Coping With Fibroids
Learning to cope with fibroids isn't all about surgery and medical decisions. Some of the best means of coping with fibroids have to do with lifestyle changes, emotional support, and over-the-counter pain management. It will take a great deal of trial and error to discover what combination of tips and tricks work best to alleviate your condition and help you feel human, so it pays to have patience and to remain flexible and willing to try new tactics.
Let's start with support. Joining a support group either in person (take a look in the yellow pages) or online can be a helpful resource for a woman with fibroids on many levels. First of all, you can ask questions of other women who have been through the same situation and learn from their combined experience, second of all, it removes the feelings of isolation you may have: the feeling that you have been fingered by a Higher Being with a disfiguring and painful condition for reasons unknown.
You may be surprised to hear this, but it is believed that 30% of women over the age of 35 suffer from fibroids and around 50% of all black women have the condition. "You are not alone," isn't just a meaningless phrase when it comes to uterine fibroids. Go out and meet your community—it'll do you good.
Next let's address heavy menstrual bleeding. To begin with, all that loss of blood can cause you to become anemic. If you're feeling tired and short of breath, you should ask your doctor about having a blood count. But there is something you can do on your own: you can counter the loss of iron by eating iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, liver, legumes, nuts, seeds, and semolina cereal (Cream of Wheat). You can also start on an iron supplement.
But that's not the whole story. The bleeding carries with it tremendous inconvenience. Some women will wear a tampon plus a pad to catch any leaks, while others will double up on pads, pushing one higher up in front and one farther back, giving them a thicker center pad and a pad with greater length, too. There are special pads designed for women who have just had babies, but these tend to be quite bulky and not compatible with everyday clothing. You may want to lay in a stash of these for nighttime, though.
Another common problem is urinary frequency. You may be able to cut down on nighttime trips to the bathroom by avoiding all liquids after 6 P.M. But in general, it's a good idea to keep a chart of how often you drink and urinate. There are also medications that can help control urinary frequency. This is worth a discussion with your doctor, but come prepared with a chart you've kept for a few weeks on how many times you urinate and drink in each 24 hour period, how strong you felt the urge to urinate, and whether you experienced leakage.