As women, we become used to the monthly changes that happen during our menstrual cycle.
But variations to the usual side effects can make you worry—differences like heavy or prolonged bleeding. You may be wondering what is causing the new impacts. Can fibroids cause bleeding?
Here’s what you need to know about uterine fibroids.
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are also called leiomyomas or myomas. Fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus and they often occur for women during their childbearing years. Fibroids almost never develop into cancer and they are not usually associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer.1
Some women have fibroids without realizing it. That’s because they can be so small that they can’t be detected. Others can grow large enough to distort and enlarge your uterus. Women can also have one or many fibroids, and this can also lead to an expanding uterus and adding weight to your body.1
Researchers state that uterine fibroids are the most common pelvic tumors among women of reproductive age. Worldwide, fibroids affect more than 70% of women.2 They can remain undiagnosed, so it’s estimated that only 25% to 30% of women report the clinical symptoms of uterine fibroids.2
What are the Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?
You might not know you have uterine fibroids because they often cause no symptoms. If you do have side effects, they can be influenced by the size and number of fibroids, as well as the location of the myomas.1
Here are the most common signs that you may have fibroids:1
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Periods that last more than a week
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination and difficulty emptying the bladder
- Backache or leg pains
Other symptoms can include pain during sex or a lower back pain that does not go away. Sometimes uterine fibroids may cause more serious problems, such as infertility, blockage of the urinary tract or bowels, or anemia.3
So if you’re wondering if fibroids can cause bleeding, the answer is a definite yes. Researchers estimated that in approximately 30% of patients, uterine fibroids cause menorrhagia, or heavy menstrual bleeding.4
Similarly, researchers who study heavy menstrual bleeding have found it can be the result of several reasons, including endometriosis, adenomyosis, endometrial polyps, and other conditions. But, they also conclude that the most common condition underlying heavy menstrual bleeding is uterine fibroids.4
Researchers have also defined abnormal uterine bleeding as any deviation from the normal menstrual cycle, which is further defined as 29 days on average, with a range of 23-39 days, and bleeding episodes lasting 2-7 days.5 That means it isn’t always easy to know if your condition falls outside of this definition, and whether it is a concern.
Historically, the definition of heavy menstrual bleeding involved a measurement of blood loss, but scientists found that was not useful. After all, as women we are all different. So the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence now defines it as “excessive menstrual blood loss which interferes with a woman’s physical, social, emotional and/or material quality of life.”4
Other markers of what could be called abnormal vaginal bleeding are:3
- vaginal bleeding that occurs between your menstrual cycles
- when flow is significantly heavier than normal for a particular individual
- vaginal bleeding after menopause
When Should You See a Doctor?
Since what could be called heavy or abnormal bleeding can be different for different women, it’s important to seek medical advice if you have any concerns about your menstrual cycles, or bleeding between cycles.
In particular, see a doctor if you have overly heavy, prolonged or painful periods. The same is true if you have spotting or bleeding between periods, or after menopause.1
Seek immediate medical care if you have severe vaginal bleeding or sharp pelvic pain that comes on suddenly.1
There are treatment options available, depending on factors like your age, whether you want to have children, and the severity of the bleeding.3 Options include the use of birth control pills or hormone injections. Some women may need to have surgery to control bleeding or to remove the fibroids. There are different types of surgical options too.3
Finding a Doctor
If you have concerns about abnormal bleeding, or you suspect you may have fibroids, use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health. It’s important to diagnose fibroids or any other pelvic health condition, as treatments can be effective and bring relief.