Could fibroids be responsible for my heavy bleeding?

Ah, periods: one of the great joys of being a woman, right? (I’m kidding, obviously.) Bleeding for several days out of every month is generally inconvenient, often messy, and not at all fun… But it is a fact of life. However, not all periods are created equal; some women have heavier periods than others.

While “heavy” is somewhat of a subjective term, there are certain characteristics that distinguish abnormally heavy periods. Bleeding that could be described as “gushing” or “flooding”, for example, is not normal. Going through eight or more pads or tampons in a single day is also not normal. If you’re experiencing atypical bleeding of this nature, uterine fibroids may be the source of the problem.

Heavy bleeding is one of the most common symptoms associated with fibroids. Research has shown that women with large fibroids are two and a half times more likely to require eight or more pads or tampons on their heaviest days than women who do not have fibroids. In a study examining the link between heavy bleeding and uterine fibroids, researchers interviewed a randomly-selected group of women between the ages of 35 and 39 about their heavy menstrual bleeding (also known as menorrhagia). Of those women who were diagnosed with fibroids, 46% described having experienced “gushing” or “flooding” during their period, while only 28% of women without fibroids reported bleeding of that nature.

Why fibroids can cause excessive bleeding is unclear. However, there are plenty of theories: some experts in the field of Gynecology believe that intramural fibroids (those that grow inside the walls of the uterus) stretch the lining of the uterus, enabling more of it to be shed during menstruation. Another theory suggests that the bleeding results from fibroids impinging upon veins in the uterus, creating pressure that dilates veins in the endometrium which, during menstruation, increases blood loss. One group of researchers identified small irregularities in the contractions of uterine veins surrounding fibroids and concluded that, since the contraction of these veins plays a role in regulating blood loss, the heavy bleeding was the result of this phenomenon. None of these theories have been universally accepted as an explanation for the link between fibroids and heavy bleeding, but as fibroid research continues, a clear answer may soon emerge.

Whether your heavy bleeding is attributable to fibroids or a different issue, it can lead to further problems if left untreated, particularly anemia. An iron deficiency associated with excessive blood loss, anemia is characterized by symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, and headache. To prevent complications of heavy bleeding like anemia, women who experience especially heavy periods should consult a gynecologist right away; if you need help finding a gynecologist, our Physician Finder tool can help you identify qualified doctors in your area.

Sources:

  1. Istre, O. “Management of symptomatic fibroids: conservative surgical treatment modalities other than abdominal or laparoscopic myomectomy”, Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2008;Vol. 22, No. 4, p. 737
  2. Wegienka G, et al. “Self-reported heavy bleeding associated with uterine leiomyomata”. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2003, Vol 101: pp. 431–437
  3. Burbank, F. Fibroids, Menstruation, Childbirth, and Evolution: The Fascinating Story of Uterine Blood Vessels, p. 107. Wheatmark, 2009. Tucson, AZ.
  4. Heavy Menstrual Bleeding in Fibroids” Fibroid.net retr.12/22/14 http://www.fibroid.net/heavy-menstrual-bleeding-in-fibroids
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Fibroid Pain | Options for Uterine Fibroid Pain Relief

Managing-Fibroid-Pain--Your-Options-for-Pain-Relief-and-Treatment_blog-pic_LI-00-0243-AManaging Fibroid Pain: Your Options for Pain Relief and Treatment

Uterine fibroids, also known as myomas, fibromyomas and leiomyomas, are small growths that occur in and on the muscle tissue of your uterus. They can be so small they cannot be seen with the naked eye or so large that they cause pressure on your diaphragm, bladder or rectum. Approximately three out of every four women will develop fibroid tumors, usually during their childbearing years. This type of tumor almost never becomes cancerous, according to the Mayo Clinic, but they can cause many symptoms, including pain.

Painkillers

The first line of defense against abdominal and back fibroid pain is over the counter– or OTC — painkillers. Aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen all ease the milder forms of pain associated with fibroids. Aspirin and ibuprofen also relieve inflammation, while acetaminophen does not. Read the labels of all OTC medications to make sure that they are designed to alleviate your particular symptoms.

Prescription medications such as acetaminophen with codeine can help ease pain that is too severe for over the counter medications. With increased potency come increased risks ranging from enhanced side effects to the possibility of addiction. Tempting as it may be to ask for the most powerful painkillers your doctor is willing to prescribe, it is best to start with the mildest form and give it time to work. Increase potency and dosages in the smallest increments possible.

Non-Surgical Options

If painkillers are not easing the symptoms of fibroid pain and you are experiencing extremely heavy periods that last more than seven days, you may want to consider an intra-uterine device, or IUD. These are most often used as a method of birth control, but the progesterone some types contain and release can reduce heavy bleeding. The type of fibroids you have must not be distorting the shape of your uterus for an IUD to be effective and safe.

There are two other non-surgical procedures for dealing with fibroids that are worth a little personal research. Uterine Artery Embolization uses a tiny catheter inserted through a small incision in the abdomen to inject particles into the blood vessels feeding each fibroid tumor. This causes the tumor to shrink and die.

The second procedure is known as ExAblate. It uses focused ultrasound waves to break down the tissues of the fibroids, destroying them.

Surgical Options

In cases of extreme fibroid pain, unmanageable periods and effects on your diaphragm, bladder and rectum, you may want to consider surgery. This option can range from removing only the fibroids to removing the entire uterus, which is called a hysterectomy. While this used to be the standard medical response to fibroid tumors, most medical professionals see it only as a last resort.

One innovative and effective alternative to a hysterectomy that recently became available is the Acessa System. This system uses a laparoscopic procedure and is able to shrink or completely eliminate fibroids while keeping the uterus protected and healthy. The procedure also can be done without an overnight hospital stay, has a short recovery time and produces little scarring.

Alternative and Complementary Options

If you prefer the methods of alternative and complementary medicine, the prevailing theory is to avoid all inflammation-causing foods such as alcohol, dairy, meat and sugar. In addition, make use of the phytoestrogens found in plants that lower your body’s natural estrogen levels, most notably soy. Increase your intake of both A and B vitamins and if you are having heavy periods, take an iron supplement. All of these methods cannot only ease pain, but they may help to reduce the length and severity of your periods.

Women’s bodies are as unique as their personalities, so what works for your best friend – or even your sister – may not work for you. Relief is available, so don’t be afraid to try several different methods of pain and symptom relief until you find the one that works for you.

Know Your Options

It is a good idea to discuss all available treatments for fibroids with a health care professional if you feel you may have the symptoms of uterine fibroid tumors, or if you have been diagnosed with uterine fibroid tumors.

Click on Physician Finder to find an Acessa-trained physician near you to see if the Acessa procedure is right for you. Or for more information, please contact Acessa Health at 877.412.3828.
Sources

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/uterine-fibroids/DS00078
  2. http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/uterine-fibroids-and-hysterectomy
  3. http://umm.edu/news-and-events/news-releases/2009/a-new-treatment-option-for-uterine-fibroids
  4. http://www.health.ny.gov/community/adults/women/uterine_fibroids/
  5. https://www.acessaprocedure.com/2013/04/16/fibroid-pain-how-to-cope/
  6. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/151405.php

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Fibroid Pain – How To Cope

Fibroid_Pain-How_to_Cope_LI-00-0161-AFibroids are the most common type of pelvic growth, affecting up to 30 percent of women at some time in their lives. As fibroids grow differently in every woman, treatments differ in every person. The amount of fibroid pain does not always depend on the size of the fibroid but is more often determined by the location of the growth.
Although fibroids are made from muscle tissue as found in the uterus, they are not only found within the uterine cavity. Fibroids can also grow outside the uterus, in the uterine walls and become attached to the uterus on a stem. When fibroids grow outside of the uterus, they may affect other organs.

  • If the fibroid is pushing down the rectum, it can make bowel movements difficult causing constipation and pain when defecating.
  • A fibroid growing toward the bladder may cause frequent urination along with pain or difficulty urinating.
  • In the rare cases when a fibroid grows very large, it can affect the ureter (the tube connecting the kidney and bladder). This leads to painful urination, urinary urgency and fibroid pain on one side of the body. This can lead to kidney damage in the future. In these cases, surgery is often required.

Fibroid Pain Can Vary

Fibroid pain can range from mild to chronic requiring surgery to relieve the patient from symptoms. Along with pelvic pain, lower back pain and dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain), fibroids can cause an abnormally heavy menstrual flow and even infertility in severe cases. Usually, fibroids shrink and pain begins to decrease at the onset of menopause.

Ways To Manage Fibroid Pain

In most cases, fibroid pain is mild and easily treated through over the counter drugs such as Aspirin, Tylenol or Advil. In addition, heat pads placed on painful areas can help to ease discomfort. If the above medications are ineffective, it is necessary for the woman to consult her medical practitioner who can prescribe NSAIDs to control mild to moderate fibroid pain.

Many women also find alternative therapies effective in providing natural pain relief. Holistic therapies that have found to reduce fibroid pain include hypnosis, acupuncture and herbal medicines. Symptoms may also be controlled through stress reduction techniques, such as breathing exercises and meditation, practiced daily to relieve tension.

Fibroid pain can also present a problem during sexual intercourse when pressure is applied to the abdomen or when the fibroid is pressed during penetration. This can be resolved by finding the most comfortable position.

In some cases, gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists may be able to cause fibroids to diminish in size although the effects are not always permanent. Another option is hormone treatments, such as progesterone injections or birth control pills, which can prevent fibroids from increasing further in size.

When all other methods fail and fibroid pain is so severe that it begins to affect daily living, surgery is often the necessary option. Patients may be required to undergo a myomectomy, hysterectomy, uterine fibroid embolization orendometrial ablation. While surgery is very effective in most cases, some procedures such as hysterectomy and endometrial ablation can leave women infertile.

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