Constant bleeding, anaemia, severe pain and bloating have become the norm for fibroid sufferer Audrey Young.
The 50 year old, from Hamilton, Leicester, has suffered from uterine fibroids for the past three years, with her symptoms getting progressively worse.
Explained Audrey, who has a 17 year old son: “My periods were getting heavier but I just thought it was my age. I went on holiday and the bleeding was so heavy that I thought something wasn’t quite right. I went to the doctor when I got back and the scan showed I had a fibroid that was 2cm in size. The doctor also found a polyp, which was benign when they tested it.”
“My stomach bloats out like I’m pregnant and the blood is just pouring out of me – on some days I have to change my sanitary towel every hour as I’m just flooding. The pain is hideous and I can even feel where the fibroid is – on my left hand side.”
“Because I’m losing so much blood I’m very anaemic and have to take liquid iron, which is not great as it makes me constipated.”
Uterine fibroids – benign (non-cancerous) lumps that develop in the womb – are common, with around 40 in every 100 women developing them at some time in their life.
They most often occur in women aged from 30-50 years old, but can develop in women younger and older. Fibroids are two-three times more common in Afro-Caribbean women and they also tend to be larger and more numerous.
Many women are unaware that they have fibroids because they have no symptoms. However, around one in every three women with fibroids experience some symptoms that may include heavy, long and painful periods, bleeding between periods, feeling ‘full’ in the lower part of the stomach, pain or discomfort during sex, problems getting pregnant and miscarriages.
Audrey, an Admin and Business Officer in Local Government, was given medication to reduce the bleeding. Although initially successful the bleeding is now heavier and a recent scan showed that the fibroid has grown from 2cm to 3.5cm.
Audrey now fears that she may be advised to have major surgery, which she is hoping to avoid.
“I knew it was getting bigger as the pain and the blood clotting is much worse. The doctors are suggesting a hysterectomy as one of the options but I really don’t want that. I’m going to go back to my consultant and discuss what other choices I have as I am worried about having a big operation.”
Audrey, whose mother had fibroids and underwent a hysterectomy, advises other women who are suffering symptoms of heavy periods, pain and bloating to see their doctor.
“Don’t just ignore it if you are bleeding heavily and have pain – get it checked out as it may be fibroids. Don’t let people fob you off saying it is normal – get that appointment with the doctor and find out what the problem is and how it can be treated.
“And don’t let it take over your life – I always try to get on with things and not let fibroids control me.”
For further information about fibroids, including the causes, symptoms and treatment options, visit the patient websitewww.fibroidsconnect-2.richweb.io , the British Fibroid Trust at www.britishfibroidtrust.org.uk or NHS Choices at www.nhs.uk
 NHS Choices 1, Fibroids, at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Fibroids/Pages/Introduction.aspx (accessed February 2015)