health-related question for females (TMI warning)

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Lothlorien, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Member

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    Hello :)

    Let me just say that I have nothing against male FSUers reading and commenting, but do so at your own risk. ;)

    And the question is: fibroids. Have you had them, what did you do about them, if anything, and so on.

    I finally went to see a GP about the awful cramps I've been experiencing throughout my cycle (but not during my period). The doctor thought it might be a cyst and sent me to have an ultrasound. The sonographer told me I've got fibroids. I'm going back to the doctor next week to get full results and discuss the next step. Since I deeply resent the mostly out of pocket nature of local health care (having grown up with free universal healthcare), the more informed I am to start with and the fewer times I've got to go back the better. So, please contribute to my knowledge pool. :)

    The background to this is that symptoms do not quite add up in my brain based on internet research. It's supposed to be heavy/painful periods, but my periods are very light and nearly pain free. My current symptoms are strong pains and cramps, it kind of feels like my uterus is being twisted into knots. They start soon after the end of my period and do not ease off until a couple of days before the next period. Mid-cycle they get can get so bad I can't move, at other times it's more like constant abdominal discomfort. Yep, it's like being in some degree of pain for 3 weeks out of 4... I do experience some bloating at times, but have always thought it to be related to food. Similarly, I have always blamed the frequent toilet trips on my daily consumption of 2-4 L of water.

    I had extremely heavy and painful periods in my teens, which then grew lighter but remained fairly painful and in the end I went on the pill at 22 or so for a few years (North Americans might be familiar with Tri-Cyclen, which is meant to be a low dose pill). I have been off the pill for nearly 2 years and have not been using any other form of hormonal BC since. At first, I got some period cramps, but then these strange pains started appearing and getting stronger. The past few months have been especially unpleasant, and having ruled out stomach sleeping and wide, tight elastic PJ waistband as causes, I finally realized this needs to be looked into...


    Thanks in advance for any contributions. :) I'm feeling a bit freaked out looking at the treatment options online.

    Lothlorien
     
  2. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Ugh, that sucks! I feel for you. Hang in there!

    Yeah, the symptoms are backwards from typical period-related stuff. Hormonally, it makes sense that women normally cramp during their periods since it's the uterus doing the squeezing. (The hormones also cause all smooth muscles in the area to go a little haywire, which is why so many of us also experience weird digestive issues during that time as well.) The cramping between periods is completely backwards from that. :confused:

    My mom had really painful cramps during her periods that turned out to be endometriosis. I have no idea if that's in anyway related, but it's all I got right now. Sorry it's not much help. :(
     
  3. ArtisticFan

    ArtisticFan Well-Known Member

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    I am headed off for work right now, but when I get back I will post some more information for you. My new doctor is one of the leaders in the field of endometriosis and fibroids. It took me six doctors to find one who I like and can work with on these problems.

    He has given me a load of information, including books that he has written on the topic.
     
  4. MOIJTO

    MOIJTO Banned Member

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    I have one fibroid, reeks havoc every month for me. I have heavy long periods that come about every 14-18 days and have been for 4 years. I am in peri-mental pause but haven't missed a period yet. Cramps are annoying each period too.

    www.womentowomen.com is a great women's health website, check it out.

    Its a pain in the ass to be a woman and fibroids are very common among us, good thing after mentalpause many fibroids shrink and go away naturally.

    I feel your pain! :)
     
  5. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Member

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    Thanks so much. :)

    The doctor initially suspected cyst(s) or endometriosis, but none of that. I won't be finding out the details until I see the GP again mid-week next week. I'm kind of stumped, since it seems like heavy and/or irregular periods are the norm with fibroids, but mine are quite regular and very light. It would help to know my family's history, but I have no information at all.

    The Women to Women website mentions that relationship problems can be contributors. Must be my body's way of reacting to my horrid ex-relationship. :lol: Except why is it happening now, with the ex out of the picture for months and me feeling so happy?! :p
     
  6. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    Endometriosis? That's what it sounds like, based only on symptoms; but if the ultrasound showed a fibroid... could it be you have both?

    And you're off the pill right now, yes? One thing that some doctors suggest re: fibroids and endo is to go *on* the pill. So that would be one suggestion. For the pain, take Advil/naproxin sodium. That's what doctors recommended to my sister, and she says it helps tons.
     
  7. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

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    You didn't say how old you are. It might matter. The other day when at my doctor she asked if I had any family history of early menopause (I'm 41). In any case, it occurred to me that if you're anywhere near that age the hormones could be starting to do strange and atypical things.

    Good luck, and I hope you find a solution soon!
     
  8. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Member

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    I thought my post makes my age bracket pretty clear. ;) 29 it is.

    Off the pill indeed, but want to go back on BC and that's part of the reason why I went to see the GP. Will be getting the Implanon/Janelle/Norplant thing, I think.

    I've got an aversion to pills - that's what being brought up in a "suck it up unless you're near death from pain" mode does to you. :p Besides, I don't think taking Advil or equivalent for 3 weeks out of 4 would be a good option or one endorsed by a doctor...

    The sonographer only mentioned the fibroids, possibly to explain why the exam was taking forever and getting increasingly uncomfortable (she needed to do the measurements). I might have both indeed - will find out when I see the doctor. But fibroids are a given.
     
  9. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    My mom tried taking OTC pills to dull the endometriosis pain, and it didn't help. Chinese herbs (although it tasted super-nasty) helped a lot more.

    Eventually the solution which worked was surgery. She didn't look too hot post-surgery (anesthesia made her nauseous so she was throwing up) and she had to get her dressings changed regularly (which nobody in the family was willing to do but me :p ) and she learned that having your butt be out of commission for weeks is very inconvenient. But no more pain. :cheer:

    Plus she was already in her 40s at the time, so it was really only a few more years until menopause anyway. But the pain was so bad she wasn't going to suffer those few more years.

    If you're going to do BC, implants will do the same thing as pills. :p I've got an aversion to BC because of the constant hormone dose and that doesn't sit well with me personally because I don't suffer from PMS or cramps so I technically don't really need it. It'd be the same difference pills or not. :lol:
     
  10. shan

    shan Well-Known Member

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    I just had my annual exam today and found out that I have an enlarged uterus. I have to schedule a ultrasound... I'm only a little freaked out, hoping its something minor.
     
  11. MOIJTO

    MOIJTO Banned Member

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    How old are you? I had this happen at 38, 42, 47 and 50! Sometimes its a thickening of the uterus too. Ultrasound is the first step and from there anything else D & C or endometrial biopsy.

    From what I understand in peri-mental pausel women this is common.

    Let us know. :)
     
  12. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

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    The ultrasound (which will probably be the trans-vaginal kind, which gives great images) will let them measure the thickness of the lining and the overall size of the uterus, as well as the size of any fibroids. They'll also get measurements on the ovaries and see what the follicular situation look like. Have you also had blood work done to check hormone levels?

    If it is a fibroid-related problem, there are several treatments now that are pretty minor trans-vaginal procedures.

    If it is just a larger-than-average uterus, it may not be a problem at all. The ultrasound will really give you a lot of information, especially if you meet or talk with your doctor once he/she has the results.
     
  13. shan

    shan Well-Known Member

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    I've had bloodwork which came out fine, I assume they checked hormone levels. I'm 35 if that means anything. We'll see. :)
     
  14. MOIJTO

    MOIJTO Banned Member

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    Yes, I started with peri-mentalpause symptoms at 35. Acne was the first sign that I was on the spiral down to mental pause! :D

    Its scary no doubt and please let us know!
     
  15. Capella

    Capella Guest

    Endometriosis cannot be confirmed with an ultrasound. It needs to be visualized in surgery. It is definitely possible to have both endometriosis and fibroids. You can also have endometriomas, also known as chocolate cysts, which may be able to be viewed on an ultrasound.

    On the plus side, so many gynecological surgeries (exploratory, too) can be done on an out-patient basis with same-day surgeries, which keeps costs down for everyone.

    Endometriosis.org has some great information resources, including questions to ask your doctor on your next visit.

    Good luck, and keep us updated. Naproxen Sodium (Anaprox) is probably the best OTC meds for pelvic pain.
     
  16. KCC

    KCC Active Member

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    I had HUGE fibroids (one the size of a coconut plus two others) at age 34 and had my uterus removed -- never planned to have kids anyway, but the thought of never again having a period was too enticing, since they were so painful. Love the additional freedom and never had any regrets.

    Good luck with the diagnostic process and finding a treatment that works for you.
     
  17. redonthehead

    redonthehead New Member

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    Fibroids can cause pain anytime of the month and not just during your period. I should know because mine did and I put up with them for 5 years before I had a hysterectomy.

    I have PCOS and I had the enlarged uterus along with 8 fibroids. Though we didn't know it until the surgery (and I had the an internal ultrasound every 3 months for those 5 years) I also had at end had some endometriosis.

    As for taking pain meds all the time, I had a continuous prescription of pain meds that I was told by my dr to take whenever and for every how many days in a row I needed them. They gradually got stronger.

    If age matters, I was 32 when we found my first 3. I had my surgery almost 2 yrs ago (July 1st) and I wasn't showing any signs of menapause at all. I was on oral BC and had been for a while but my periods had gotten gradually worse even with them.
     
  18. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Member

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    I know it's going to do the same thing. But it's going to do it without having to pop a pill every day. Part of the reason I went off the pill was because I got fed up with having to pop a pill daily.
     
  19. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Having to take it at the same time every day does get tedious, but I figure one measly little pill per day is nothing compared to some of the drug regimens many people have to take in order to live. :lol:
     
  20. AJ Skatefan

    AJ Skatefan Well-Known Member

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    I know someone whose fibroids were so bad that she was anemic from all the bleeding. After a couple of minor procedures she was finally hospitalized and got an emergency hysterectomy. She bounced back better than ever and was wishing she'd done it years before. So if it's bad, just go for the hysterectomy.
     
  21. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Member

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    :lol:

    I do get your point, Anita. The thing is, I do not have to take anything to live (and fingers crossed that things stay this way for a loooooong time, if not always). So why would I want to take anything? :)

    I do realize it doesn't fully make sense, but I really don't like to take anything unless I really have to. And one poster mentioned the often forgotten truth: if you take pain medication for just anything frequently, you gradually have to up the dose - which means more and/or stronger pills. :scream:

    My periods used to kill in my teens - yet my mother would never allow me to take anything, and she had a real knack for finding my private stash of Advil. "What poison are you sticking into yourself" was the comment each and every time. She never did understand just how much it hurt. Same with other medication - if only possible with the given medication, she'd always make me dissolve whatever I'd been prescribed in hot tea...


    While I really appreciate everyone's contributions, sometimes I really wish people would read before answering. I've stated at least twice that I have very light and virtually pain free periods. At this point, my period days are the only pain free ones.

    And "just go for the hysterectomy"?

    Just last night I was reading statistics on how many hysterectomies are performed in the US precisely because of fibroids - which could have been dealt with or managed in a different way.

    You know, perhaps I might want to have children at some point, and perhaps I'm not keen on early-onset menopause at the age of 29...
     
  22. AJ Skatefan

    AJ Skatefan Well-Known Member

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    Well, I'm just telling you the experience of my friend. She tried all other options first. But she was older than you so I can see why you don't want to do that.
     
  23. ArtisticFan

    ArtisticFan Well-Known Member

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    Someone did suggest endometriosis.org. From what I have studied and heard, endo and fibroids often go hand in hand. While one doesn't cause the other, they are often found together. Additionally, only the severest of endo cases are spotted during ultrasounds. For years I complained about the pain and was given endless ultrasounds only to be told that there was no sign of any problem.

    My doctor's web site has some great info, including videos of him talking about both fibroids and endo. http://www.thomasllyons.com/dr__lyons.htm. I am not trying to say to go see him. I just personally think he is awesome and have been so much better since going to see him. Things aren't perfect yet, but there is progress.

    There is also a clinic in Atlanta that specializes in endo and fibroids. The web site is http://www.centerforendo.com/. I spoke to one of their call center nurses for about an hour when I was first diagnosed. For insurance reasons I went with Dr. Lyons, but these guys were just awesome about answering my questions and what not.

    I was diagnosed with fibroids about a year ago. The experience of being diagnosed was horrible for me. I had put on a few pounds in my lower stomach for seemingly no reason (later learned that it was due mostly to the fibroids). I felt pressure all the time and had to go to the bathroom all the time (usually rushed there). I had heavy and irregular bleeding that made me anemic and was experiencing horrible pain even when it was not that time of the month. It had become unbearable for me.

    I went for my annual OB/GYN appointment - a new doctor since I had moved. He was horrible. He performed all sorts of tests, but told me that I was walking so obviously the pain wasn't that bad. He told me that he thought it was the 14 pounds I had gained and that if I lost the weight I'd feel better. When the ultrasound revealed the six fibroids and that my uterus was nine times the size that it should be, he said that was probably the cause and that women often had fibroids.

    He said the solution would be a hysterectomy. I don't want children so I was fine with that, but he hesitated. I asked why and he informed me that with the size of my uterus and a previous abdominal surgery I had already had made me high risk. Since I had not had children vaginal hysterectomy was out. I asked what was I supposed to do. His answer? Go to a pain clinic and learn to live with the pain. Suggestion two was to see a psychiatrist and learn to think about other things than complaining about pain.

    After I threw the referral to a psychiatrist (he said I was probably just depressed) back at him and stormed out, I began doing my research. Dr. Lyons was the name that came up again and again for me. While you may or may not have endo, there are support groups in most areas that you can research. They are fabulous at recommending local doctors who specialize in endo and fibroids. I have found that finding a doctor who specializes in endo and fibroids was right for me. I don't need fertility counseling or discussions about that. I needed a doctor to help me stop the pain.

    So my advice to you is to find a doctor who specializes and will talk to you. I ended up taking my best friend and my mother to my first appointment with Dr. Lyons. He called all three of us back before he ever examined me and went through my whole medical history. He answered my questions and theirs before the exam and then again afterward. I can't tell you how much that helped me. No, it didn't stop the pain, but to find someone who knew what he was talking about and listened was great.

    We put off the hysterectomy for another few months because I have only recently gotten a new job. I know I have to do it, but I didn't want to miss the time at work yet. I was put on continuous doses of Loestrin birth control pills. I don't have periods now and rarely have the pain or other symptoms. Only on really bad days can I tell there is a problem and then a low dose of pain meds is all I need. I don't want to be on the pill continuously so eventually I will have surgery, but in the mean time I'm able to function.
     
  24. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    BC pills are completely different from painkillers, though. Hormones are really potent stuff - it only takes a little for your body to react to it, and it never gets to the point where you have to "up the dose."

    I don't like taking drugs either, which is why I decided not to continue with BC. But I don't judge others if they choose to do so. It's all about having the knowledge first to make the decision with.

    Hysterectomies won't give you menopause, since IIRC your ovaries will still be intact. The procedure will take out the uterus. Which I think is still a very invasive surgery (especially if you feel you might want to have children later), but it's really up to you. If it's the last resort and the pain is too much, don't feel bad about opting for it. That's what it's there for.
     
  25. ArtisticFan

    ArtisticFan Well-Known Member

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    I forgot to mention that the fact that you said you were about two years off the pill. According to some of the research I did, it is very likely that your periods will become more painful and heavier (as they were in your teens if not worse) the longer you are off the pill or some form of hormone therapy.

    No, I don't have scientific proof, but anecdotal evidence. I have many friends who have gone off the pill to try to get pregnant. While struggling to get pregnant their symptoms seem to gradually or sometimes even more rapidly come back.

    My advice is to just kep asking questions of all your doctors. If the symptoms you have don't match fibroids according to the Internet, tell them that. Make them convince you or look for other answers. You know your body. They are just making educated guesses.

    That said, while there are typical fibroid symptoms, not everyone experiences them that way. It is one of the things about pelvic pain. There are so many possibilities that could be causing any discomfort or pain.
     
  26. ArtisticFan

    ArtisticFan Well-Known Member

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    One of the choices some women are faced with is if they want to take the ovaries too. My endo is so severe that I was told that was the best solution for me. But others can do fine with them still intact.

    The original poster said she was not diagnosed with endo based on the ultrasound. However, ultrasounds don't always show endo unless it is so severe as to deform the organs or attach them, etc. Mine wasn't diagnosed until I had an exploratory surgery.

    There are surgical options for fibroids. However, the concern is that the younger the woman the more likely it is they will reform.
     
  27. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

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    To the OP, how big are these fibroids the sonographer reported?

    Your issue does kind of sound like endometriosis. My sister has that - lots of pain even sans period. BC didn't work, so they switched her onto Lupron for a while - an injection that puts you into a temporary medical menopause. It worked for her pain but the hot flashes were unbearable. An acupuncturist fixed her up for a long time. She stopped going once things got better, although now the pain is back, so she's looking for a new acupuncturist (she changed cities in the interim period).
     
  28. MOIJTO

    MOIJTO Banned Member

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    Birth control didn't work for me either, it actually made things worse. Acupuncture is very good for all kinds of illness and injuries.
     
  29. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Member

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    The sonographer didn't give me any details, just mentioned their presence.

    Again, it's possible I have endometriosis as well. I'm seeing my GP next week for the results next week, so I guess I'll find out more then. I had never heard of fibroids before, so thought I'd ask on here about other women's experiences.

    Whatever it is, I hope the doc can help me, and fast. It's gotten a lot worse over the past few months and this month it is just horrid. Woke up from the pain last night and it was so bad I took 2 pain pills - and then spent 2 hours nearly in tears because the stuff didn't kick in. :(
     
    shan and (deleted member) like this.
  30. altai_rose

    altai_rose Well-Known Member

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    Maybe you have this as well as the fibroids? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mittelschmerz

    ETA: Regarding endometriosis, by the way, one of the screening questions is whether you have pain on defecation. So if it's not TMI, do you?