Continuing with Fibroid Awareness Month, I want to share my fibroid story in hopes that it helps you with your journey. If you have been recently diagnosed, you may feel like you are the only one. I know I felt this way.
You may be surprised to learn that roughly 70-80% of women develop them by the time they reach menopause. (Click on the link to read my post What Are Fibroids for more information).
Here’s my fibroid story.
I was diagnosed with a fibroid in my late twenties. My doctor told me we would watch them and ‘wait-and-see.’
I had symptoms of hormone imbalances from the start. I thought that was just the way life was.
As my fibroids grew, my symptoms got worse, and new ones popped up. Some very obviously related to my cycle, others not at all.
Here’s what I experienced as my fibroid story unfolded.
My fibroid story starts with my first periods. When I was young, my periods were painful and heavy. I wanted to sit curled up in a ball and stay close to the bathroom. While the pain improved and went away as I got older, my periods remained relatively long and heavy. They lasted a good seven days, and about 3-4 of these days, the flow was heavy. Some months were worse than others.
Around the time my first fibroid was found, I started to notice that I was spotting a few days before my period began. It confused me because I wasn’t sure when to say the first day of my period was at my annual checkups.
I went on the birth control pill to help with the spotting, reduce my flow and stop the fibroid from growing.
The spotting got worse on the pill. I’ll take part of the blame for that because I was a lousy pill taker. I was not consistent. I took it at different times each day because I would forget. Sometimes I missed a day and would take two pills in one day. I wore a pantyliner every day just in case.
Night sweats were possibly the worst symptom I had. These started a couple of years after my doctor diagnosed my fibroid. I would start the night comfortable and cozy under my comforter and then wake up and throw it off in the middle of the night because I was sweating. Then, I’d fall asleep again, wake up cold, and pull the blankets back on, only to get hot again. It made for restless sleep.
I didn’t know at the time what was going on. Night sweats weren’t in my vocabulary.
I thought I couldn’t figure out what temperature to keep my flat because I had just moved from Chicago to London, and I had all the windows open at night. But then, I noticed it didn’t seem to matter if I was in London or Chicago or any other city.
Bloating & Constipation
My digestion ranked only slightly below the night sweats as my worst symptom. I was bloated, constipated, and very gassy at night. I dropped tiny hard pellets up until my period, and then my stools got much, much softer.
I was exhausted. Of course, I never would have admitted that back then. On most days, I stayed up late and got up early. I took a lot of naps before going out on weekend nights. I fell asleep on long car rides. And, I could easily sleep until 10 am on the weekends.
I have always been a calm person that does well under stress. However, I started to get much more emotional in my early 30’s. The work environment was stressful. I remember two distinct instances where I ran out of the office or into the bathroom to cry.
My face started breaking out. I didn’t have acne as a teen, but in my late 20’s/early 30’s I got a lot of the big red pumps that last for weeks and leave a mark for months. So I went to a dermatologist, and he didn’t prescribe anything but for me to wash my face. That didn’t help, but I do think taking the pill did.
I developed seasonal allergies. I remember emailing a friend that I wanted to rip my nose and eyes off because they itched so much. I thought it was strange because I never had an allergy issue before but thought maybe it was because I was in a new city.
Towards my mid-30’s, my legs also itched like crazy. I couldn’t figure out why so I went to another dermatologist. She said I should avoid taking hot showers, shower less often, and use less soap. Unfortunately, these suggestions didn’t help.
It’s All Connected
You might be thinking, what do allergies and itchy legs have to do with my menstrual cycle. Well, on the surface, it’s hard to link.
But if you understand that the body systems are all connected, you can see how my constipation and bloating impacted my hormone balance and led to worsening symptoms.
For example, fibroids are an estrogen-dominant condition, meaning you have excess estrogen in your body. When you are constipated, your body recycles excess estrogen back through the body instead of excreting it out in the stool. Addressing constipation can help relieve some excess estrogen. See my post about constipation here.
I wanted to share all my symptoms with you, so you might also consider all your symptoms as signs that your body is out of balance and clues for what you can work on first. Unfortunately, when it comes to hormone issues like fibroids, there is no magic pill. But there are steps you can take to bring your body more in balance that will help shrink your fibroids or at least stop the growth.
I encourage you to take action rather than just ‘watching.’
If you’d like to read more fibroid stories, check out The White Dress Project. It’s a non-profit focused on educating women and spreading the word about fibroids and women’s health.
I’d love to hear your fibroid story. What symptoms are/were you experiencing with your fibroids?