Uterine fibroids are common, non-cancerous, growths that frequently occur during a woman's reproductive years. For some women, the pain from fibroids can be extreme. As a result of fibroids, the uterus, which is normally the size of a small pear, may grow to the size of a large watermelon. The enlarged uterus puts excess pressure on the bowel, bladder, abdomen, or back, resulting in pain.
Treating the Pain with Medication
1. Take over-the-counter pain relievers. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen are mild pain medications that are available without a prescription. These agents are often recommended by healthcare providers to help with pain associated with menstrual discomfort and uterine fibroids.
2. Consider adding iron supplements. If your pain and discomfort is associated with heavy menstrual bleeding, you may be anemic. Your doctor can do simple blood tests to determine if your iron level is below normal.
3. Ask your doctor about prescription medications. Stronger pain medications and anti-inflammatory agents are available with a prescription and can help make the symptoms more manageable. In some cases, prescription medications can help to slow the growth of some types of uterine fibroids.
4. Take low-dose birth control pills. Low-dose oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, as well as progesterone injections, have been successfully used to help with fibroid pain and may be an option for you. Low-dose birth control pills contain smaller amounts of estrogen so they do not cause the fibroids to grow, plus they help to control the menstrual flow during periods.
5. Consider gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists, especially if you are planning a medical procedure. Drugs classed as gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists can help to shrink fibroids.
Using Techniques and Lifestyle Changes to Control Your Pain
1. Understand risk factors for fibroids. There are some factors beyond your control that put you at greater risk of developing fibroids as well as some factors that you can control. Consider these factors as you begin to make adjustments to your lifestyle.
2. Apply heat to your lower abdomen. Warmth can help to improve blood flow and help your muscles to relax.
3. Use relaxation techniques. Lying down and resting can relieve pressure that may be contributing to the pain.
4. Eat a healthy diet. The foods you eat can make a difference in slowing the growth of fibroids.
5. Watch and wait. Treat the pain if it is manageable, watch for worsening, and wait. Fibroids will naturally begin to shrink after you go through menopause and your levels of estrogen decrease.
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