In a recent study over half the women surveyed (52%) believe heavy periods are just part and parcel of being female, with 45% unaware that excessive menstrual bleeding is one of the main symptoms of uterine fibroids – a painful and debilitating condition that can cause fertility problems and miscarriages, and in some cases lead to hysterectomies.
The new research has revealed an alarming lack of awareness amongst women of the potential health problems associated with heavy periods.
More than five out of ten (55%) do not know or are unsure what uterine fibroids are, with some (26%) thinking they are cysts and others (3%) even believing them to be a sexually transmitted disease. Over half (55%) are unaware that fibroids – benign (non-cancerous) lumps that develop in the womb – can cause complications getting pregnant and miscarriages.
It revealed that many women are unlikely to seek medical help for heavy periods, with 44% saying they do not think the problem is serious enough and 41% being too embarrassed or not wanting to waste a doctor’s time (29%).
Uterine fibroids affect 40 in every 100 women at some time in their life. They can have a severe impact on a woman’s quality of life, with many sufferers admitting they affect their work, relationships with partners and also cause depression. Despite this, women often wait up to five years before speaking to a doctor about their symptoms.
“It’s not surprising that many women simply put up with heavy periods, as it can be difficult to know what ‘normal’ is.
“If you’re having ‘flooding’ incidents and your periods are starting to have an impact on your daily life, then this isn’t normal. Heavy periods can be a sign of uterine fibroids, so if you think you have a problem, go and see your GP.”
“Like many conditions, the earlier fibroids are diagnosed the easier they can be to treat, so it’s important not to ignore potential warning signs. There are different treatment options available, some of which do not involve a hysterectomy or other major surgery that can affect fertility, which is important for those women who still want children.”
Dr Rosemary Leonard
Uterine fibroids most often occur between the ages of 30-50 years old, but can be found in women younger and older. One in every three women with fibroids experience symptoms, the most common being heavy periods – 70% of sufferers have excessive menstrual bleeding.
The research also revealed that women are unaware of the other symptoms of uterine fibroids, with six out of ten not knowing that bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, pain during sex, constipation and frequent urination can all be signs.2
As fibroids tend to be more common as women get older and because they can affect fertility, Dr Rosemary explained why this is a particular challenge as more women are choosing to have children at a later age.
“Women are now having babies in their thirties and even 40s, an age when fibroids can occur which can then impact on your ability to become pregnant and carry a baby full term. It’s therefore even more important not to ignore symptoms and go to see your GP, as early diagnosis and treatment could help prevent fibroids affecting your fertility.”
About the study
The research was carried out in July, 2015, with 1005 women across the UK. Participants were aged from 18 to 60.
 www.fibroidsconnect.com was fully developed and funded by Gedeon Richter
 NHS Choices, Fibroids, at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Fibroids/Pages/Introduction.aspx (Accessed August 2015)
 Insight into the Lives of Uterine Fibroid Patients (Quantitative Research), Research Partnership, April 2015
 Downes E., et al. The burden of uterine fibroids in five European countries. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Reproductive Biology. 2010; 152(1): 96-102
 Data on file (Gedeon Richter, 2013)
 Office for National Statistics. Live Births in England and Wales by Characteristics of Mother 1, 2013
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/characteristics-of-Mother-1–england-and-wales/2013/stb-characteristics-of-mother-1–2013.html (Accessed August 2015)