Fibroid Types and Symptoms

Fibroids are non-cancerous (benign) tumors that grow from the muscle layers of the uterus and affect at least 20 percent of women sometime during their lifetime. Depending on their size and location, fibroids may cause no symptoms at all or a variety of complications.

There are four primary types of uterine fibroids, classified by location:


The most common type of fibroids, intramural fibroid tumors develop within the muscles of the uterine wall and often expand from there. When an intramural fibroid expands, it tends to make the uterus feel larger than normal and can cause excessive menstrual bleeding, prolonged menstrual cycles and clot passing, frequent urination, and back and pelvic pain caused by the additional pressure placed on surrounding organs.


The least common type of fibroids, submucosal, are located in the muscle under the uterine lining (endometrium) and may protrude into the uterine cavity. Submucosal fibroids can cause heavy bleeding, prolonged menstrual cycles, and the passing of clots. Left untreated, prolonged or excessive bleeding can cause more complicated problems, such as anemia and fatigue. Submucosal fibroids are also most closely linked to fertility problems, as large tumors can block the fallopian tubes.


Subserosal fibroids grow on the outer wall of the uterus. They can become quite large, continuing to grow outward and putting increased pressure on surrounding organs. This type of fibroid does not usually interfere with a woman’s menstrual flow or cause excessive bleeding but can cause pelvic pain and pressure.

Subserosal, as well as submucosal, fibroids can sometimes develop into pedunculated fibroids, meaning they grow on a stalk. Pedunculated fibroids can twist on the stalk, causing additional pain and pressure.


Cervical fibroids are located in the wall of the cervix, the neck of the uterus. The most common symptom is irregular or heavy bleeding. Cervical fibroids can also cause painful sexual intercourse, vaginal discharge, or trouble with urination.

Women generally have multiple fibroids, and it is possible to have more than one type, making it difficult to determine which fibroid is causing symptoms.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may have uterine fibroids:

  • painful, heavy periods
  • pelvic or back pain
  • frequent or difficult urination
  • swelling in the abdomen
  • painful intercourse

Tips for Avoiding Back Pain While Gardening

A beautiful, warm spring day is perfect for heading outside to tend to your yard and garden. After a long winter, it feels great to be out sprucing up the landscaping or planting flowers. Unfortunately, though, many of us might not feel quite so great the next morning, as an entire day of yard work has resulted in aches, pains, and muscle stiffness.

Gardening can be especially hard on the back, but it doesn’t have to be. If you take the following precautions, you can have a beautiful garden—as well as a healthy back—this spring.

Pace yourself. Set attainable goals, and don’t feel you have to finish every project in one day. Work steadily, but don’t push yourself to finish big projects that can be broken up over several days. It’s also important to take frequent breaks. Take a five-minute break every hour to stretch, relax, and drink water.

Lift with your knees. Gardening can involve some heavy lifting, whether it’s moving large pots or carrying bulky bags of soil or mulch. Bending over to pick up large items puts extra stress on the back, so be sure to bend at the knees when lifting heavy objects. Also, position yourself close to the object or task. Bring a heavy object closer to you before lifting, or walk over to what you need, rather than bending or reaching, which can put undue strain on the back.

Raise your garden. Growing flowers and vegetables in raised beds helps reduce the need to bend over for weeding and cultivating. Creating a tabletop garden or planting in pots, which you can place where they are comfortable for you to reach, are also good options, especially if you already suffer from back pain. Placing pots on caddies with casters can make the plants even easier to move.
Use long-handled tools. Look for tools with a 3- to 4-foot-long handle that can help you stay more upright—or even work while sitting down—while weeding, cultivating, or watering.

Loosen up. Remember that gardening and yard work can be strenuous activities; therefore, treat them as you’d treat any exercise or physical activity. Stretch your muscles thoroughly beforehand, and be sure to cool down when you’re done, as well, to avoid strained muscles.
Switch it up. Avoid repetitive-motion injuries by dividing up each task into sections that will allow you to switch activities, as well as your posture, often. For instance, if you’re kneeling down to weed, take a break to stand up and water some plants before starting on another section of weeding.

Listen to your body. If you garden for pleasure, it won’t be fun if you’re too sore or injured to do it. If your back (or another part of your body) starts to hurt, it’s sending you a message that it’s time to take a break. Don’t push yourself so hard that you’re hurting too much to enjoy the hobby!

Compression Therapy in Sports: Can Compression Up Your Game?

Doctors often recommend compression therapy for patients with Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)—a condition where the valves in the leg veins are not working efficiently enough to pump blood back to the heart. Medical compression therapy includes garments or devices that provide compression to a particular body region. For example, for the treatment of CVI, a doctor might prescribe compression stockings or bandages for the legs.

Compression stockings are special stockings that help promote circulation in the legs. As a person walks, the contraction and relaxation of the calf muscles around the veins aid in moving blood toward the heart. The external compression of specialized hosiery, socks, or bandages act as a layer of muscle by gently squeezing the stretched vein walls together, allowing the valves to close. In this way, the stockings help to squeeze or push blood back up the leg in an effort to counteract pooling of blood in the leg and reduce the swelling that comes with it.

Venous disease sufferers aren’t the only ones using compression garments these days, though. A growing number of athletes has recently jumped on the compression therapy bandwagon. The use of compression therapy to enhance athletic performance during competition and to promote muscle recovery afterward has gained momentum in the sporting world over the past few years.

The theory behind the use of compression both during competition and recovery is that increasing blood flow through the veins aids in the clearance of metabolic by-products such as lactate that build up during muscle exertion. Theoretically, the increased clearance should improve recovery time and enhance athletic performance.

Several small studies have proven inconclusive on whether the use of compression improves athletic performance; however, many athletes have noted that it helps improve recovery time and prevent injuries. Many who wear compression garments during competition perceive less pain, soreness, and fatigue afterward, and others who use compression therapy following a workout note a comparatively shortened recovery time.

Whether or not compression theory really does help athletes improve their game remains to be seen; however, an increasing number of sporting apparel companies have jumped on the trend, as compression shorts, shirts, and other clothing items are now easily available for even the amateur athlete.

Although more scientific research needs to be done to show us whether compression therapy is truly beneficial for athletes, anecdotal evidence suggests that most athletes who wear compression report feeling much better post-workout than they do when not wearing it, which may go a long way toward enhancing individual athletic performance and recovery.

Fibroids and Infertility: Is There a Connection?

While uterine fibroids are more common as a woman ages, approximately 20-30 percent of women of childbearing age are affected. These noncancerous tumors of muscle tissue in the uterus can cause back pain, abdominal pressure, urinary frequency, and heavy, painful, prolonged periods. Reproductive problems, such as infertility, can also be caused by uterine fibroids.

Are Fibroids The Cause of My Infertility?
Fibroids are the cause of infertility in some cases, so it is possible. Approximately 5-10 percent of infertile women have fibroids; however, when all other causes of infertility are eliminated, fibroids may only account for 2-3 percent of infertility cases.

Fibroids can cause the uterus to change shape, which can decrease fertility. The size, number, and location of the fibroids determine whether or not they affect a woman’s fertility. Fibroids located in the wall of the uterus (intramural) or on the inside of the uterus, bulging inward (submucosal) may affect fertility. The large majority of fibroids, though, are very small or located in an area of the uterus such that they will have no impact on reproductive function.

How Do Fibroids Affect Fertility?
The following are ways uterine fibroids can decrease fertility:
♀ Fibroids can distort the shape of the cervix and can affect the number of sperm that can enter the uterus.
♀ Fibroids can create an abnormal uterine cavity, which can also affect sperm transport and can affect embryo implantation.
♀ Fallopian tubes can be obstructed or distorted by fibroids, preventing the egg from passing through.
♀ The lining of the uterus can be affected by fibroids, which can impact implantation.
♀ Blood flow to the uterine cavity can be affected, decreasing the ability of the embryo to implant or develop.

Should I Attempt to Get Pregnant If I Have Fibroids?
If you already have fibroids and get pregnant, it may be difficult to carry to term, as fibroids can lead to preterm birth or miscarriage. Fibroids rarely affect the baby, although they can change the baby’s position in the uterus, increasing the likelihood of the woman needing a cesarean section. Fibroids are found in up to approximately 10 percent of pregnant women, but not all fibroids get larger or cause problems in pregnancy; however, it is not advisable to attempt to get pregnant until after you deal with your fibroid problem.

What If I’m Already Pregnant?
Talk to your doctor, so that your fibroid condition may be monitored, and be sure to let him or her know if you experience any pain or contractions. It is recommended that you delay treatment for your fibroids until after you give birth. While increased hormones can cause fibroids to grow, no procedure should be performed while you are pregnant.

What Can I Do If I Think Fibroids Are Affecting My Fertility?
First of all, talk to your doctor. If he or she thinks that fibroids are the cause of your fertility, there are treatment options that can help. Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive, nonsurgical procedure that blocks off the blood supply to the fibroids and is a good option for young women who want to conceive. Removal of fibroids through embolization may increase your fertility afterwards; however, each case is different. How your fibroids are managed depends on your unique situation and your doctor’s recommendations.

Tennis and Back Pain

Tennis can be hard on a player’s body. While most people associate tennis with injuries to the wrist and arm—hence the term, “tennis elbow”—low back pain is also very common among tennis players.
How Does Tennis Cause Back Pain?

Low back pain associated with tennis can have various causes:

  • The hard surface of the court and uneven nature of the sport, which places most of the burden on one side of the body, can cause
aches and pain in the neck, shoulders, and back.
  • Bad posture is a common culprit of back pain for tennis players. Many players keep their heads forward with their upper backs
rounded, placing undue stress on the lower back.
  • Forehand and backhand shots require a large amount of trunk rotation, which twists the spine.
  • The tennis serve hyperextends the lower back and can compress lumbar discs. This hyperextension can stress the small joints in the  spine, lumbar discs, and muscles, ligaments, and tendons around the spine.
  • During the game, back muscles must support continual and sudden forward and lateral movements. These start-and-stop motions
are, of course, hard on the back.

What Symptoms Should Tennis Players Watch For?

Back pain symptoms experienced by tennis players include a sudden and sharp, or a persistent, dull pain in the lower back. The pain is sometimes only on one side and tends to worsen with movement and activity. The pain may also radiate to the hips, buttocks, or back of the thigh.

How Can I Prevent Back Pain While Playing Tennis?

Prevention goes a long way in avoiding any kind of injury, and following these tips can decrease your chances of back injury when hitting the tennis court:

  • Get fitted by a professional for a racket appropriate for you. A more flexible racket requires more trunk rotation than a stiffer racket with less tension in the strings. Also make sure the racket is the right size for you, as an improperly sized racket can place undue stress on the elbow and/or back.
  • Consider using a slice serve rather than a kick serve to reduce the degree of back arch.
  • Use proper form—bending the knees and holding in the abdominal muscles. Watch your posture, making sure to keep your shoulders back and avoiding rounding your upper back. It may be beneficial to have a tennis professional check your form and posture, especially if you are new to the game. A pro can teach proper form and make suggestions on how to avoid back injuries.
  • Exercise your core regularly. As in all sports, strong core body muscles are essential and can help prevent injuries to other parts of the body, including the back.
  • Wearing the right tennis shoe can help you avoid back injury. Look for shoes with good shock absorption and good traction.
  • As with any physical activity, be sure to stretch well both before and after you play tennis to avoid tight or pulled muscles.

Varicose Veins: Not Just a Woman’s Issue

A common misconception is that only women suffer from varicose veins. In reality, a surprising 40 to 45 percent of men also suffer from varicose veins.

Why the Misconception?
While it’s true that cosmetic vein conditions, such as spider veins, arise mostly in women, there are other vein conditions—even painful ones—that occur in men almost equally. Varicose veins can be largely only cosmetic—possibly one reason why male patients are reluctant to seek out treatment. They either don’t notice, or the unsightliness doesn’t bother them. If there is pain, heaviness, or discomfort involved, men have a tendency to brush the problem off as something else—perhaps overuse or poor circulation.

Some doctors note, too, that men tend to wait to see their physician at a later stage of the condition than women do. Men tend to wait until the varicose veins are extremely painful or when they are starting to cause skin damage, which puts them at a higher risk of developing venous ulcers and other severe vein problems that are more complicated to treat.

What are the Causes, Symptoms, and Risk Factors?
Our hearts are responsible for pumping blood to other parts of the body via our arteries. Our veins then return that blood back to the heart. Veins contain valves that ensure the blood flows in the right direction; however, sometimes, these valves fail, causing blood to flow backward, pooling in the veins and causing them to expand.

The result is often a dark blue or purple, twisted vein near the skin’s surface, and symptoms include throbbing, aching, itching, or a “heaviness” in the legs. More severe symptoms can include bleeding from the vein and blood clots. Because the vascular structure of men is the same as that of women, men need to understand that they, too, are at risk for varicosities.

Varicose veins can occur in anyone, but men (and women) who sit or stand for long periods of time, specifically at their jobs, may be more susceptible to damaged veins. Varicose veins are largely hereditary, so men who have a family history of vein disease are also at a higher risk of developing varicosities themselves.

What Can I Do to Prevent Varicose Veins?

Exercise: Keeping your vein walls strong through frequent exercise is the best way to prevent varicose veins. Any physical activity will help, but it is especially important to participate in exercises that involve the calves, which play a crucial role in maintaining blood flow from your legs back to your heart. Good activities include running, bike riding, and tennis.

Switch it Up: Sitting or standing in one place for too long can cause your blood to pool, putting you at increased risk of varicosities. Take frequent breaks during your day to stretch your legs, which will improve circulation. If you sit often, take time out regularly to stand up and walk around. Conversely, if your job requires you to stand for long periods of time, make it a point to sit down or simply stretch your legs for a few minutes every hour or two.

Elevate Your Legs: Elevating your legs can help alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins and allows your veins to have a bit of a break, as they won’t have to work quite so hard to pump the blood back to your heart.

Wear Compression Hose: Compression socks or leggings provide tension that helps push blood up from the ankle and redistributes it more evenly up the leg. Compression hose can be obtained with a doctor’s prescription or over-the-counter.

Watch What You Eat: Stay away from foods high in sodium, since salt can lead to fluid retention.

What Should I Do if I Suspect Varicosities?
Remember, varicose veins are not just a woman’s problem. Seek help today if you notice twisted, bulging veins in your legs, or if you are experiencing any throbbing, aching, itching, or bleeding. If your doctor does confirm varicosities, he or she will suggest ways to treat them.

Today’s treatment options are quick, noninvasive, and done on an outpatient basis. Recovery time is quick, and pain, if any, is minimal, so men no longer have an excuse not to consult a doctor’s care for their varicose veins.