Fibroids 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.