Fibroids can lead to constipation when they become large or exert pressure on the colon or rectum.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. They’re the most common type of benign tumor found in the female reproductive system.
Fibroids vary in size, ranging from small, pea-sized nodules to large tumors that can distort the shape and size of the uterus. When fibroids grow large enough, they can compress the surrounding structures, including the bowel, potentially leading to symptoms like constipation.
When fibroids are large or positioned in a way that exerts pressure on the colon or rectum (located behind the uterus), they can hinder the smooth passage of stool and lead to constipation.
What fibroids cause constipation?
Fibroids that grow toward the back of the uterus, closer to the colon and rectum, are more likely to cause constipation symptoms. The size of the fibroids can also play a role, with larger fibroids having a higher chance of causing constipation.
Constipation isn’t considered an extremely common side effect of fibroids, but it’s not rare. The likelihood of fibroid-related constipation depends on the size and location of the fibroids and their impact on the adjacent structures, like the rectum or colon.
Another study of 195 premenopausal women with uterine fibroids found that 45% experienced incomplete emptying at the end of a bowel movement.
It’s estimated that nearly
The symptoms of fibroid-related constipation can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms include:
- Difficulty passing stool: Fibroids pressing on the rectum can make it harder for stool to pass through, leading to difficulty or straining during bowel movements.
- Infrequent bowel movements: Fibroids can result in fewer than usual bowel movements per week.
- Hard or lumpy stool: Constipation associated with fibroids may result in the production of hard, dry, or lumpy stool.
- Feeling of incomplete bowel evacuation: Despite passing stool, individuals may still feel a sense of incomplete emptying of the bowels.
- Abdominal discomfort or pain: When fibroids grow larger, they can stretch and distort the uterus, leading to discomfort or a sense of fullness in the abdomen.
When fibroids grow larger or are positioned near the bowel, they can exert pressure, leading to compression or partial blockage. This pressure can hinder the typical movement and passage of stool through the intestines, leading to symptoms like constipation and changes in bowel habits.
Fibroids can also cause bowel issues indirectly by affecting the blood supply and hormonal balance in the pelvic area.
For instance, large fibroids may interfere with blood flow to the surrounding organs, including the bowel, which can affect their typical functioning.
There are several options available for managing fibroids and relieving constipation symptoms:
- Hormonal therapies: Your doctor may prescribe hormonal therapies, like GnRH agonists, which
researchshows can help shrink fibroids and reduce their impact on bowel function. Hormonal therapy is primarily used to decrease the size of the fibroid before surgery or when working with females approaching menopause.
- Fibroid embolization: This minimally invasive procedure involves blocking the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and alleviate symptoms. Evidence suggests fibroid embolization has a success rate of about 85%.
- Surgical intervention: In cases where fibroids are causing severe symptoms, surgical removal of the fibroids (myomectomy) or removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) may be recommended.
- Symptom management: In addition to treating the fibroids themselves, managing constipation symptoms may involve lifestyle modifications and dietary changes. Increasing fiber intake, drinking plenty of fluids, regular exercise, and using over-the-counter laxatives or stool softeners can help improve bowel function.
Fibroids can lead to constipation when they become large or are positioned in a way that impacts bowel function.
Fibroids are often treated through hormonal medication, fibroid embolization, or in severe cases, surgical interventions. Lifestyle modifications, like consuming more fiber and staying hydrated, can also help alleviate constipation symptoms.
If you’re experiencing constipation or other symptoms related to fibroids, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment recommendations.