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Home > Learn > FYI > >A Guide to Fibroid Pain Relief

A Guide to Fibroid Pain Relief

Jun 23, 23 6 min

By Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, OBGYN

So what are fibroids? Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are growths found on the wall of the uterus. Fibroids are made of smooth muscle cells and other materials. [1] Fibroids are not cancerous and are actually the most common type of non-cancerous tumors in females of childbearing age. [1] 

What Does Fibroid Pain Feel Like?

Not everyone with fibroids will experience symptoms, but some do. Because of their location, fibroids can cause painful or uncomfortable symptoms, such as [2]:

  • Heavy bleeding or painful periods
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Pain during sex
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Lower back pain

Additionally, fibroids may cause anemia, frequent urination, infertility, early onset of labor, and an increased likelihood of a cesarean section. [2] Read Fibroids, Fertility, and Pregnancy

Treatment Options for Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids tend to grow slowly if they grow at all. In some cases, fibroids will begin to shrink on their own, especially after menopause. [3] Not everyone will need treatment for uterine fibroids unless they are causing you pain, discomfort, or they’re interfering with reproductive function. Your healthcare provider will likely take into account your age, family planning goals, and other factors when determining what treatment options may be suitable for you. [2] 

Medications

Prescription medications such as hormonal birth control, IUDs, hormone blockers, or hormone modulators can all be used to treat fibroids. [4] These medications may help manage symptoms such as heavy or painful periods, or may even be able to shrink fibroids. Hormonal birth control includes estrogen and progesterone in the form of a pill, patch, vaginal ring, and other types. Birth control may help control heavy bleeding or painful periods, but have the potential to cause fibroids to grow. [4] Progestin only devices such as IUDs can also relieve heavy or painful bleeding and are recommended for those with very large fibroids. Hormone agonists work to block the body from creating specific hormones. These can reduce the size of fibroids, but their effects on hormone production may lead to symptoms similar to menopause and will stop ovulation and menstruation from occurring. [4] Hormone modulators can slow or stop the growth of fibroids and reduce symptoms. Most medical treatments can only provide temporary relief from symptoms, and fibroids may grow or return after treatment stops. [4] You should speak to your healthcare provider about your options. 

Surgeries

Other options for treating or removing fibroids include uterine artery embolization, endometrial ablation, ultrasound treatments, myomectomy, and hysterectomy. [4] Uterine artery embolization involves making a minor cut in the groin area and injecting small plastic or gel particles into the uterine arteries. This blocks blood from reaching the fibroids with the goal of shrinking the fibroids and relieving symptoms. Endometrial ablation is a procedure that destroys the uterine lining through electric currents, freezing, or microwave energy. [4] Myomectomy is a procedure that removes fibroids but preserves healthy parts of the uterus. Hysterectomy is the removal of the whole or part of the uterus. [4] 

There is no guarantee that fibroids will not return after undergoing some of these surgical procedures. Some of these methods will make pregnancy impossible or very high risk, so it’s important to know all of the potential side effects before committing to any treatment. 

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Home Remedies for Fibroid Pain Relief

Uterine fibroids can cause pain or discomfort. While there are some treatment options for fibroids, such as surgery or prescription medications, home remedies may be more useful for quick pain relief and are less likely to impact fertility. 

Over-the-Counter Pain Medications

Taking pain relievers is one way to reduce the pain of uterine fibroids. [4] Some well known pain relievers include ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen. [5] Make sure you follow the directions on the bottle for dosage instructions. Daily use of pain relievers is not recommended unless you’ve been told otherwise by a healthcare provider. 

Warm Compresses 

Applying heat to the abdomen may help relax your muscles and relieve some pain. You can use a hot water bottle, heating pad, or take a warm bath. [5] 

Exercise

Even though exercising may be the last thing on your mind, research shows that regular exercise helps improve blood flow and releases endorphins, which can help with pain relief. [6] Regular exercise may also help you maintain a healthy weight, which can be helpful for reducing fibroid pain. [5]

Rest

Make sure you’re getting adequate sleep and that you allow yourself to rest if you are in pain. If you’re experiencing back pain as a result of fibroids, you may benefit from lying with a pillow under the knees or with your knees curled up towards your chest. These positions help relieve some of the pressure on your back. [5] 

Alter Your Diet

Some research suggests that certain dietary habits can worsen fibroids or trigger fibroid pain. [7] Foods such as refined carbohydrates and foods high in added sugar should be avoided. Some examples include white rice, pasta, flour, sodas, corn syrup, baked goods, chips, and crackers. Data shows that fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich foods may all help to reduce inflammation and prevent fibroid growth. [8] 

Vitamins and Supplements

Research shows that adequate levels of some vitamins, such as vitamin D, may decrease the risk of fibroids. [9] Data also suggests that maintaining healthy levels of these vitamins may improve the size and symptoms of fibroids. These vitamins include [10]:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

Get Support from Natalist 

You should always speak directly to a healthcare provider if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, or you have questions about your fertility and overall health. There is still an ample amount of research that needs to be completed to better understand the causes, treatment, and prevention methods for uterine fibroids. If you are needing tasty vitamin D gummies, self-care products, or other fertility and pregnancy items, Natalist can help. Visit the Natalist blog to learn more

 

References:

  1. Uterine Fibroids. NIH. Office of Communications. November 2 2018. URL
  2. What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids? NIH. Office of Communications. November 2 2018. URL.
  3. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Uterine fibroids: Overview. 2014 Oct 22 [Updated 2017 Nov 16]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279535/
  4. What are the treatments for uterine fibroids? NIH. Office of Communications. November 2 2018. URL
  5. Living with uterine fibroids. NIH. Medline Plus. January 10 2022. URL
  6. Geneen LJ, Moore RA, Clarke C, Martin D, Colvin LA, Smith BH. Physical activity and exercise for chronic pain in adults: an overview of Cochrane Reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;4(4):CD011279. Published 2017 Apr 24. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011279.pub3
  7. Pavone, D, Clemenza, S, Sorbi, F. Epidemiology and Risk Factors of Uterine Fibroids, Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Volume 46. 2018. Pages 3-11,ISSN 1521-6934. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2017.09.004.
  8. Tinelli A, Vinciguerra M, Malvasi A, Andjić M, Babović I, Sparić R. Uterine Fibroids and Diet. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(3):1066. Published 2021 Jan 25. doi:10.3390/ijerph18031066
  9. Dalton-Brewer, N. The Role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine for the Management of Fibroids and Associated Symptomatology. Curr Obstet Gynecol Rep 5, 110–118 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13669-016-0156-0
  10. Ciebiera M, Ali M, Zgliczyńska M, Skrzypczak M, Al-Hendy A. Vitamins and Uterine Fibroids: Current Data on Pathophysiology and Possible Clinical Relevance. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;21(15):5528. Published 2020 Aug 1. doi:10.3390/ijms21155528
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