Fibroid Symptoms

UCSF Comprehensive Fibroid Center

Heavy vaginal bleeding

A common symptom from uterine fibroids is excessively heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Not uncommonly, women describe soaking through sanitary protection in less than an hour, passing blood clots and being unable to leave the house during the heaviest day of flow. As a result, some women develop anemia, also known as a low blood count. Anemia can cause fatigue, headaches and lightheadedness. If heavy bleeding interferes with a woman's everyday activities or if she develops anemia, then she should see her physician to discuss fibroid treatment options.

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Pelvic pressure or discomfort

Women with large fibroids may have a sense of heaviness or pressure in their lower abdomen or pelvis. Often this is described as a vague sense of discomfort rather than a sharp pain. Sometimes, the enlarged uterus makes it difficult to lie face down, bend over or exercise without discomfort.

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Bladder problems

The most common bladder symptom is the need to urinate frequently. A woman may wake up several times during the night in order to empty her bladder. Occasionally, women experience an inability to urinate despite a full bladder. Bladder symptoms are caused by the uterine fibroids pressing against the bladder thereby reducing it's capacity for holding urine or blocking the outflow for urine to pass. It can be quite a relief when bladder problems are solved.

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Pelvic pain

A less common symptom of fibroids is acute, severe pain. This type of pain occurs when a fibroid goes through a process called degeneration. The pain is usually localized to a specific spot and improves on it own within two to four weeks. Using a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, can decrease the pain significantly. Chronic pelvic pain can also occur. This type of pain is usually mild but persistent and localized into a specific area.

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Low back pain

In rare circumstances, fibroids can press against the muscles and nerves of the lower back and cause back pain. A large fibroid located on the back surface of the uterus is more likely to cause back pain than a small intramural fibroid. Because back pain is so common, it is important to look for other causes of back pain before attributing it to fibroids.

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Rectal pressure

Fibroids can also press against the rectum and cause a sense of rectal fullness, difficulty having a bowel movement or pain with bowel movements. Sometimes, fibroids can cause hemorrhoids to develop.

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Discomfort or pain with sexual intercourse

Fibroids can make sexual intercourse painful or uncomfortable. The pain may occur only in specific positions or during certain times of the menstrual cycle. Discomfort during intercourse is a significant issue. If your doctor doesn't ask you about this symptom, make sure you mention it.

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