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Living with uterine fibroids

Leiomyoma - living with fibroids; Fibromyoma - living with fibroids; Myoma - living with fibroids; Vaginal bleeding - living with fibroids; Uterine bleeding - living with fibroids; Pelvic pain - living with fibroids

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Description

Uterine fibroids are tumors that grow in a woman's womb (uterus). These growths are not cancerous.

No one knows exactly what causes fibroids.

You may have seen your health care provider for uterine fibroids. They can cause:

Many women with fibroids have no symptoms. If you have symptoms, you may receive medicines or sometimes surgery. There are also certain things you can do to help relieve fibroid pain.

Medicines to Treat Uterine Fibroids

Your provider may prescribe different types of hormone therapy to help control extra bleeding. This may include birth control pills or injections. Be sure to follow provider's directions for taking these medicines. DO NOT stop taking them without talking to your provider first. Be sure to tell your provider about any side effects you have.

Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce the pain of uterine fibroids. These include:

To help ease painful periods, try starting these medicines 1 to 2 days before your period begins.

You may be receiving hormone therapy to prevent the endometriosis from becoming worse. Ask your doctor about side effects, including:

Iron supplements may be prescribed to prevent or treat anemia due to heavy periods. Constipation and diarrhea are very common with these supplements. If constipation becomes a problem, take a stool softener such as docusate sodium (Colace).

Self-care

Learning how to manage your symptoms can make it easier to live with fibroids.

Apply a hot water bottle or heating pad on your lower stomach. This can get blood flowing and relax your muscles. Warm baths also may help relieve pain.

Lie down and rest. Place a pillow under your knees when lying on your back. If you prefer to lie on your side, pull your knees up toward your chest. These positions help take the pressure off your back.

Get regular exercise. Exercise helps improve blood flow. It also triggers your body's natural painkillers, called endorphins.

Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Maintaining a healthy weight will help improve your overall health. Eating plenty of fiber can help keep you regular so you do not have to strain during bowel movements.

Techniques to relax and help relieve pain include:

Some women find that acupuncture helps ease painful periods.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if you have:

If self-care for pain does not help, talk with your provider about other treatment options.

References

Dolan MS, Hill C, Valea FA. Benign gynecologic lesions: vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, oviduct, ovary, ultrasound imaging of pelvic structures. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 18.

Moravek MB, Bulun SE. Uterine fibroids. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Krester DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 131.

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Review Date: 1/14/2018  

Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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