Every day uterine fibroids take a physical, mental, and emotional toll on hundreds of thousands of women. But there’s another side to this epidemic. Next to these women stand countless spouses and partners who also live with the helplessness and frustration of watching their loved ones suffer. How this affects intimate relationships often goes unmentioned.
“I really didn’t understand what was going on,” admitted Wayne Tyler regarding his wife’s emotional state. “Something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it. She was having irregular periods. We found out she had fibroids during a discussion with [the gynecologist]. For me to watch her go through this was painful because you want to help but you don’t know what to do.”
As Mr. Tyler noticed with his wife, uterine fibroids can disrupt menstrual cycles resulting in irregular and often unbearably heavy painful periods. Urinary incontinence and painful intercourse are also symptoms that can negatively affect a couple’s intimacy, leaving many women depressed and their partners worried.
“Sexually, there was no sex, to be quite honest,” Gwen Tyler told Ask4UFE. “I was bleeding so much and [my husband] was so concerned about it. He was very patient with me, but it made me feel really bad as a wife that I couldn’t take care of him the way that he needed to be taken care of. It really affected my marriage.”
Research shows the Tylers aren’t alone. In 2012, BioMed Central Women’s Health published the results of the Uterine Bleeding and Pain Women’s Research Study.1 Consisting of data from over 21,000 women 15-49 years of age across eight countries, the study looked at how uterine pain and bleeding, often related to fibroids, affected daily life.
Of the women diagnosed with uterine fibroids, over half reported fibroids having a mild to severe impact on their daily life in the last 12 months. And out of these women, nearly half said their sex life was negatively affected.
Uterine fibroids can have other devastating consequences—especially for couples that want to conceive. Depending on their location, fibroids may block sperm from reaching the egg or change the shape of the uterus, inhibiting implantation.2
“We had been trying to have children,” Mr. Tyler said. “This [fibroids] can be a very detrimental condition if nothing is done about it.”
And for the Tylers, doing nothing wasn’t an option. Learning about fibroids, researching treatment options, and attending doctor appointments were all done—together. This active participation and open dialogue is exactly what Mr. Tyler encourages partners—especially men—to do with their loved ones. “Husbands and partners who are going through this—the more you know about the condition the better,” advised Mr. Tyler. “It helps you to understand and have compassion.”
For couples fighting the fibroids battle together, having each other’s back may be the biggest source of encouragement and comfort. Referring to Mr. Tyler as her “biggest strength and support,” Mrs. Tyler said what she appreciated most was her husband’s presence.
In reply to his wife’s gratitude, Mr. Tyler replied, “My main focus was to make sure she was healthy. She is my better half.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Alicia Armeli is a Health Freelance Writer and Photographer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified Holistic Life Coach. She has master’s degrees in English Education and Nutrition. Through her writing, she empowers readers to live optimally by building awareness surrounding issues that impact health and wellbeing. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad, and volunteering in her community.
- Zimmerman, A., Bernuit, D., Gerlinger, C., Schaefers, M., & Geppert, K. (2012). Prevalence, symptoms and management of uterine fibroids: an international internet-based survey of 21,746 women. BioMed Central Women’s Health, 12(6). doi: 10.1186/1472-6874-12-6
- Guo, S. C., & Segars, J. H. (2012). The impact and management of fibroids for fertility: an evidence-based approach. Obstetrics & Gynecology Clinics of North America, 39(4): 521-533. doi: 10.1016/j.ogc.2012.09.005