Painful Lower Belly Fat
June 26, 2020 7:00 AM   Subscribe

Over the past 6 months I've developed a lot of lower belly fat that under certain circumstances makes me look oddly pregnant. The trouble is that this area *hurts* and is an ongoing source of pain, heaviness, and pressure. I also have a lot of lower back pain, a frequent need to pee, and frequent IBS-like symptoms. Is this just part and parcel of weight gain, or am I missing something?
posted by Kitchen Witch to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you been checked by a doctor? Belly fat should not hurt -that makes me wonder if something else is going on. Pandemic or no you should get seen and probably get both bloodwork and some imaging done.
posted by leslies at 7:03 AM on June 26, 2020 [10 favorites]

This sounds like fibroids (which can be responsive to hormonal cycles) or another issue requiring assessment by a healthcare professional. Please make an appointment.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:06 AM on June 26, 2020 [26 favorites]

I've put on a fair amount of belly fat over the years and it has never hurt. This is concerning and doctor-worthy.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:06 AM on June 26, 2020 [6 favorites]

I have also gained a lot of lower belly fat this year and have none of your symptoms. Please do go get checked out - none of that is normal. Whatever's causing it, it's best to get it taken care of right away.
posted by randomnity at 7:08 AM on June 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I would see a doctor about that as soon as you can. Pain and IBS-type symptoms are not part of weight gain.
posted by anastasiav at 7:08 AM on June 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

I had a massive dermoid cyst when I was in my early 20s, which I completely dismissed for far too long because it didn't hurt. It made me look oddly pregnant (when I eventually went to see my GP he initially thought that I was playing a practical joke on him). I strongly suggest that you go for a check-up.
posted by confluency at 7:11 AM on June 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

I should add though, do check that the pain and increased bladder pressure are still around if you switch to much larger pants, especially if you're sitting a took, um, a friend, an embarrassingly long time to realize when a change in pant size was needed.
posted by randomnity at 7:14 AM on June 26, 2020 [6 favorites]

This could also be a hernia? Definitely worth going to a doctor about, it’s possible that it’s serious or at least something that needs to be treated.
posted by rue72 at 7:40 AM on June 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Oh, hi. I'm the nutty person who gets all deep and heavy in your question, but: Do you have ovaries? If yes, it's essential that you get this looked at by a doctor who takes you seriously and does a deep dive -- maybe even more than you think they should do -- into these sorts of vague feelings like "pressure" and "heaviness." This is how ovarian cancer presents and this is why ovarian cancer usually gets diagnosed very late, because there are a million other reasons why a person might have belly issues like this, ranging from "just gaining weight and that's all it is" to food allergies or sensitivities or IBS or menopause or early menopause or a million other things. I suggest you ask for an ultrasound, to begin with.

(My friend died of ovarian cancer 18 months ago and she was diagnosed very late because her belly fat was written off as weight gain and her feelings of pressure and heaviness were written off as normal for perimenopause.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:52 AM on June 26, 2020 [45 favorites]

I had two fairly sizeable ovarian cysts (both fortunately simple/benign) removed last year, and lower belly pain & tenderness/weird digestive stuff/needing to pee a lot more than usual were significant parts of the symptom profile. Loss of appetite/feeling full without eating a lot was another symptom, as were issues with pain during arousal and intercourse. Another vote for "get this checked out"; as someone who's also gained and lost a fair amount of weight over the years, what you're describing is not a sign of normal weight gain.
posted by terretu at 8:07 AM on June 26, 2020 [8 favorites]

Thank you for mentioning that, BlahLaLa - the exact same thing crossed my mind and I should have said so. While the same symptoms can definitely be many other things too, so there's no need to get too alarmed, that is one potential cause that needs to be ruled out ASAP. Similar symptoms can also be a sign of other abdominal cancers. So I will firmly echo the need to push your doctor to thoroughly investigate, even if they are dismissive, which unfortunately many will be. These symptoms have a cause and your doctor needs to figure out what it is, whether it ends up being something minor or not. (fwiw I studied ovarian cancer in grad school and talked to many people with the disease, so I'm also all too familiar with the frequency of delayed diagnosis due to vague symptoms that could be many things).
posted by randomnity at 8:13 AM on June 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Also to add: ovarian cysts are common, and quickly diagnosable with an ultrasound. Doesn't necessarily have to be the internal ultrasound, especially if the cysts are large enough to be painful. If your doctor is wavering, ask for an ultrasound.

(Apparently a lot get of cysts are only found 'accidentally' during pregnancy, because you can have no symptoms. After having an ovary removed because of an fricking enormous cyst only discovered during pregnancy, I am a firm believer that people-with-ovaries ought to be offered yearly ultrasounds to catch them. But we aren't because... eh, womens... why bother... )
posted by EllaEm at 8:18 AM on June 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

+1 to everyone above. Ovarian cancer is like pancreatic cancer in that the symptoms are easy to dismiss until it's too late for treatment. Benign cysts are much more common, but either way, the fact that it's causing you pain plus other symptoms means it should be checked out. Don't understate the severity of the pain or length of time it has persisted and insist on an ultrasound - if they say no, channel your inner Karen and say if they won't do it you want an immediate referral to an obgyn or gastroenterologist who will.
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:40 AM on June 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

To add a new thought, this may also be from pelvic floor muscles that are tight and spasming. I had all of these symptoms (plus a bit of weight gain that was presumably unrelated): bloating (to the point where i actually looked pregnant), GI issues, heaviness/pressure in my lower abdomen, symptoms of an ever present UTI (that was not a UTI) plus some actual pain- the symptoms also seemed to get worse with sex. After being checked out by my GP, GYN, and a urologist (the latter who was totally useless and commented that they mainly deal with male bodied persons), nothing sinister was found and out of desperation I went to a pelvic floor physio specializing in women's health. She diagnosed hypertonic pf muscles by the end of my first visit, and with pelvic floor exercises and internal massage my symptoms are now 90% gone.

So, tldr: if you get checked out by the professionals mentioned above and nothing is found to explain your symptoms, try a physio who specializes in pelvic floor.
posted by DTMFA at 8:57 AM on June 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Go get checked right away, it might be fluid (ascites) and not fat. You might be referred for a ultrasound or PET/CT scan.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:49 AM on June 26, 2020

Yes, doctor, asap.

A factoid that has made my life better: Urinary frequency/ incontinence is very often caused or exacerbated by even mild constipation. Fiber is good for you.
posted by theora55 at 11:23 AM on June 26, 2020

Lower belly fat shouldn’t hurt or cause any symptoms that say, arm fat, wouldn’t. I agree with the consensus - definitely see a doctor. There’s probably something going on with your digestive system and/or ovaries/uterus (if you have them). If the weight gain was sudden and/or unexplained, it’s worth mentioning that to the doctor - weight gain can be a symptom too.
posted by insectosaurus at 11:42 AM on June 26, 2020

Painful abdominal bloating can be a sign of some very serious stuff. MD asap.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:15 PM on June 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with those who say get checked for ovarian cancer. Your symptoms are similar to mine before my cancer diagnosis and surgery.
  • There are no definitive tests for ovarian cancer
  • Which makes doctors reluctant to diagnose it
  • Which means you need to become a very strong advocate for your own treatment
  • Demand abdominal, pelvic and vaginal untrasounds plus a CA125 blood test. This test looks for cancer markers in the blood but can also give some false results. The CA125 test is not foolproof at all but it is the best test we have so far for ovarian cancer.
  • Do not let your doctor fob you off. These symptoms are serious and should not be treated with lazy guesses.

posted by Thella at 3:27 PM on June 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

Ovarian or other cancers - liver or bowel. Run don't walk for an appointment.

- me, someone who used to be a hypochondriac before I was diagnosed with actual advanced cancer as an otherwise healthy 31 yo
posted by CancerSucks at 12:26 AM on June 27, 2020

Response by poster: I have a telehealth appointment with PP on Monday and I will ask about the possibility of me having fibroids. I didn't know what they even were until I read the replies to this ask. Hopefully PP can do non-pregnancy related ultrasounds?
posted by Kitchen Witch at 10:26 PM on June 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have the same symptoms and just got scoped from both ends on Wednesday.

I won't have full results for a few weeks but one thing the doctor was able to tell me immediately was that my stomach empties very slowly and I should eat 6 small meals a day and 2 of those should be liquid only.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:07 AM on June 29, 2020

Response by poster: Planned Parenthood said go to a gyno, full stop, do not pass go, because they can't do the full imaging this situation may require. :(

Unfortunately I am about to be insurance-less as I transition to a new job. I will have to wait until August. In the interim I should just track symptoms? The wonderful PP doctor was like be prepared to fight for at least an ultrasound because some gynos are idiots and I was like dude, for real.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 11:48 AM on June 29, 2020

No. Call PP back if you can or customer service at your insurance company and see if they can pull strings to get you in with a gyn or imaging center today or tomorrow (I'm assuming you have insurance but it ends 6/30) and if not go to an emergency room. If they find something simple and immediately treatable then great, problem solved, but if it's one of the more serious things these symptoms can indicate, a month is too long to wait.
posted by Flannery Culp at 12:45 PM on June 29, 2020 [6 favorites]

Coming back to echo Flannery Culp - do not wait 6 weeks. If this is one of the bad things 6 weeks could be a big difference.
posted by leslies at 4:04 PM on June 30, 2020

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