There are some women who have small fibroids that don't really present any symptoms. However, the larger fibroids can really wreak havoc on the reproductive system and present very inconvenient and painful symptoms. One of the symptoms of fibroids that I don't think is highlighted enough is its effects on a woman's sex life.
Painful intercourse - Depending on the size and location of the fibroids, sexual intercourse can be very painful for her. Some women complain about feeling a stabbing pain in their lower abdomen during sex. This can be a symptom of uterine fibroids.
Longer periods - With fibroids, bleeding is extended and periods last longer than usual. This definitely affects the desire for sex as well as the ability to engage in sexual activity. I have met women who say they have had month-long periods.
Heavy periods - In addition to hindering the possibility of sex itself, heavy bleeding can cause anaemia. Heavy bleeding also restricts a woman's ability to move around and go about her daily activities without having to worry about messing up her clothes.
Low self-esteem - With all the discomfort she is experiencing, her clothes feel different on her body, and overall, she's not feeling her best.
Bloating and other discomforts - The infamous PMS is real, and with uterine fibroids, it seems to magnify all the symptoms. So a woman is feeling bloated, irritable, and she is dealing with menstrual cramps as well. Any woman who has ever experienced PMS knows that it is not easy to get through a busy day much less get in the mood for sex.
Uterine incontinence - Feeling the need to urinate often can get in the way and make sex unappealing.
It is very important at this point for me to indicate that these are not just symptoms that affect women. Their partners are also affected, and it is vital that these partners participate with unconditional support. Men, especially, should learn more about how they can help to support their partners who suffer from this condition.
Like it or not, uterine fibroids are a reality for some women and we must find out as much as we can to treat the condition.
National Fibroids Awareness Week ends on Saturday with a symposium at the Jamaica College Auditorium, and there will be a presentation about the journey of Dr Shelly Ann Weeks with the condition.