It is important to remember that uterine fibroids are per se not inimical to health and wellbeing of a woman, unless the symptoms of uterine fibroids are so severe as to need medical attention and treatment. Uterine fibroids are the most common types of benign tumors that women can experience and they are often asymptomatic.
Fibroids are mostly benign and they do not increase risk of cancer. A majority of fibroids need no treatment, however when troublesome symptoms do manifest, you need to inform a doctor and start treatment.
The most commonly seen symptoms of uterine fibroids are-
When the fibroids are small and located in a certain way, they may have no symptoms at all and may cause no discomfort to the woman.
Most typically uterine fibroid symptoms are to do with increase of menstrual bleeding. Unusually heavy periods or periods lasting for seven or more days at a time could be a sign of submucosal fibroids that grow in the inner uterine cavity.
Pain or a feeling of pressure in the abdominal region is another one of the symptoms of uterine fibroids. This may be constant or recurrent ache or at times the pain could be very acute when the fibroids grow very large and start to die and grow seep into surrounding tissue.
Sometimes the pain could accompany sexual intercourse and painful sex can indicate the presence of fibroids.
Problems with pregnancy
Sometimes uterine fibroids, if they are large enough or located in a particular way, could inhibit pregnancy and impact a woman’s fertility negatively. Fibroids however are responsible for a woman’s infertility only in rare cases.
The symptoms of uterine fibroids may be more troublesome during an existing pregnancy. In some cases fibroids could result in a miscarriage, premature labor and delivery, and may interfere with the position of the baby in the womb.
Digestive or bladder problems
Digestive disturbances such as constipation could sometimes accompany fibroids. Some women find that the presence of fibroids places pressure on the bladder, requiring them to urinate more frequently. At times the urge to go may be present even after going to the bathroom because of incomplete emptying of the bladder and these problems could be due to subserosal fibroids which project outside the bladder and create bladder pressure.
Other symptoms of uterine fibroids
There could be backache, pain in the rectum or when passing stool if the fibroids create pressure on the nerves there.
When to see a doctor
The rule of thumb is to seek treatment if the symptoms are bothersome and interfere with regular activity or a woman’s wellbeing.
If the symptoms of uterine fibroids are severe, such as very heavy menstrual bleeding (and possible anemia), spotting in between periods, if there is sharp or severe abdominal pain that is consistent, difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement, then a doctor should be consulted. In some very rare cases, a fibroid could be cancerous in nature and hence life threatening, for which treatment should be obtained promptly.