse bleeding. Females friends conversing

 

New Relief for Painful Intercourse

Of course, women with fibroids are not the only ones who experience painful intercourse. According to a new study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, evidence suggests that women with chronic sexual pain who were given Gabapentin (a fibromyalgia drug also used to target oral nerve pain) experienced relief from sexual pain. 

The women included in this study had a condition known as vulvodynia, a chronic problem characterized bu stinging, burning and itching at the entry to the vagina. The condition is often worsened by sexual intercourse, or even by the use of tampons. 

With the fibromyalgia drug Gabapentin, the 230 women included in the stuy experienced less pain; their arousal and sexual satisfaction levels also improved. Of course, the pain of vulvodynia does not have the same underlying cause as the pain of fibroids, but one factor does unite the two issues: tightness and discomfort in the pelvic region. Gabapentin appears to help women by alleviating pelvic pain, a symptom experienced by many women with fibroids. 

 

Pain Management Vs. Problem Solving

Not all women are ready to treat their fibroids immediately after receiving a diagnosis. Wisely, they want to research all their treatment options, and decide which course of action is best for their long term health and fertility goals. For women like these, who decide to lay surgical or non-invasive fibroid treatments like UFE, finding new ways to manage symptoms like painful intercourse will be very important. 

How Fibroids Can Affect Your Fertility

Those non-cancerous tumors made up of cells and muscle known as fibroids can be a quirky lot. Many women with uterine fibroids have no symptoms whatsoever, and some never even know they have them. Others have painful and heavy periods and struggle with discomfort. With all these disparate situations you may be wondering if and how fibroids can affect your fertility.

Continue reading “How Fibroids Can Affect Your Fertility”

5 Fibroid Warning Signs to Watch For

Fibroids in different locations may cause your body to experience different symptoms.

Uterine fibroids are more common than you think, and, while many women will develop these non-cancerous tumors, a lot of them will do so without realizing the change in their body! In fact, about 2/3 of women with fibroids never experience ‘typical’ symptoms, making it harder to diagnose and treat the problem. Adding to the complicated diagnosis process? Many fibroid symptoms mimic the effect of other conditions, which is why it’s important to know and discuss any potential symptoms with your doctor. 

 

Once the tumors are on your radar, fibroids can be diagnosed with a routine pelvic exam or with an ultrasound. If you suspect you might have fibroids, monitor your symptoms carefully–both the ones on this list and any other changes in your body’s natural cycles. Discuss any concerns with your ObGYN so you can receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.  

5 Common Symptoms of Fibroids

  1. Heavy periods
    Heavy periods often accompany fibroids, especially the ones that grow inside your uterus. Of  course, heavy periods can be a sign of other changes in your body, or just your cycle’s natural progression as you age, but if your flow is heavy enough to change your daily activity, it’s worth discussing with your doctor, even if you don’t have fibroids!
  2. Frequent Urination
    Fibroids can press on our bladder, especially when they grow outside your uterus. As they get larger, your need to pee will become more frequent and urgent.
  3. Pain during sex
    When fibroids are located on or near your cervix, they can cause you to experience pain or bleeding during sex. Fibroids in the uterus can also make the additional pressure of sex feel painful. This discomfort may happen during or immediately after intercourse. 
  4. Constipation
    Just as fibroids put pressure on your bladder, they can also stress out your rectum. As fibroids press on your rectum, it becomes more difficult to expel waste–that’s when constipation sets in. Typically only larger fibroids lead to constipation, so you should definitely address this symptom quickly.
  5. Lower back pain
    If large fibroids grow near your spine, they can cause lower back pain. Also, due to their location, you may need an MRI to complete your diagnosis. When fibroids are causing back pain, shrinking or removing fibroids may be your only choice for relief.

As you can see, many fibroid symptoms mimic other conditions. When you talk to your doctor about changes in your body, he or she can help you put the pieces together and solve the fibroid puzzle. That’s why our Houston fibroid specialists encourage all women to speak up about what’s going on in their bodies. Any change that bothers you is a change worth discussing with your medical care giver! 

Your Period: What to Expect by the Decades

Fibroids can affect your menstrual cycle: from its length to its heaviness, these non-cancerous tumors can make a major toll on your body each month. But firboids aren’t the only things that affect your monthly cycle: getting older leads to menstrual changes, too. For this reason, it’s important to know what changes are typical for your age, and which are not. Recognizing the difference between typical and atypical cycle changes could help you come to a fibroid diagnosis that much quicker. 

With that in mind, here’s a decade-by-decade guide to what you should expect from your menstrual cycle: 

Your Period in your 20s
Even irregular periods usually become consistent in this decade. Unfortunately, symptoms like cramps, PMS and breast tenderness also become more regular, although birth control can help mitigate menstrual symptoms. Keep in mind, however, that if you already have fibroids, birth control may contribute to their growth, so you should always consult with your doctor before starting on an oral contraceptive. 

Your Period in Your 30s
This decade is the one in which most women are diagnosed with fibroids, so take note of any major changes in your cycle at this time. Want some good news? Many women will have already had children by this stage of life; after a pregnancy, negative menstrual symptoms often dissipate or go away entirely! If you receive a fibroid diagnosis in your 30s, and still plan to expand your family, it’s important to discuss treatment options with a fibroid specialist. There are several fertility-sparing fibroid treatments that can provide symptom relief without forcing you to have a hysterectomy. 

Your Period in Your 40s
This is the decade in which your period will likely become irregular. It can also become heavier (an effect that can also be caused by fibroids) and spotting between periods is not uncommon. Don’t forget that pregnancy is still a possibility at this stage, so you have to carefully consider alternative contraception options before ceasing oral contraceptives that may have previously helped you manage fibroid symptoms like heavy flow. 

While we can make general assumptions about the way your period will progress over the years, every woman is different. What’s “normal” for one person may be unbearable to another. So, how can you tell when it’s time to see a doctor? Here’s our rule of thumb: if your menstrual symptoms are significant enough to negatively impact your day, it’s a good idea to inform your doctor of what’s going on!

How Yoga Can Help Manage Period Pain

One of the most uncomfortable side effects of uterine fibroids is menstrual discomfort. Cramps become more intense, and your cycle is often longer and heavier. While over-the-counter medications can offer some relief from your menstrual discomfort, if this is a monthly issue, you may want to seek a more natural form of pain relief. 

So next month, instead of popping some Advil, why not try one (or more) of these poses from Do You Yoga? The moves are all designed to target areas of your body that are specifically affected by period pain! 

Yoga Positions to Relieve Menstrual Pain

1. Child’s Pose  

Child’s pose is the go-to resting pose in most active yoga classes. The pose is a great option for those suffering from menstrual-cycle related back pain because it gently stretches the low back muscles. 

Focus on deeply breathing into the back and notice the rise and the fall of the breath in the body. Relax through the hips and let the torso rest upon the tops of the thighs which will help alleviate fatigue.

Tip: Put a bolster or pillow under the torso to make it more comfortable for you to hold the pose. 

2. Forward Fold

Forward Fold pose lengthens your spine and stretches your hips, possibly helping alleviate pelvic pain. It also helps ease the pain that radiates down the legs and around the back by stretching the hamstrings, calves, and back.

For an extra stretch, grasp opposite elbows while you are in the pose to release your neck muscles and further unwind.

3. Knees-to-Chest Pose
One of the most effective poses for menstrual pain is the Knees-to-Chest pose because it the lower back and abdominal muscles, relieving tension and reducing pain. Knees-to-Chest pose also increases circulation to the abdomen which may help deliver some pain relief. 

When you are in the pose, try rocking from side to side and back to front to sneak in a bonus back massage! 

4. Cat/Cow

Moving slowly through the active Cat-Cow pose will warm up the body, an action that is known to help relieve menstrual cramps. In addition, these poses target the back and abdominal muscles—stretching and toning them. 

Try going from one pose to the other at your own pace, lingering where desired. Remember to inhale as you rise to Cow pose, and exhale as you coil inwards with Cat pose.

 

Yoga can a wonderful option to help you cope with the painful menstrual side effects of fibroids, but even the best pose won’t offer permanent relief. If monthly fibroid symptoms are interfering with your daily activities, it’s time to explore other treatment options with your Houston fibroid specialists!