In part 2 of my series on uterine fibroids I want to talk about managing your symptoms. If you missed part 1 then click here to read the first post answering the question of what are fibroids.
As mentioned in the post last week, there are many women who don’t experience any serious issues related to having fibroids. However, there is a large number of women who do suffer from them. Some of the most common side effects include the following:
- Extremely heavy bleeding
- Severe cramping
- Enlarged abdomen
- Painful sex
- In rare cases infertility
- Back pain
- Urinating frequently
- Complications during pregnancy and labour
For some women, the bleeding is so heavy that the amount of blood loss can cause anemia. It is highly recommended to be taking iron supplements daily to combat this side effect. Some women have complaints of irregular periods because the bleeding can happen at any time of the month. This makes life very challenging if you have to deal with the possibility of bleeding at any time.
It’s important that once you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids that you talk to your doctor for the best way to treat your condition. If you don’t have any symptoms, the doctor may advise that you don’t do anything at all. Many women live with fibroids that don’t cause them any trouble. But if you’re a woman who suffers some or all of the symptoms it’s important to find the treatment that best fits your lifestyle needs. Some of the things you should consider in your decision include the location and size of your fibroids, if you plan on becoming pregnant, and your age (if you’re close to menopause).
One of the first things most doctors will suggest is medication. Either used to treat the pain or decrease the bleeding. For the pain, many doctors recommend over the counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to alleviate the discomfort. For those with severe pain the doctor may choose to prescribe higher dose medications.
Some doctors recommend using a form of birth control because it will help reduce the bleeding and regulate your cycle. Some women are concerned that the drugs could promote the growth of the fibroids, but there is not a risk of that happening because of using birth control. Talk to your doctor about what form of birth control is best for your treatment. There are many options from the pill to injections or IUD (intrauterine device). The problem with this solution though, is if you’re trying to become pregnant using any form of birth control will keep that from happening.
Another drug your doctor might want to prescribe for you if you suffer from excessive bleeding is Cyklocapron (tranexamic acid). This drug is supposed to help prevent or reduce the heavy bleeding. My doctor has prescribed this for me and it has proved somewhat helpful, but is not always the long term solution every woman wants. Some of the immediate side effects of taking this drug include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Like with any medication it is important to talk to your doctor about the other possible interactions it may have with other medications or supplements you may be taking.
Another type of drug used for fibroid treatment is known as gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists and they are used to shrink the fibroids. The most commonly known brand name of this type of drug is Lupron. My doctor spoke to me about a few drug options that will shrink the fibroids and also reduced bleeding, but they also significantly reduce the chances of getting pregnant so I decided against it. It’s very important to talk to your doctor about what options are out there. With so many reliable medical websites it’s also a good time for you to do your own research so you are prepared with the right questions to ask your doctor when you see him or her. Some of these drugs can actually be quite expensive so not everyone will be able to explore this option.
There are also natural remedies of treatment which include nutritional diet changes and taking supplements, which I will explore in a future post specifically dedicated to natural remedies.
Many doctors will also suggest a woman have surgery to resolve her issue, particularly if she has large ones that are causing severe problems. I have had surgery to remove five and it was a relief a the time, but now a few new ones have since grown in the six years since I had the surgery. Next week, I’ll explore the options and risk factors of having your fibroids removed surgically.
Resources: www.womenshealth.gov, mayoclinic.org, webmd.com