You probably know fibroids can cause pelvic pain and discomfort. But if you’re one of the 35 million American women diagnosed with these benign uterine tumors, you might wonder if they’re what’s causing your digestive troubles.
Board-certified interventional radiologist Andrew Doe, MD, and the team at Alate Health in Houston, Texas, understand how frustrating it can be to experience tummy troubles without knowing the cause.
That’s why we put our heads together and created this guide, explaining the link between uterine fibroids and digestive problems. Keep reading to learn what you need to know.
What are uterine fibroids?
Doctors call the benign tumors that can grow in your uterus uterine fibroids. These muscular tumors typically grow in the wall of your womb and can vary dramatically in size from very small to as large as a grapefruit.
Some women may have one fibroid while others have many. Depending on the size and location of your fibroids, these non-cancerous tumors can cause frustrating symptoms, including:
- Heavy periods
- Bleeding between periods
- Periods lasting over a week
- Period cramps that get worse each cycle
- Lower back pain
- Pain during sex
- Urgent or frequent need to urinate
- Inability to fully empty your bladder
- Fullness or pressure in the pelvic area
- Abdominal swelling
At Alate Health, Dr. Doe uses your symptoms and imaging tests to diagnose fibroids and determine the best course of treatment.
What’s the link between fibroids and digestive issues?
It’s not uncommon for women with fibroids to experience problematic digestive issues, like constipation or bloating. Depending on the size and location of your fibroids, the tumors may put pressure on your bowel or intestines.
Your uterus rests directly in front of the part of your bowels that controls your bowel movements, called the colon. Fibroids in the back wall of your uterus or very large fibroids can press against the colon, triggering constipation or bloating.
In addition, some women with fibroids experience heavy periods. Their doctors may recommend iron supplements to combat blood loss, but these pills can also cause constipation.
Although it may not sound serious, untreated constipation can negatively impact your quality of life and even lead to significant complications, including hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal bleeding, rectal prolapse, and fecal impaction.
What can I do about problematic fibroids?
Fibroids that don’t cause digestive problems or other disruptive symptoms may not require treatment. For women with only mild symptoms, hormonal birth control, prescription gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa), or NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, may be enough.
However, if you have problematic fibroids Dr. Doe may recommend minimally invasive uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This procedure involves cutting off the fibroid’s blood supply to reduce the size — and symptoms — of your fibroids.
UFE is a safe therapy, requiring only a tiny incision and a small catheter to place the particles that block the flow of blood. Complications or negative side effects are rare, and at least 85% of women who have UFE experience substantial relief from their frustrating symptoms.
Since Dr. Doe is one of the most experienced interventional radiologists in the area, over 90% of our patients tell us they experience a significant reduction in symptoms and a dramatic improvement in their quality of life.
If you’re struggling with problematic digestive issues and think fibroids are to blame, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Doe at Alate Health in Houston, Texas.