Uterine fibroids have not had a lot of research done on them. Likely they are benign however, they can be very painful. Any woman who has a fibroid will tell you how much discomfort and pain they are in not to mention the excessive bleeding that they endure on a monthly basis.
While they may be benign, their symptoms may not be quite so benign. In fact, they may be downright miserable.
According to statistics, at least 25 percent of all women will have fibroids at some point in time or another in their life. One-third of those women will have pain and abnormal bleeding issues. while the typical menstrual cycle is from three to seven days and starts heavy and then lightens up, a fibroid may make the period last longer and be much much heavier. The period may even appear to start and stop at will for entire months on end.
One of the signs of a fibroid or fibroids includes bleeding more than eight days and having more than two or three of those days of heavy bleeding at the beginning of your cycle. You may also experience a lot of clots during your cycle. If you haven’t seen a doctor, it’s time. There are other reasons for such symptoms and you want to have those ruled out.
Fibroids Effect On Your Cycle
During the month, your uterus will go through a cycle. A thickened inner lining will ready in preparation for a pregnancy. That lining will then be shed if you do not become pregnant. This shedding is your period. However, if you have a fibroid on your uterine wall or that is protruding into your uterus cavity, there will be more lining created. With a thicker lining, you’ll take longer to shed it on your cycle. When it comes to fibroids, it’s not just the size of the fibroid, it’s also the location that can have an impact.
Larger sized fibroids will give you a stronger feeling or sensation of pressure during your cycle as the blood flows to your fibroid(s). This will put more pressure on your uterine wall. It can create more blood flow and pain. As your cycle wanes you’ll feel more cramping while your uterus prepares to shed the lining. This creates the sensation that you’re going to start your cycle and it will be more noticeable due to the heavier blood flow.
In addition to causing longer cycles, a fibroid can also cause you to bleed during the entire month. This can cause anemia which is what happens when your body doesn’t have enough iron stores.
Ways To Ease The Pain Of Fibroids
The course of treatment will depend on greatly upon your level of pain and bleeding.
Doctors will recommend a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, also referred to as a NSAID. This would include ibuprofen such as Motrin or Advil, they may also include Excedrin. These are also prostaglandin inhibitors or rather, they will reduce the pain levels by counteracting the prostaglandins that cause the pain. Doctors may also suggest an iron supplement to help counteract the anemia.
While doctors aren’t entirely sure of the cause of fibroids, they know that hormone levels, especially estrogen, play a very large role in their creation. As estrogen levels rise in pregnancy, a fibroid may grow and thrive. Upon estrogen declining such as during menopause, fibroids will shrink. Therefore the doctor may suggest some hormone therapy to alter your body’s production of estrogen.
Birth control pills are one way that doctors will prescribe hormones. This can help to reduce the heavy bleeding and the cramping that goes along with fibroids. Birth control pills won’t, however, reduce the size of fibroids. Doctors may also prescribe hormones such as progesterone injections like Depo-Provera or an IUD containing progesterone such as Mirena.
Other medications may include gonadotropin-releasing hormones or GnRH agonists like Lupron which may temporarily shrink the size of hormones. Often doctors use these prior to surgical removal of fibroids in order to lower the risk of bleeding during the surgery. This can make it easier for the surgeon to remove the tumors. In a nonsurgical situation, the doctor will sometimes prescribe this as a way to give your body a break from the heavier flow and an opportunity to recover from anemia. The GnRH will trick the body into believing it is in menopause and it may also have side effects such as hot flashes and thinning of the bones. while clearly not a permanent solution, it is often prescribed for a six-month time frame to help the body recover.
Many women have found great relieve with hot packs or hot applications on the abdomen. Acupuncture is also a common approach for treatment.
Treatment options will vary by age. If symptoms are manageable using pain relief many women opt to wait it out and avoid treating the fibroids or having them removed. Women who are close to menopause or premenopausal may opt for medication to shut down the estrogen until menopause starts and the fibroids shrink all on their own. Younger women may opt for a surgical procedure such as a focused ultrasound which may help shrink the fibroids and save their reproductive organs.