Often, fibroids do not show any symptoms and are only discovered during routine check-ups. But around one in every three women with fibroids will experience some symptoms which will interfere with daily life.
If you have any of the following symptoms (see tabs below) and are concerned you may have fibroids, talk to your doctor about available management options.
Heavy periods do not necessarily mean something serious or wrong, but they can have an emotional and social impact on daily life and lead to iron-deficiency anaemia, tiredness and shortness of breath.
You should be able to tell if your periods become very heavy if you need to use an unusually high number of tampons or pads, need to use both together, or experience bleeding through your clothes or bedding.
This can happen because fibroids irritate the lining of the womb (the endometrium) and disturb the reproductive cycle.
The average menstrual cycle lasts around 28 days, but anything between 24 – 35 days is considered normal. Irregular bleeding is when your periods last longer than seven days, there are less than three weeks between the start of one period and the next, you have bleeding between periods, or bleeding after sex.
Frequent urination and constipation
Needing to go to the toilet more often than normal can happen if fibroids press on the bladder so you may have to get up in the middle of the night or go to the toilet more frequently during the day.
Fibroids may also press on the large intestine, which can cause constipation and pain during bowel movements.
Constipation means you are not able to pass stools regularly or are unable to completely empty your bowels.
Difficulty becoming pregnant or infertility
Occasionally, fibroids can lead to problems with becoming pregnant or infertility (the inability to become pregnant).
For most healthy couples, 95% of women will become pregnant within two years of having regular unprotected sex. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a couple is said to be infertile if the woman has not managed to become pregnant after 12 months of regular unprotected sex.
Infertility can happen if fibroids are very large or submucosal, where they grow into the cavity of the womb. Depending on their type and size, fibroids can sometimes prevent a fertilised egg from attaching itself to the lining of the womb, or they may block the fallopian tube, making pregnancy difficult.
In some cases, fibroids may also lead to complications during pregnancy for both the mother and child, increasing the risk of miscarriage and can cause problems during labour.
Pain and discomfort during sex
If fibroids are growing near the vagina or the neck of the womb (the cervix), some women can experience pain during sex, which can have an impact on relationships.
Fibroids can cause heavy or painful bleeding during periods as they can irritate the womb (uterus) and make it bigger.
Pelvic pain and feeling of pressure in the stomach
Fibroids can cause pain or swelling in the pelvis (below your belly button),
especially if they are large. They may also cause some pain in the lower back and legs.