Some studies show that up to 80% of women will develop uterine fibroids, benign tumors in the uterus that can cause a wide range of symptoms, at some point in their life.
So what causes uterine fibroids to develop, what makes fibroid symptoms worse, and can they be prevented?
Common Causes of Uterine Fibroids
If the majority of women will develop fibroids, it’s reasonable to wonder what causes them and if you are susceptible to developing fibroids without knowing it.
Recent studies have shown that these factors can have an influence:
- Age. Most women who have fibroids are diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 55, but women can experience symptoms from fibroids before the age of 35.
- Race. Not only are African American women more likely to develop fibroids compared to other races, they also tend to develop fibroids at a younger age and have large, more symptomatic fibroids.
- Family history. Developing fibroids is genetic, so you’re at an increased risk if fibroids run in your family, especially if your mother or sister had fibroids.
- Lifestyle and environmental factors. Although there isn’t definitive evidence, having a balanced diet, limiting alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy weight have all shown to reduce the risk of developing fibroids.
Unfortunately, it is still unclear exactly what causes fibroid tumors to develop. Each woman may have a very different experience with fibroids – the tumors can grow at a different pace, the number of fibroid tumors can vary, and the location of the fibroids can be different from person to person.
What Causes Fibroids to Grow?
Fluctuating hormone levels, specifically estrogen and progesterone, can cause changes in the size of fibroids. Symptoms caused by fibroids usually worsen during each menstrual cycle for this reason.
Women with fibroids that do not cause symptoms may not require treatment and can have hope that fibroids typically shrink during menopause because of the drop in estrogen.
Can Fibroids be Prevented?
Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there is no evidence that shows ways to prevent uterine fibroids from growing. The most important thing to keep in mind if you have been diagnosed with fibroids and are experiencing symptoms, is that there are many options available for treatment.
Schedule an appointment at Genesee Valley Obstetrics & Gynecology at (585) 641-0399 to learn more about uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a non-surgical fibroid treatment. option.