Most women may never find out that they have uterine fibroids unless they undergo routine diagnostic examinations of the reproductive system such as an ultrasound and pelvic exams. Fibroids are often called, “Silent Attackers” since you may never find out about them unless it is too late. For this reason you have to know what are the Uterine Fibroid Symptoms to be aware.
Uterine fibroids are masses or growths that are found in the muscle lining of the uterus. Folds of discolored muscle cells repeatedly reproduce until a mass develops which is very different from the surrounding muscle tissue. Growths of fibroid tissue may grow on the lining of the uterus as well as other nearby structures of the reproductive system like the fallopian tubes. Uterine fibroids may be classified according to their location (that is why the Symptoms of uterine fibroids differ from person to person:
- Intramural fibroids are essentially found within the walls of the uterus and usually have no symptoms unless the growth becomes larger. These masses can start out small, as small as a nodule and may expand inwards causing severe damage to the uterus.
- Subserosal fibroids are growths that are located just under the outside lining of the uterus and could grow as large as it possibly can. These growths may even detach from the uterus itself.
- Submucosal fibroids are located under the surface of the inner lining of the uterus.
- Pendunculated fibroids are growths that can become long stalks located on the outside of the uterus or from the inside lining of the uterus.
Most Common Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
Typically, uterine fibroids have no symptoms but in women who do experience symptoms, here are the most common ones:
- Heavy menstrual flow – you may notice changes in your menstrual flow; there are times when the flow is average while there are times when the flow becomes too heavy to handle. This happens due to the fibroid growth that continues to develop at the walls of the uterus causing heavier periods and even prolonging menstrual periods as well.
- Longer menstrual periods – you may also notice that your periods become more than the usual five or six days; bleeding may be heavy causing fatigue and an overall feeling of tiredness which are common uterine fibroid symptoms.
- Pressure on the pelvic area – there is noticeable pressure that may also be described as a dull pain that often develops as the uterine fibroids increase in size and number.
- Back pain – this uterine fibroid symptom is characterized by a tiring and numbing back pain that may become unbearable as the fibroid increases in size. Back pain may also radiate to your thighs and legs causing nagging pain when at rest especially when lying down.
- Difficulty urinating – in cases when the uterine fibroid becomes too large or too complex, it can cause pressure to the bladder causing difficulty in emptying the bladder. You may also feel the need to urinate more frequently as the large mass presses the uterine wall causing the uterus to add pressure to the bladder.
- Other symptoms of uterine fibroid are constipation and unusual gastrointestinal problems.
Typically, as a fibroid outgrows its blood supply, it becomes to wither and die since there is less supply of nutrients to support its growth. And as the growth dies, the chemicals of the degenerating tissue seep through the lining of the uterus causing inflammatory responses like fever, acute pain and swelling of the affected area.
Uterine Fibroid Symptoms of Each Type of Fibroids
You can also determine which type of fibroids you have by the kinds of uterine fibroid symptoms that you experience. Women who suffer from prolonged menstrual periods, heavy menstrual periods and those who suffer from infertility are most likely to suffer from fibroids that grow into the inner lining of the uterus or submucosal fibroids. On the other hand, women who suffer from urinary symptoms, constipation, backaches and leg pain are more likely to suffer from fibroids that develop from the outer lining of the uterus.
Women who experience pain are more likely to have pedunculated fibroids since this type of fibroids can twist on itself leading to piercing pain. As it twists, it can reduce its blood and nutrient supply in the process causing it to wither and die.
As with any illness, early detection could increase your chances of recovery and in the case of uterine fibroids, early recognition through periodic pelvic exams can reduce the possibility of complicated uterine fibroid symptoms like pain, profuse bleeding and infertility. Women of child bearing age are thus advised to:
- Seek medical help as soon as first symptoms appear.
- Have periodic pelvic exams and complete your prenatal examinations especially ultrasound examinations when you are pregnant to detect early signs of uterine fibroid growth.
- To become self aware and monitor your monthly menstrual cycle especially the amount, frequency and intensity. Any unusual changes should be a cause for alarm.
But as mentioned, uterine fibroids are seldom life threatening and uterine fibroid symptoms often disappear on their own. However, you need to see a doctor when you experience any of these unusual symptoms:
- Pain on the pelvis, back and legs that just won’t go away even when you take pain relievers and even when you take a rest. Consult immediately when there is sudden, piercing pain radiating from the pelvis.
- Too heavy periods which is accompanied by pain, generalized weakness and fatigue.
- Bleeding even between periods accompanied by pain, fever and fatigue.
- There is difficulty and frequency in urination as well as difficulty in moving your bowels.
- There is unusual pain during intercourse.
- High fever together with severe uterine bleeding.
It’s important that women who experience these uterine fibroid symptoms seek medical help right away. Unattended bleeding can lead to shock and in worst cases, death. Sharp pain and bleeding must be resolved immediately to prevent serious complications.
Monitoring or watchful waiting is a part of checking for the fibroid’s growth and at the same time hoping that fibroids would not cause severe symptoms or develop into cancerous growths. As soon as a woman is diagnosed for uterine fibroids, she will need regular ultrasound tests and pelvic exams to monitor her condition. Treatment usually reduces the size of fibroids but do not actually prevent the fibroid from developing in the future. So, you know now what are uterine fibroid symptoms and yo can avoid any complication in the future.