Uterine or pelvic pain can arise from many conditions, including uterine fibroids. Although these growths are usually benign, they can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like heavy menstrual periods and intolerable pain.
New England Women's Healthcare offers a quick evaluation of your symptoms and personalized treatments when you have pelvic pain. Leading our team are eight expert OB/GYN doctors who are very experienced in treating various women's health problems.
What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign growths that appear on and around your uterus. Your body forms uterine fibroids from connective tissue and muscle.
Typically, fibroids aren't a sign of uterine cancer, although they're sometimes called benign tumors. Several different types of fibroids affect your uterus, including:
- Subserosal: Forms on the outside of the uterus
- Intramural: Grows in the muscular uterine wall
- Submucosal: Bulges from the inner lining of the uterus
- Pedunculated: Attaches to the uterine wall by a peduncle, a stalk-like growth
You can have one uterine fibroid or several in a cluster. They can vary in size and location in your uterus or pelvis area. While some people have symptoms, many women are asymptomatic, so they have no idea that fibroids exist.
You're at an increased risk for uterine fibroids if you have a family history or are obese. Other risk factors include getting your period at a young age and the late onset of menopause.
Understanding the warning signs
Many women have uterine fibroids and don't even know it. Small fibroids don't often cause symptoms and don't regularly affect your life. However, larger fibroids may lead to several warning signs, including:
1. Increased urination
You might feel like you have to urinate more often when you have uterine fibroids. This happens when the fibroid is big enough to put pressure on your bladder.
2. Pain during sex
The fullness in your abdomen that fibroids cause can also lead to discomfort during sex. Not everyone feels this, but if you have pain with intercourse, getting evaluated for uterine fibroids is a good idea.
3. Heavy bleeding
Hormones frequently cause uterine fibroids, causing them to grow with your menstrual cycle. You can experience heavy menstrual bleeding, large clots, and bleeding between cycles when you have one or more uterine fibroids.
4. Low back pain
Pelvic pain and low back pain are common early symptoms of uterine fibroids. The pain may be sharp or feel similar to your menstrual cramps but worse.
5. Full feeling in the abdomen
As uterine fibroids grow, they occupy more space in your uterus and pelvic area. You may feel like your belly is full, as if you’ve eaten a large meal.
What's the next step?
The New England Women's Healthcare team recommends seeking a consultation if you have any unusual symptoms, such as pelvic pain or abnormal bleeding. We ask about your symptoms at your appointment and perform a pelvic exam to rule out other problems.
If we suspect your symptoms are related to uterine fibroids, we order imaging studies such as an ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan of your abdomen. In most cases, these studies are enough for a diagnosis.
However, in some cases, you may need a surgical procedure for our team to give you a definitive diagnosis of uterine fibroids. Common types of surgery for this condition include a hysteroscopy or a laparoscopy.
Uterine fibroids are treatable and are noncancerous in most cases. When we diagnose you with uterine fibroids, we provide you with several helpful treatments, which include:
- Hormone supplements
- Endometrial ablation
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Uterine fibroid embolization
These treatments are often enough to manage your symptoms and provide long-term relief. However, if you still have symptoms, we may recommend a total hysterectomy to relieve your pain.
If you're concerned about uterine fibroids, don't hesitate to call the New England Women's Healthcare team today or make an appointment online at one of our conveniently located offices in Wilmington and Woburn, Massachusetts.