Uterine fibroids are a much more common issue than you might think. According to the National Institutes of Health, one study found that between 80 and 90 percent of African American women and 70 percent of Caucasian women will develop fibroids before the age of 50.
Since uterine fibroids can cause severe symptoms and can even lead to trouble getting pregnant, it is important to know the warning signs of fibroid development.
Who is At-Risk?
African American women are more likely to develop fibroids and are also more likely to develop several fibroids at a time. But, there are other factors that could increase a woman’s risk of developing this condition. You may be at increased risk if you are:
- Over 40 years of age
- Have a family history of fibroids
- Have never been pregnant
- Have high blood pressure
Factors that lower a woman’s risk of developing fibroids include:
- Long-term use of birth control pills or shots
What are the Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?
Every case is different and some women may never experience symptoms, but there are three common symptoms in women who have uterine fibroids.
Excessive Menstrual Bleeding
The most common symptom for women with fibroid tumors is excessive bleeding while menstruating. Often times, the bleeding is prolonged, causing periods to last longer than normal. This can lead to soiling of clothing and may interfere with everyday activities.
Pelvic Pain & Pressure
Women with fibroids may feel pain in their lower abdomen. As fibroids grow larger, depending on their size and location, they may cause pain by putting pressure on organs. In addition, it could cause swelling that is often mistaken as weight gain or pregnancy.
Loss of Bladder Control
Fibroids can press against the bladder causing frequent urination and even loss of bladder control. Not only can this cause a great deal of pain, it can disrupt your everyday activities. In addition, fibroid growth can place pressure on the bowel, causing constipation and bloating.
How are Uterine Fibroids Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, schedule an appointment with your OBGYN. Fibroids can usually be found during a simple abdominal or pelvic exam. If your doctor feels that you may have fibroids, an ultrasound or MRI may be used to confirm the diagnosis.