Experiencing fibroid symptoms is far more common than you might think. According to the National Institutes of Health, 80 to 90 percent of African American women and 70 percent of Caucasian women will develop fibroids before the age of 50.
Since uterine fibroids are prevalent, can cause severe symptoms and can even lead to trouble getting or staying pregnant, it is important to know the warning signs of fibroid development.
But it’s also important to recognize that uterine fibroids and endometriosis can both cause similar symptoms. (Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue from your uterus, endometrium, grows in or on other parts of your body.) Like women with fibroids, women with endometriosis may experience heavy, painful periods as well as bleeding between periods. In some cases, people with endometriosis may find relief from cannabidiol, but this study suggests that the hemp extract doesn’t work for everyone. So you should exercise caution before addressing your symptoms this way without talking to your doctor.
In fact, the best way to diagnose the cause of your symptoms is to see your healthcare provider. But you can also narrow down the cause of your pelvic pain and heavy bleeding by better understanding your risk for developing fibroids.
Who is At Risk for Fibroid Symptoms?
African American women are three times more likely than caucasian women to develop fibroids; they are also more likely to develop several fibroids at a time. Other factors that could increase a woman’s risk of developing fibroids include your age (being over 40) and your weight, since obesity increases your risk. You should also learn your family history of fibroids, and understand that high blood pressure, or never having a pregnancy, could also increase your risk.
Can I Lower My Fibroid Risk?
While many factors can increase your fibroid risk, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing these non-cancerous uterine tumors. Some measures include:
- Becoming pregnant
- Balancing your hormones
- Long-term use of birth control pills or shots
- Following a fibroid friendly diet (see more here)
What are the Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?
Every case is different and some women may never experience symptoms, but a majority of women with fibroids experience at least one of these three common symptoms.
Excessive Menstrual Bleeding
The most common symptom for women with fibroid tumors is excessive bleeding while menstruating. Often times, the bleeding is prolonged, causing periods to last longer than normal. This can lead to soiling of clothing and may interfere with everyday activities.
Heavy periods are most common with intramural and submucosal fibroids. You may also pass large clots when you have fibroids. Over time, this heavy bleeding can cause health complications such as anemia.
Pelvic Pain & Pressure
Women with fibroids may feel pain in their lower abdomen. As fibroids grow larger, depending on their size and location, they may cause pain by putting pressure on organs. In addition, they could cause swelling that is often mistaken as weight gain or pregnancy.
Even small fibroids can cause pressure, depending on their location. But this symptom could also indicate adenomyosis or endometriosis. So you should see your doctor at the first sign of pressure or pain in your pelvis.
Loss of Bladder Control
Fibroids can press against the bladder causing frequent urination and even loss of bladder control. Not only can this cause a great deal of pain, it can disrupt your everyday activities. In addition, fibroid growth can place pressure on the bowel, causing constipation and bloating.
Reaching a Uterine Fibroid Diagnosis
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or these additional fibroid symptoms, schedule an immediate appointment with our fibroid specialists. Fibroids can usually be found during a simple abdominal or pelvic exam. If your doctor feels that you may have fibroids, an ultrasound or MRI may be used to confirm the diagnosis and proceed with treatment. And, if your provider rules out fibroids as the cause of your symptoms, he or she may recommend further testing to confirm or rule out an endometriosis diagnosis.
Sources: Bioidentical Hormone Health