Unfortunately, it is normal for women to suffer through their monthly menstrual cycles for years before
learning their pain and other symptoms were caused by fibroids. Fibroids are a common condition, but
they aren’t commonly talked about. Some common signs of fibroids are:
1. My periods are so heavy.
The most common symptom caused by fibroids is heavy periods that:
– Last longer than seven days
– Cause women to soak through tampons or pads faster than one every hour for several hours
in a row.
Women with heavy periods often say, “I didn’t know my periods were not normal, because they were
normal for me.” By the time a woman is 40, they’ve likely had their period for 25 years, that’s a
long time to get used to dealing with heavy periods.
Often, women with fibroids report that they have “always had a heavier period”, but when they got
older, it got heavier and heavier. Unplanned spotting or bleeding between periods are also
common with fibroids. Some women report that they bleed for weeks and weeks in a row.
2. I’m so tired.
When women have heavy periods due to fibroids, they can feel physically weak because they lose too
much blood during their period, causing anemia and tiredness. Women may also feel
lightheaded and dizzy. In the worst cases, some women need blood transfusions because of the
3. I look pregnant, but I’m not!
Fibroids can also cause “bulkiness” or swelling in the abdomen. Bulk symptoms mean the fibroids are
large enough that the uterus is causing the stomach to extend outward. When women
experience bulk symptoms from fibroids, they often feel forced to wear loose clothing to avoid
uncomfortable questions about looking pregnant. Feeling insecure is common.
4. I’m in pain.
Fibroids can hurt when they are large and put pressure on other organs. This can mean back pain, leg
pain, rib cage pain and pain in other areas. Sometimes women feel constant pain, sometimes it
comes and goes. Fibroids may also be present with other painful gynecologic conditions such as
endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
One thing that may be embarrassing to talk about but is common in many women with fibroids is pain
during sex, especially when fibroids are located near the cervix. Fibroids can cause general
uncomfortable sensations, pangs and tenderness. Pain during sex can also lead to disruption in
social and relationships. Women who experience pain during sex due to fibroids also report
feeling alone, embarrassed and self-conscious.
5. I have to go to the bathroom all the time.
Frequent urination can occur when fibroids put pressure on the bladder. Sometimes women with
fibroids notice they can’t finish a TV show, or get through their workout without needing to go
to the bathroom. Some women also experience difficulty urinating and constipation.
6. I plan my life around my period.
Women with fibroids often find themselves planning their lives around their period. Whether it’s
because they have heavy flows, painful or long periods, long periods or a combination, they
dread their cycle.
Do any of these situations sound like what you are experiencing? We want to hear your stories! Contact
us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interviews with women dealing with fibroids (names redacted for privacy). Elaine Horton. 2018-2019