Can you have fibroids after 50? While they may shrink once you enter menopause, they can also continue to cause symptoms. Learn more about menopause and fibroids as well as discover your treatment options below.
Fibroids are very unpredictable, which makes it very difficult to prevent and determine the cause, especially when it comes to information regarding uterine fibroids and menopause. However, research suggests that fibroid growth is linked to hormones ––specifically estrogen and progesterone.
For many women, fibroids grow during times when hormone levels are high, such as during pregnancy. On the other hand, fibroids tend to shrink when hormone levels are reduced, such as after menopause. Therefore, the risk of getting fibroids after menopause decreases.
Women between the ages of 40-49 are at the beginning of pre-menopausal hormonal fluctuations, the precursors to menopause. You may have missed periods due to fluctuations in estrogen levels and there could be spotting between periods.
Other symptoms of pre-menopause include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, fatigue and change in sexual desire. Menstrual irregularities are normal for the women undergoing pre-menopause. Some women may experience heavy bleeding during menopause to the extent that they become anemic due to heavy blood loss. If that happens with you, you may feel faint while sitting or standing. Try drinking salty liquids such as tomato soup to aid lightheadedness.
At this stage, the number of ovarian follicles declines and the ovaries become less responsive to the two other hormones involved in reproduction—Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH).
As you age, you release fewer FSH and LH hormones, which causes them to slow down, making it difficult to regulate the other hormones: estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Aging isn’t the only factor in what triggers menopause. A hysterectomy or surgical removal of the ovaries, which produce hormones can induce menopause. If you have surgery to remove your ovaries or uterus and are not taking hormones, you will experience the symptoms of menopause immediately and potentially more severely.
Fibroids and Menopause
During menopause, hormone levels like estrogen and progesterone go down. Because fibroids need hormones to grow, this reduces the risk of developing new fibroids. Women with fibroids and menopause often find that their fibroids shrink in size from going menopausal.
There are still fibroid risk factors for postmenopausal women. These risk factors include having high blood pressure, having low vitamin D levels, being obese, having a family history of fibroids, or being extremely stressed.
Like fibroids and menopause, menopause itself often causes unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms occur due to the fluctuation of hormone levels because hormones control a variety of important bodily functions, like regulating body temperature.
Hormones During Fibroids and Menopause
Progesterone and estrogen levels are lower during menopause than during previous stages of life. As your progesterone levels drop, the walls of the uterus build up over longer periods of time. This will eventually get to the point where menstruation no longer occurs. Menopause occurs once periods have stopped completely.
What hormone feeds fibroids? Hormones like estrogen feed uterine fibroids. Without their source of “food,” fibroids shrink and eventually die. This is similar to what happens during fibroid treatment. Instead of removing the fibroid entirely, the blood flow is cut off so that symptoms are relieved.
When you experience fibroids and menopause, fibroids then shrink over time without enough blood supply.
Hormone Replacement Therapy and Menopause
Many women approaching menopause want to preserve their uterus by taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). If you are thinking about taking HRTs to prevent the symptoms of menopause, it’s important to be aware of the risks.
HRTs can provide significant benefits for women diagnosed with osteoporosis or cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, hormone replacement can have negative effects on health, and can sometimes increase the risk for fibroid growth.
Talk with your doctor or one of our specialists about what will work best for you and your long-term well being.
Fibroids After Menopause: Will They Go Away?
As the most common tumor of the female reproductive tract, fibroids affect more people than you might expect. In fact, approximately 33 percent of women develop them during their childbearing years and 70-80% of women will have developed them by the age of 50.
Because fibroids are noncancerous, many people experience a few problematic symptoms, and some may not know they have fibroids at all.
If you already have fibroids and you’re approaching the stages of perimenopause, you’re probably wondering if you can delay treatment and let them resolve on their own. Although fibroids are not cancerous, they can cause serious complications if left untreated. In some cases, these complications can impact the uterus long term, causing unpleasant symptoms of fibroids after menopause.
If you have uterine fibroids, it’s best to get them treated right away. Thankfully there are treatments available today that don’t require surgery for removal of the fibroids.
Fibroids and Menopause: Do I Have to Get Fibroids Removed?
In the past, the only fibroid treatment available was surgery. This would remove either part or all of a woman’s uterus. This influenced a lot of women to do the “watch and wait” method. It’s important to remember that fibroids will not go away without treatment. When left untreated, they will continue to cause uncomfortable or painful symptoms. Over time, this chronic pain may decrease from fibroids after menopause, but this is not a guarantee.
With the recent development of new technologies, removal of fibroids is unnecessary for symptom relief. Hysterectomy is still the only true cure for fibroids, however it is now only used for very serious, rare cases.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a treatment method that uses x-ray technology to deliver a medical agent to the uterus and fibroids. This blocks the blood flow to the fibroids and eventually causes them to shrink. UFE is done as an outpatient procedure, does not require a long recovery, and allows for preservation of fertility.
Who is Most Likely to Get Fibroids?
As mentioned earlier, the cause of fibroids is very unpredictable. Fibroids affect women of all ages and you may even have symptoms of fibroids after menopause.
Common patterns of fibroid development include being of reproductive age (20-40 years old) being overweight, high blood pressure, family history of fibroids, or being African-American.
There has also been research that shows Vitamin D deficiency is a main factor in the development of uterine fibroids. This is important if you are approaching menopause because the risk for vitamin deficiency increases with age.
If you would like to know more about the relationship between vitamin D and uterine fibroids, check out our blog article : Vitamin D and Fibroids: Does Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Fibroids?
How Does Menopause Change Fibroid Symptoms?
After menopause, fibroids cause similar symptoms to pre-menopausal fibroids. Since women don’t have periods after menopause, they don’t experience the intense menstrual cycles associated with fibroids. However, they can experience intermittent bleeding, cramps, a protruding belly, and frequent urination. If you have post-menopausal fibroids, you could also have symptoms like:
- Inability to empty bladder fully
- Pain during intercourse
- Swelling and fullness in the abdomen
- Lower-back or leg pain
If you notice these symptoms, you could have uterine fibroids. A medical professional can provide the diagnosis and treatment needed to give you relief.
Do I Need a Different Treatment for Post-Menopausal Fibroids?
Many of the treatments for fibroids after menopause resemble the ones used for pre-menopausal women. If you have post-menopausal fibroids, you can also choose a minimally invasive treatment which can shrink your fibroids without surgery.
UFE is a non-surgical procedure that utilizes the arteries, to treat fibroids. Interventional radiologists use advanced technology to cut off blood supply to the fibroids, forcing them to starve and die. One of the benefits UFE is that it does not interfere with hormones like a hysterectomy or hormone therapy.
Women start menopause at different ages; therefore, you will need to consult with a fibroid specialist to determine if UFE is right for you.
Stop Symptoms of Fibroids After Menopause
At USA Fibroid Centers, we offer Uterine Fibroid Embolization at outpatient clinics nationwide. Our team of specialists have decades of combined experience treating women with fibroids through the use of UFE.
To learn more about UFE, simply give us a call or use our online form to schedule an appointment. As America’s #1 fibroid treatment experts, we have dozens of conveniently located offices across the country and accept most major insurance plans.
We look forward to helping you rediscover a life free of painful, uncomfortable, and unpredictable fibroid symptoms.