You may be one of the many women who have uterine fibroids and don’t know it. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that form on your uterus. About 20 to 80% of women will have at least one fibroid by the time they are 50, and many have no symptoms.
Women of all ages can have fibroids, but they usually develop in women in their 30s to early 50s. Fibroids can be small or large; there can be many fibroids or just one; they can grow, shrink, or stay the same.
When they are symptomatic, they can cause heavy periods, pelvic pain, pain during sex, and lower back pain. They can also lead to fertility problems such as infertility or multiple miscarriages. At Advanced Endometriosis Center — Dr. Ulas Bozdogan and our team have extensive experience diagnosing and treating fibroids. Here they share important information on risk factors for developing uterine fibroids.
Fibroids are benign tumors that grow in and around the wall of the uterus. While no one knows exactly what causes fibroids to grow, they know that certain factors put you at higher risk of developing them. They are usually not cancerous or harmful in other ways. The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk of developing fibroids. Factors include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Being African American
- A family history of fibroids
- A diet heavy in red meat
- Vitamin D deficiency
Conversely, women who are not obese, and women who eat diets low in red meat and high in vegetables have a lower risk of developing fibroids. Hormone levels are also related to fibroids. For example, they generally develop when estrogen levels are high, such as during pregnancy, and shrink after menopause.
Fibroid treatment options
The first step to developing a treatment plan for your fibroids is a comprehensive exam that includes a pelvic exam or ultrasound to determine how big, how many, and the location of your fibroids. Your treatment plan will also focus on your specific symptoms. Some treatment options include:
- Birth control pills to shrink your fibroids
- Over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce your pain
Certain surgical procedures such as ablation to treat heavy periods and a hysterectomy to eliminate the fibroids are only options for women who don’t intend to have children or more children. Other procedures, such as minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, can remove the fibroids without further damage to your uterus.
Do you have symptomatic fibroids? Call the Advanced Endometriosis Center or book an appointment online for a diagnosis and treatment plan.