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Signs and Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids

Acessa Health | May 13, 2019

Although many women with uterine fibroids don't experience symptoms, those that do often find they are painful and uncomfortable.

Every year, nearly 6.3 million women have a diagnosis for uterine fibroids, which are non-cancerous growths of the uterus.1 Women who do have uterine fibroids (also called leiomyomas or myomas) often find them difficult to live with, as they cause many symptoms related to pain and heavy menstrual bleeding.3

In the US, between 15-30% of women who develop fibroids will experience significant symptoms and suffering as a result of their fibroids.2 At Acessa Health, we developed and offer the Acessa procedure with the Acessa ProVu system as a minimally-invasive way to treat uterine fibroids symptoms and spare a woman’s uterus. Before you talk to your doctor and figure out which fibroid treatment option is best for you, it can be helpful to learn exactly what might be happening to your body because of fibroids.


We believe it is important that women are armed with knowledge about uterine fibroids, and their signs and symptoms. There are a lot of wonderful overviews about uterine fibroids3 to start to learn what these fibroids are all about.

When determining your best course of action for uterine fibroids, confirming the presence of fibroids is typically the first step. 3 While fibroids are common, many won’t experience symptoms immediately or severe enough to even know they exist. 2  Countless women will think one of the many symptoms they experience are unrelated to fibroids, especially some of the less severe (but not life-altering) ones. 2   There are many kinds of symptoms related to the different ways your body experiences fibroids. 3

Fibroids come in various sizes and shapes and can be found in different places inside and around the uterus. 3 The types of fibroids include submucosal (attached to the inner part of the uterus), subserosal (pushing out from uterus, often onto the bladder) and intramural (in the uterine wall) fibroids. Some women will also have a type of subserosal fibroid called pedunculated fibroids that attaches to the uterus with a stalk. 3

Uterine fibroids vary within the body and over time. While some may shrink, others can enlarge and change in size and density sporadically, which can cause even more pain. 3

While most fibroids are benign, noncancerous growths, that does not mean they are without symptoms, many of which can be persistent and painful. 3 Symptoms can run from bloating and swelling in your abdomen, to frequent urination and constipation, to long and heavy periods and constant pelvic pain. 3,6 These symptoms can be frustrating, exhausting, painful, and life-altering. 3 We believe every woman deserves to live a life without fibroids debilitating symptoms.

With all the possibilities of what fibroids can do to your body and their effect on organs, and hormones, we want to present some of the most common symptoms for uterine fibroids.

Uterine Fibroids Symptoms3,6
  • Heavy or extreme periods
  • Periods lasting more than a week
  • Regular spotting between periods
  • Constant pelvic pressure or pain
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Constipation
  • Back and leg pain
  • Painful sex
  • Bloating or swelling in the lower abdomen
Heavy or extreme periods

Heavy or extreme periods are often the first sign of uterine fibroids. As the fibroids grow, they affect the uterine wall and cause heavy bleeding. 3

Periods lasting more than a week

Likely caused by estrogen and progesterone, hormones connected to the uterus that may affect fibroid growth, fibroids will cause your period to last much longer than other women without fibroids, often lasting ten days or more.3 This is usually not a one-off experience; women have known their periods to last longer indefinitely, until fibroids are properly treated. Longer lasting periods can also cause anemia, or an iron deficiency, and cause lightheadedness and fatigue.6

 Regular spotting between periods

As fibroids cause increased uterine bleeding during your periods, the same changes to the uterine wall can cause sporadic and unplanned spotting at random times. 3

Frequent urge to urinate

Uterine fibroids, especially subserosal fibroids attached to the outside of the uterus, will push against other organs and body parts as they expand to fill the space inside your body.6 One of those organs closest to your uterus is your bladder. This pushing on the bladder causes an urge and need to urinate much more frequently than women without symptomatic uterine fibroids.6

Difficulty urinating

While you might feel the need to urinate more frequently, fibroids can often contract and pinch the bladder, making it harder to urinate once you feel the urge to go.6

Constipation

Similarly, growing fibroids in certain locations can also push against your rectum and cause issues with regular and painful constipation. 6

Back and leg pain

Beyond general pain and cramping that comes along with your period, fibroids can also create unrelated soreness and aches along your lower back and down into your legs.6 While this can sometimes be the result of fibroids pushing against your spine.

Painful sex

Uterine pressure caused by growth of fibroids can cause general uncomfortable sensations, pangs, and tenderness during sex, while growth near or in the cervix can lead to sharper pain and additional bleeding.2

Bloating or swelling in the lower abdomen

Often the most outwardly noticeable symptom of fibroids, especially larger and multiple fibroids, is the bulking of the lower abdomen, usually right above the pelvic bone.7

Symptoms Quiz

While each and every one of these uterine fibroid symptoms could be explained by a number of different issues, one potential cause may be fibroids. 3 Exploring all the symptoms to uterine fibroids can be helpful in knowing what might be happening to your body. At Acessa Health, we want to help you understand your risk and options, so we want to offer our own Uterine Fibroids Symptoms Quiz. Note: Information contained on this site is not to be used as a substitute for talking to your doctor. You should always talk to your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

After reading this blog, you might be asking “I have to urinate more often. Does that mean I have fibroids?” While you may, fibroids are often expressed in a constellation of symptoms and experiences. We hope these resources can help you on your journey.  

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The Acessa Procedure is a quick, proven, and minimally-invasive fibroid treatment option that will spare your uterus, unlike a hysterectomy.(8)

The Acessa procedure | Treatment for Your Uterine Fibroids

Your uterine fibroid symptoms may vary, and as such, might require a wide array of treatment options. We’ve put together dozens of scientific papers and helped publish research about uterine fibroids treatment out there and the efficacy of what’s available. For some, medication can shrink fibroids and provide enough relief of pain and frustration.6 Some doctors will recommend myomectomy, uterine artery embolization (UAE), partial hysterectomy, or hysterectomy as more aggressive ways to treat fibroids.6 Research is showing that uterus-conserving treatment is on the rise5 as more options are available.4

For that reason, the Acessa procedure offers women with uterine fibroids symptoms a minimally invasive, outpatient treatment for most types of fibroids. 8 It uses laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation to destroy fibroids by applying controlled energy through a small needle array. 8 The destroyed fibroid tissue will then be reabsorbed without harming the surrounding healthy uterine tissue. 5,8

No matter your symptoms and severity, it’s a great next step to educate yourself about all the treatment options available. You can plan a visit with a physician who offers all the options, including Acessa, to learn more about your symptoms, treatment options and what you can do next.

Sources:

  1. Internal Analysis based on US Census population information total population women aged 15-64 (104 million women), Kaiser Family Foundation information for the number of Medicaid (25 million) and commercial lives (79 million), Wakely Actuarial Firm claims analysis for Fibroid ICD-10 diagnosis code prevalence in commercial claim data (6% of women in data set sought care for fibroid related diagnosis code) and internal assumption for Medicaid prevalence (6%)
  2. Borah BJ, Nicholson WK, Bradley L, Stewart EA. The impact of uterine leiomyomas: a national survey of affected women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2013:209:319.e1-319.e20
  3. Uterine fibroids. (2019, December 10). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/symptoms-causes/syc-20354288
  4. Baird DD, Dunson DB, Hill MV, Cousins D, Schechtman JM. High cumulative incidence of uterine leiomyoma in black and white women: ultrasound evidence. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003; 188:100 –107.
  5. Havryliuk, Y., Setton, R., Carlow, J. J., & Shaktman, B. D. (2017). Symptomatic Fibroid Management: Systematic Review of the Literature. JSLS : Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons21(3), e2017.00041. https://doi.org/10.4293/JSLS.2017.00041
  6. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Uterine fibroids: Overview. 2014 Oct 22 [Updated 2017 Nov 16]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279535/
  7. Wise, L. A., & Laughlin-Tommaso, S. K. (2016). Epidemiology of Uterine Fibroids: From Menarche to Menopause. Clinical obstetrics and gynecology59(1), 2 24. https://doi.org/10.1097/GRF.0000000000000164
  8. SG Chudnoff, et al. Outpatient Procedure for the Treatment and Relief of Symptomatic Uterine Myomas. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2013;121(5):1075–82.

Acessa Health encourages patients to seek medical attention for typical and atypical symptoms associated with fibroids to help achieve and maintain good health with as high a quality of life as possible. Although many patients may benefit from the Acessa Procedure, this treatment is not for everyone and results may vary. You should talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks and whether this treatment is right for you. Information contained on this site is not to be used as a substitute for talking to your doctor. You should always talk to your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

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