For women experiencing painful sex and a loss in libido, a possible reason might be caused by uterine fibroids. Some women will simply deal with these changes chalking it up to perimenopause or menopause. However, uterine fibroids – non-cancerous tumors that grow either inside, outside, or within the walls of the uterus – are a more common occurrence than realized affecting between 60-80 percent of women and many unaware they have them.
Understanding uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are almost always benign, muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. The medical term for them is leiomyoma or just “myoma.” They can range in size from as small as an apple seed to as large as watermelon and can either grow as a single tumor or there can be many distributed within the uterus. They are most common in women in their 40s and early 50s.
The majority of fibroids grow in the wall of the uterus but they are categorized according to where they grow:
- Submucosal fibroids grow into the uterine cavity
- Intramural fibroids have grown within the wall of the uterus
- Subserosal fibroids grew on the outside of the uterus
Occasionally fibroids will grow out from the surface of the uterus or into the cavity of the uterus – these are called pedunculated fibroids.
If a woman has symptoms, they may include heavy bleeding with periods, a feeling of fullness in the pelvic or lower stomach area, enlargement of the abdomen, frequent urination or lower back pain.
Uterine fibroids impact on sex
While some women may not even realize they have uterine fibroids, if they do, they may not make the connection between diminished sex life and why uterine fibroids may be to blame.
There are several ways just having a uterine fibroid, especially one that is more significantly enlarged, will impact a woman’s bedroom activities. Here’s a look at this condition and the negative sexual changes it can bring about:
- Painful intercourse: Having pain during intercourse due to fibroids is often when fibroids grow close to the cervix that can result in more pain from the pressure the fibroids place on the uterus. Women experiencing pain during intercourse and in some cases, bleeding after sex should discuss this with their doctor. It can be a delicate topic to bring up but is necessary to preserve their sex life.
- Diminished sex drive: Besides painful sex, a lowered libido can be related to hormones as most women with uterine fibroids produce an excess of estrogen, which can lower sex drive.
- Changes in the menstrual cycle: A noticeable possibility of uterine fibroids can be abnormal periods. Heavier and prolonged menstrual cycles lasting more than 10 days along with frequent cramping, maybe indicating fibroids. Other menstrual changes some women may have include irregular bleeding that can make sex more uncomfortable.
- Noticeable fatigue: Some women report feeling more fatigued than usual when diagnosed with uterine fibroids. The fatigue may be trigged by anemia and sometimes accompanied by nausea and headaches. These symptoms alone can lead to a reduction in stamina required for fulfilling sex life.
- Increased urination: One of the symptoms of uterine fibroids can be increased frequency of urination. Just having the urge to seek out a bathroom many times a day can hinder sexual activity.
- Reduced self-esteem about appearance: Since uterine fibroids can cause bloating and an enlarged abdomen, these factors can lead to low self-esteem, especially during sex. Women, who feel physically unattractive in front of their partner, may find it difficult to have the desire for sex.
Improving sex for women with uterine fibroids
Women should not have to sacrifice a satisfying and fulfilled sex life all because of having benign conditions like fibroids. Fortunately, there are several ways to address fibroids negative impact on sex that can bring back and increase the enjoyment of this basic human need:
- Redefine intimacy: Sexual intercourse should not be the only focus during sexual intimacy. There are other ways to achieve sexual satisfaction through other means. This may include other intimate acts of sex and other loving ways to connect as a couple.
- Find more comfortable sexual positions: If a certain favored position for intercourse has become too painful, try out others. View this as an opportunity to explore and discover positions that may actually end up bringing more spice to your sex life.
- Consider uterine fibroid embolization (UFE): UFE is a non-surgical treatment for fibroids using an advanced ultrasound method called fibroid mapping to locate fibroids. The treatment takes about 30 to 45 minutes and is performed under light sedation helping a woman keep calm and comfortable during the procedure. Research has shown that UFE bring relief and improvement to the sex life of women with fibroids. Nearly 80 percent of participants surveyed using UFE a year after treatment reported improved sexual function or less pain during intercourse, increased desire and arousal, and improved satisfaction. Women with uterine fibroids should discuss UFE to see if this might be a treatment for them to consider.