Fibroids are benign tumors made up of uterine muscle tissue. Fibroids that grow in the muscular wall of your uterus and don’t bulge inward or outward are called intramural (i.e., inside the wall) fibroids. Submucosal fibroids are those that bulge into the cavity of your uterus, while subserosal fibroids bulge outward, toward the exterior of your uterus.
Fibroids can be different sizes and shapes, ranging from microscopic to as large as a grapefruit. Some fibroids are what’s called “pedunculated,” which means they hang from a little stem of muscle tissue.
No matter what type you have, uterine fibroids are common. By age 50, about 80% of women have had some kind of fibroid. At Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida, our compassionate OB/GYNs — Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD — don’t recommend treatment for fibroids unless they cause symptoms.
Are your fibroids symptomatic? Below are signs that they could be.
If your fibroids are large enough, they may put pressure on your bladder. You may find that you have to urinate frequently, or that your bladder becomes painfully engorged if you’re not in easy reach of a toilet.
Urinating at night may become a problem, too, especially if you have to urinate more than once. When nocturnal urination interrupts your sleep, you don’t get the rest you need to function at your best or produce the hormones that keep you healthy.
Fibroids provide more surface area for uterine tissue to grow. Therefore, when it’s time to shed the lining of your uterus, you may bleed for longer than is normal or healthy.
If you have to change your tampon or pad every two hours or less, your fibroids could be the reason. Menstrual clots are a sign of fibroids, too. Unchecked heavy bleeding can lead to complications, such as anemia.
The pressure of large fibroids could cause discomfort in your pelvic region. Sometimes the pain is “referred,” which means that you feel it in your lower back rather than the front of your pelvis or lower abdomen.
Just as fibroids can press against your bladder, they can also press against your bowels. Frequent constipation could be a sign that your fibroids are too large and should either be shrunken with hormones or removed.
Sex should be pleasurable, not painful. If you have fibroids, however, the extra pressure on your uterus can make intercourse uncomfortable.
Although many women can have healthy pregnancies despite their fibroids, large fibroids may interfere with your ability to become pregnant. Some fibroids can even cause miscarriages. Women with fibroids have a six-times greater risk of delivering their baby through cesarean section compared with women who don’t have fibroids.
If your fibroids interfere with your quality of life, we recommend treatment. Depending on their size, we may first advise hormonal therapy, which could shrink them.
If your fibroids don’t respond, we may remove them with a choice of several procedures, many of which are performed in the comfort of our own offices. Very large, symptomatic fibroids that drastically affect your quality of life may need to be removed via hysterectomy.
You don’t have to put up with the pain and discomfort of uterine fibroids. Find out what type of fibroid treatment is best for you by contacting the Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville office nearest you.