Fibroids can affect your sex life too
May 15 to 21, 2016, is dubbed National Fibroids Awareness Week, and it's quite fitting because it seems that every woman is affected by these non-cancerous growths on or in the muscle walls of the uterus. The statistics are depressing because some 80 per cent of women in Jamaica are affected in some way by uterine fibroids. I have experienced them both directly, with my own diagnosis, as well as through the ordeal that my older sister faced as she underwent two surgeries to remove fibroids. With all the information and treatment options available, many women still don't know that they have these growths in their womb. Some of us just credit the increase in our waistline to getting fat.
There are some women who have small fibroids that don't really present any symptoms. However, the larger fibroids can really wreak havoc on the reproductive system and present very inconvenient and painful symptoms. One of the symptoms of fibroids that I don't think is highlighted enough is its effects on a woman's sex life.
Painful intercourse - Depending on the size and location of the fibroids, sexual intercourse can be very painful for her. Some women complain about feeling a stabbing pain in their lower abdomen during sex. This can be a symptom of uterine fibroids.
Longer periods - With fibroids, bleeding is extended and periods last longer than usual. This definitely affects the desire for sex as well as the ability to engage in sexual activity. I have met women who say they have had month-long periods.
Heavy periods - In addition to hindering the possibility of sex itself, heavy bleeding can cause anaemia. Heavy bleeding also restricts a woman's ability to move around and go about her daily activities without having to worry about messing up her clothes.
Low self-esteem - With all the discomfort she is experiencing, her clothes feel different on her body, and overall, she's not feeling her best.
Bloating and other discomforts - The infamous PMS is real, and with uterine fibroids, it seems to magnify all the symptoms. So a woman is feeling bloated, irritable, and she is dealing with menstrual cramps as well. Any woman who has ever experienced PMS knows that it is not easy to get through a busy day much less get in the mood for sex.
Uterine incontinence - Feeling the need to urinate often can get in the way and make sex unappealing.
It is very important at this point for me to indicate that these are not just symptoms that affect women. Their partners are also affected, and it is vital that these partners participate with unconditional support. Men, especially, should learn more about how they can help to support their partners who suffer from this condition. It still surprises me that men are uncomfortable handling feminine products or even talking with their women about their symptoms and overall issues. Even during intercourse, men need to pay attention to their response and don't just focus on 'stabbing di meat'.
Like it or not, uterine fibroids are a reality for some women and we must find out as much as we can to treat the condition.
National Fibroids Awareness Week ends on Saturday with a symposium at the Jamaica College Auditorium, and I will be doing a presentation about my journey with the condition. I hope to see you there.
Dear Dr Sexy-Ann,
I am dating a great woman, but our relationship is new. I want to introduce her to my daughter, but I'm afraid of what my ex will say. How can I introduce them without my ex finding out?
Once you introduce your child to a new partner, you cannot stop the child from telling your ex. Children are not naturally deceptive, so they will talk. If you are not ready to tell the family, don't tell your child. Maybe you should wait until you are ready before you make any introductions.