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Fibroids

Symptoms Of Fibroids

Last modified: 
22/03/2012 - 15:23

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

For many women, fibroids cause no problems. More than half of women with fibroids do not know they have them until their doctor tells them so.

The most common problems caused by fibroids are:

  • Heavy or long menstrual periods. Periods may last more than seven days and menstrual flow may be very heavy. Some women find they need to change sanitary napkins or tampons so often that they cannot function normally during their period. Heavy menstrual flow can sometimes lead to anemia.
  • Pressure on other organs. Large fibroids may press on organs in the pelvis.
    • If fibroids press on the bladder, a woman may feel the urge to urinate frequently. She may pass only small amounts of urine and she may feel as though she has not completely emptied her bladder.
    • If fibroids press on the bowel, she may feel constipated or full after eating only a small amount of food.
    • If fibroids press on one or both ureters (the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder), they may partially block the flow of urine. A woman may not be aware of this because it often isn't painful. Over time, however, this kind of blockage can lead to kidney infections or other serious kidney damage.
  • Pain in the pelvis. The pressure of large fibroids on other organs may cause pain in the pelvis. Sometimes, if fibroids do not get the blood flow they need to sustain themselves, they degenerate or die. This may cause severe pain lasting for days or weeks. Pain may also occur if the stalk of a fibroid twists, cutting off blood supply to the fibroid. Rarely, a fibroid may become infected and cause pain.

Need To Know

Problems like those caused by fibroids can also have other causes. It is important to rule out these other possible causes of any problems a woman is having. For example, an imbalance of hormones may cause heavy periods. A bladder infection can cause a frequent need to urinate.

 

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Fibroids

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.