Constipation is an uncomfortable but normal part of being human. The causes may include not drinking enough water, medications, or even temporary changes to your diet.
However, constipation may also be a warning sign of a problem called uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids aren’t always a serious problem; they’re almost always noncancerous. But that doesn’t mean that you should just ignore them. Dr. Darin L Weyhrich offers this helpful explanation of what fibroids are and when you should seek help.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids, also called leiomyomas, are benign growths, usually on the walls of your uterus. As many as 20%-50% of women of reproductive age experience fibroids.
The symptoms of fibroids
Fibroids often present no symptoms at all and are only discovered during a routine ultrasound of your uterus. This is most often the case if your fibroids are particularly small.
However, they can grow large enough to present symptoms. Some of the signs indicating a possible problem with fibroids include the following:
- Frequent constipation
- Difficulty with urination
- Having periods that last longer than seven days
- More frequent menstrual periods
- Irregular bleeding between cycles
- Heavy periods
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Fibroids and constipation often go hand in hand because large fibroids and those in a position that puts pressure on your rectum interfere with your bowels and lead to constipation. Sometimes, they can block the intestine completely and damage the digestive tract if not treated.
Although these are not the only signs of fibroids, they frequently occur in women who have them. If you have several of these symptoms, it warrants further examination by Dr. Weyhrich.
How to manage fibroids
If your fibroids are large enough to cause symptoms, you may feel extremely uncomfortable or even experience pain. Depending upon how close you are to menopause, we may recommend watchful waiting if they’re not causing significant symptoms.
However, if they are symptomatic, we may prescribe one of a variety of tests to diagnose your fibroids, such as a pelvic ultrasound. This exam, usually performed with a transvaginal wand that we insert into your vagina, can give us a clear picture of what’s happening inside your uterus.
We may also order other tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or X-rays.
Sometimes, we can relieve your symptoms with simple medication. Most often, this is a form of hormone replacement designed to bring your hormones into better balance. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) or naproxen sodium (Aleve®) can provide sufficient pain relief.
However, in particularly severe cases, especially if your family is complete and you still have many years until menopause, we may recommend removing your uterus. This procedure is called a hysterectomy. When we perform a hysterectomy, we aim to do so in a minimally invasive surgery to preserve healthy tissue, make smaller incisions, and reduce your recovery time.
If you have symptoms of fibroids, we can help. Contact Dr. Darin L. Weyhrich or schedule an appointment online.