Can Fibroids Cause Missed Periods?

Marie-Claire De Villiers
By Marie-Claire De Villiers
Head and Shoulders Photo of Michelle Meyer
Edited by Michelle Meyer

Published August 3, 2022.

Woman sitting on sofa pressing her hands against her abdomen

Fibroids are abnormal growths of tissue, like a knot, which are usually harmless but can have bad side effects where they hinder your body's normal functions.

In the uterus, they may trigger much heavier bleeding during menstruation or even between periods. This bleeding may interfere with conception and with the length of the menstrual cycle.

Causes and Symptoms of Fibroids

Fibroids may be very damaging to the normal functions in a specific place in your body—for example, a fibroid in your spine might paralyze you. However, when they grow in or around the uterus, they likely come from an abnormal muscle cell in the muscly walls of the uterus and are not malignant or cancerous. Once they are in the uterus, they are affected by the hormone, estrogen. When estrogen is released during ovulation, it makes the fibroids grow, just like fertilized eggs might grow after conception. Fibroids may also be linked to a hormonal imbalance, affecting the regularity of your periods.

The symptoms of fibroids include the following:

  • Heavy bleeding during periods (rapidly soaking through pads and tampons)
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Anemia caused by loss of blood
  • Low back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Complications during pregnancy or labor

How Fibroids Affect Your Period

You might miss your period because of fibroids if you bleed between periods. This creates hormonal irregularities which disrupt the menstrual cycle and might prevent ovulation. It's important to consult your gynecologist about this. An ultrasound investigation or MRI might reveal fibroids or uterine polyps. Treatment might mean having the fibroids surgically removed, or trying to manage them with hormones or other medication.

You may experience intense pain during your period when you have fibroids. This may need medical investigation if the pain is overwhelming. There are various ways to relieve period cramps, including using painkillers, exercising, avoiding certain foods, applying hot compresses, and staying hydrated. Painful periods can be managed in most cases by using a hormonal contraceptive pill. However, pain and bleeding caused by fibroids need special medical management.

Fibroids may cause heavy menstrual bleeding because they affect the growth of veins and blood supply in the uterus. When you have a period and the endometrium is shed from the uterus, it will have a bigger surface area or more blood vessels, causing heavier bleeding than normal. This might also cause clots to form.

The Risks of Not Treating Fibroids

If they are not treated or removed, fibroids may grow bigger and may multiply over the surface of the uterus, disrupting possible conception and causing serious anemia. They might burst, causing severe pain and further bleeding. It would be better to consult your gynecologist and consider having them removed, possibly by uterine fibroid embolization, which is a surgical procedure performed without general anesthesia.

When to Be Concerned About Missing Your Period

If you are tracking your menstrual cycle, either by your own observation of physical changes or by using apps and devices, you may quickly notice a missed or late period. Each woman and each cycle is different and may vary slightly, so close observation is helpful. Depending on your environment, stress level, age, or illness, you may experience hormonal shifts which might lead to a late or missed period.

You should be concerned if the missed period happens at least three times, is coupled with pain, or you suspect it could be a pregnancy. Repeated missed periods could also be an indication of cancer. Therefore, a checkup is essential. Get professional help to assess the fibroids and prevent further problems from developing.