Fibroids affecting a relationship
With an estimated 80 per cent of women in any black population at risk of developing fibroids during their reproductive years, at least two local gynaecologists have called upon men to be more considerate when the medical condition makes sexual intercourse unbearable for their wives or girlfriends.
Obstetrician/gynaecologist (OB/GYN) Dr Leslie Meade said he knows of cases where relationships have ended due to the debilitating symptoms associated with fibroids.
"For persons with fibroids, one of the main complaints is prolonged abnormal bleeding. Now if it is that you are married or in a stable relationship, the period of sexual intercourse is part of how a couple bonds, so then it can cause a sort of disharmony. Of course, it causes pain and if a woman is in pain, she is not going to enjoy sex, nor would she want to engage in sexual intercourse," he explained.
Fibroids are benign tumours that often form on the uterus wall of some women during childbearing years. While not every woman with fibroids experiences symptoms, there are those who have heavy bleeding, pain during sex, lower back pain and complications during pregnancy.
Because of the severity of the symptoms, there are some women who have to do a hysterectomy and this makes it impossible to have children afterwards.
"If it is that you have to end up having a hysterectomy and there are no children or you had planned as a couple to have two or three and you only have one, sometimes this can be a problem as well. The other partner might choose to 'go out'," he points out.
The OB/GYN notes that some women are very conscious about going anywhere when bleeding heavily. There is also the fact that fibroids can affect one's level of productivity and so some women are unable to go to work and earn an income.
"One of the main reasons for divorce and break-ups in relationships is finances, and this is affected when a woman cannot work," the gynaecologist noted.
Meanwhile, St Catherine-based OB/GYN, Dr Charles Rockhead said that he has been approached on more than one occasion by men who are desperate for some form of release for their spouse.
"Having sex when the woman has fibroids, especially when they are degenerating, can result in severe pain, and, therefore, clearly affects your sex life," he said.
"In women who have heavy periods, prolonged periods or, severe periods, what you find is that the woman gets miserable; she does not perform her home duties such as taking care of the children and the household as effectively as she should because of the severe pain and discomfort," he said.
He notes that while surgery to remove fibroids is the most common gynaecological procedure performed by doctors, fibroids can be removed with the use of various techniques, but both he and Dr Meade agreed that diet cannot be used to get rid of the benign growths.
"Eating properly will have a holistic effect on the body in terms of keeping it healthier, but that won't necessarily cause the fibroids to shrink," emphasised Dr Rockhead.