Category: Fibroid Symptoms

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! 

Why Size Matters When it Comes to Fibroids

Many women are diagnosed with uterine fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that develop in and around the uterus, but not every fibroid diagnosis is the same. Did you know that fibroids can range in size from almost undetectable to the size of a grapefruit or, in extreme cases, the size of a fully grown fetus? 

While any size of fibroid can cause potential complications, common sense comes into play here: the bigger the uterine fibroid, the larger an impact it is likely to have on a woman’s health. This is especially true when it comes to side effects like weight gain and uterine bloating. 

Weight Gain with Fibroids
While most women will seek treatment early on in the fibroid process, some tumors grow to the “giant” size of 25 pounds or more–that’s a lot of extra weight to carry around! In fact, the largest ever recorded fibroid weighed a whopping 140 pounds! 

Of course, a woman’s uterus expands alongside larger fibroids. Even women with grapefruit-sized tumors will appear to gain more weight than just the extra pounds of their tumors. Larger fibroids can stretch a woman’s uterus to the point where she appears to be 4-5 months pregnant, not a look most women seek outside of pregnancy! 

Seeking Fibroid Treatment or Removal
Because larger fibroids can take such a toll on a woman’s health, it’s important to determine the size of a tumor before deciding on the course of treatment. 

Women with large fibroids should have them imaged for more exact measurements; once your doctor has those facts, you can decide together whether the tumor should be removed. There is, of course, a risk in delaying or foregoing treatment: left alone, your fibroids are likely to keep growing, causing more symptoms and unpleasant side effects.

Larger fibroids may also lead to complications such as: 

  • Impacting the uterine lining: fibroids found on the inside of your uterus may change the shape of your uterine lining. If not removed, they can impact your ability to become or stay pregnant.
  • Uterine damage: Fibroids that are larger than a three-month-old fetus can cause damage to your uterus during surgical removal, and should be treated before reaching that size. 
  • Ruptures: Very large fibroids may burst inside you, causing sudden, extreme pain. 
  • Blood clots: Though it is extremely uncommon, very large fibroids can cause you to develop a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in your lung), a potentially fatal complication. 

Because unchecked fibroid growth can lead to many complications, it’s important to begin exploring your treatment options as soon as you receive a diagnosis. Once you know how large your fibroids already are, you and your doctor can decide if they should be surgically removed or if other, less invasive options, may help you find relief from your symptoms. 

#WCW: Evette Dionne is a Fibroid Health Warrior

As Houston fibroid specialists determined to deliver minimally invasive treatment options for women, we often have an uphill battle. Many doctors don’t inform their patients that Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is one of their  treatment options (it is a procedure that starves fibroids of blood and oxygen, effectively killing them, through injections delivered via catheter.) Because not all doctors are on our team, many women with fibroids believe they must be treated by surgery. This week, we’ve discovered one woman who, after her own diagnosis, joined our fight to help fibroid patients learn their options. Here’s to you Evette Dionne, our Woman Crush of the Week! 

The Making of a Fibroid Warrior

For several years now Ms. Dionne, who happens to be editor in chief of Bitch Media, has been dealing with fibroids–non cancerous tumors that develop in and on the uterus. During that time, she has always felt comfortable advocating for her own best healthcare, but Dionne also realizes that not every woman is equally capable of doing so. Still, there wasn’t much she thought she could do–until one common fibroid-sufferer experience changed everything. 

 Rcently, Dionne had a two week menstrual period, something that’s not so unusual for women with fibroid tumors. She decided to tweet about it, because so many black women like herself suffer from fibroids, but don’t earn their doctors attention, leaving them with fibroids so large their only treatment option is hysterectomy. In her tweet, Dionne said: “Nearly every Black woman I know has fibroids, and nearly all of their doctors have told them it’s nothing to worry about. That’s a lie. You should be concerned, monitoring the fibroid’s growth through transvaginal ultrasounds, and getting second opinions.”

Since sending out that tweet, Dionne has launched a mini Twitter series on fibroid care, hoping her stewardship will help other Black women receive the best possible fibroid care. 

Finding the Right Balance Between Monitoring and Removing Fibroids
Diagnosed in 2015 with fibroids, Dionne tells Prevention magazine that she visits her gynecologist every six months for an ultrasound to monitor her fibroid growth. She also gets annual biopsies to make sure she’s shedding her uterine lining each month, and to ensure there are no cancerous cells in her uterus.

Still, Dionne says, some of her symptoms are very difficult to manage. “My doctor has experimented with different medications to control the bleeding, and so far, none have worked as intended. At some point, I will have to consider having the fibroid removed to eliminate the symptoms,” she says.

We support Dionne in her fibroid struggle, and we hope that, when the time comes for her to address the root cause of her symptom, she will be vocal in illuminating the surgical and non-surgical options available to her and other women suffering from their fibroid symptoms. 

Can I Slow Down Fibroid Growth?

Many women with fibroids have questions: why did I get this kind of tumor? How fast will it grow? What can I do to slow down or stop the growth in my fibroids?

While we don’t know what causes women to develop fibroids, we do have an understanding of what these tumors are and what factors may increase your risk of developing fibroids. We also know certain factors that affect fibroid growth. To help you gain a better understanding, let’s start at the beginning, with a basic explanation of fibroids.

This x-ray reveals a fairly large uterine fibroid

What are Fibroids? 

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in the wall of your uterus. Fibroids can grow alone or in clusters; they vary in size, from microscopically small to rare cases where they grow to the size of fully-developed fetus.

Fibroid symptoms can include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Painful periods
  • Bloating in the pelvic region
  • Lower back pain
  • Painful sex
  • Frequent need to pee

What Can Speed Up Fibroid Growth?
While your genes will play a role in how quickly fibroids grow, hormones like estrogen and progesterone also affect the growth of these tumors. Without these two hormones, fibroids are unable to grow which is why, in the past, causing a woman to experience menopause was considered the only cure for fibroids. Thankfully, we now know better and can offer women less dramatic treatment options. 

How Big Will My Fibroids Become?

It’s difficult to know how big a fibroid tumor will become–growth varies from person to person, predict how big a fibroid will grow or what causes a fibroid to grow rapidly. In some cases, fibroids even disappear without treatment. This however, is not common: most fibroids will grow larger unless you opt for medical intervention. 

So, just how big will your fibroids become? Honestly, the size limit is based only on your body’s ability to expand. Fibroids can stretch and enlarge your uterus to accommodate their own growth. In fact, some fibroids get so big that you appear to be in the second trimester of pregnancy! 

In extreme cases, fibroids will grow so large that doctors can only treat them with surgery. For this reason, it’s important to begin researching fibroid treatment options as soon as you receive a diagnosis. 

Can I Slow Down Fibroid Growth?
Certain steps, like adopting  a fibroid-friendly diet, may slow the growth of these tumors. Research suggests that dairy products like milk, cheese and ice cream may inhibit fibroid development. Green tea has also been shown to slow fibroid growth and, in some cases, even kill off existing fibroid cells. 

For some women, the hormones in certain forms of birth control can help slow fibroid development. 

When it comes to interventions that simply slow down fibroid development, there are no guarantees…that’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that we have better treatment options available. Instead of slowing fibroid growth, interventional radiologists like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee are able to use a method known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization to cut off the fibroid’s supply of blood and oxygen. This minimally invasive treatment causes fibroids to shrink and, eventually, die. Want to know if you’re a good candidate for UFE? Just reach out to our Houston area team and we’ll be happy to set you up with a comprehensive consultation. 

Heavy Periods: They’re More Than Just Annoying

So, it’s that time of the month and, once again, you find yourself wondering how long you’ll be out of the house. Will you have access to a bathroom? Do you need to double up protection–a backup pad for your tampon, in the (likely) event that you’ll leak with just one in place?

Yes, these considerations are all hassles. Heavy periods are annoying. They can get in the way of your daily activities. But did you know that abnormally heavy menstrual cycles can lead to more serious medical problems? 

It’s true! One potential side-effect of abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) is anemia, a condition caused by insufficient red blood cells in your blood. If anemia persists over time, it can even cause organ damage in your body! For our purposes, AUB is characterized by the need to change your tampon or pad every hour, or by symptoms like overnight soiling of your bedding. During a normal period, for comparisons, you can expect to change your tampon or pad every three hours–some women may even go longer, especially towards the end of the cycle. 

When AUB occurs for no apparent reason, certain types of birth control, like the Mirena IUD or the Nuva Ring, can help staunch the blood flow.Oral contraception and NSAIDs like ibuprofen may also help. 

If, however, AUB is a symptom of a different, underlying condition, relief will only come from treating the cause of the bleeding. Many women who experience abnormally heavy periods may actually have one or more fibroids (a fibroid is a non-cancerous growth that develops in a woman’s uterus, often causing AUB and other symptoms or side effects.)

The most important thing to remember is this: AUB is not a cause for embarrassment, but it something worth discussing with your doctor. Not only will starting the conversation simplify your daily period routines, it may also help you stave off dangerous blood loss and far more serious compli

 

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