Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus. Also called leiomyomas, uterine fibroids grow in the tissue of the uterus, often during a woman’s childbearing years. They can appear rapidly or steadily over time. Fibroids appear in various sizes. Some are big enough to increase the size of the uterus while others can’t even be seen by the human eye.
While as much as 75 percent of all women have uterine fibroids, many are completely unaware because they have no symptoms. Below are 7 of the most common symptoms of uterine fibroids:
- Heavy Menstrual Bleeding – The most common symptom of uterine fibroids is prolonged and heavy bleeding during menstruation, which is caused by fibroid growth bordering the uterine cavity. Women may also notice menstrual periods that last longer than normal.
- Menstrual Pain – Heavy menstrual bleeding and clots can lead to severe cramping and pain during periods.
- Abdominal Pressure and Pain – Women suffering from large fibroids may experience pressure or pain in the abdomen or lower back. While it may feel like menstrual cramps, it may be a result of fibroids.
- Abdominal and Uterine Enlargement – As fibroids grow larger, women may feel them as hard lumps in the lower abdomen. Especially large fibroids can even give the abdomen the appearance of pregnancy, along with a feeling of heaviness and pressure. Large fibroids are defined by comparing the size of the uterus with fibroids to the size it would be at specific months during pregnancy.
- Pain During Intercourse – Also known as dyspareunia, some women may experience pain during sexual intercourse. The source of the discomfort may be fibroids.
- Urinary Problems – Large fibroids may press against the bladder and urinary tract, which can cause frequent urination or the urge to urinate. This symptom is particularly noticeable when a woman is lying down at night. When fibroids press on the ureters – the tubes going from the kidneys to the bladder – the flow of urine may be blocked or obstructed.
- Constipation – Pressure against the rectum from large fibroids can cause constipation.