If you’ve ever had to get up in the middle of the night, stumble to the bathroom, debate whether or not to turn on the light because it could wake you up more, and stumble back to bed just to do it again almost every hour throughout the night, I feel you.
That was real for me every single night for more than three years back in my early 30s. And it was only by chance that I learned the cause: fibroids symptoms.
I was at a routine check-up and pap with my Obstetrician-Gynecologist (yes, we go to OB-GYNs, too!) and my doctor couldn’t find my IUD strings. They did an ultrasound to discover the IUD was, in fact, still in my uterus and found more than I was bargaining for.
There they were, those pesky little fibroids. Being a doctor fresh out of residency, I was so career focused and let my busy life take over. It wasn’t until three years later that I ended up having a myomectomy, which was my treatment option of choice.
It was a hardcore experience that included a month of recovery, but things are better now and I credit my experience with my choice to become an OB-GYN.
Because I’m going to be real with you: fibroids can really take a toll on your overall well-being.
There are some women that have them and don’t know it, and they are in some ways blessed for that. The symptoms can be brutal, the worst of mine being the inability to get a good night’s rest and periods that would knock me out.
According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, these are the main symptoms to watch for:
Changes in menstruation
Longer, more frequent, or heavy menstrual periods
Menstrual pain (cramps)
Vaginal bleeding at times other than menstruation
Anemia (from blood loss)
In the abdomen or lower back (often dull, heavy and aching, but may be sharp)
Difficulty urinating or frequent urination
Constipation, rectal pain, or difficult bowel movements
Enlarged uterus and abdomen
This is where I, as your friendly neighborhood OB-GYN, step in to again declare from the mountaintops how crucial it is to make sure you make those well check ups with your doctor.
While there are those lucky few who do not experience symptoms, fibroids can grow at varying rates, and generally the larger the fibroids, the more likely there will be complications.
Instead, discussing your symptoms with your doctor openly and honestly, is an important place to start. There is also a chance your doctor can recognize changes to the uterus caused by fibroids during their routine pelvic examination.
Because yes, fibroids are little pests. They can get in the way of plans with friends, cancel dates, and can be so horribly painful. But they are the reason I decided to become an OB-GYN and I am on a mission to put them in their place.
One of the ways I’m choosing to do that is to do my part in helping educate my community so you know everything there is to know about this incredibly common, but also totally treatable health issue.
Stay tuned for three more parts to this Fibroid Facts series, focusing on the basics you need to know about fibroids, the psychological effects, and types of treatment.
In the meantime, you know where to find me if you have any questions!