If you have uterine fibroids, you may be wondering what causes them to develop and grow over time. After all, fibroids are extremely common, affecting 70 to 80 percent of women by age 50. These non-cancerous tumors appear in or on the uterus and can cause a range of symptoms that include heavy periods, severe menstrual bleeding, frequent urination, and low energy levels. For some, the effects of fibroids can be painful and debilitating, impacting career, social relationships, and self-esteem. So, why do women get fibroids?
What Causes Fibroids?
Many experts believe that lifestyle choices can influence the development and growth of fibroids. Related lifestyle factors include frequently eating red meat, not getting enough fruits or vegetables, regularly drinking alcohol or caffeine, and not drinking enough water. Studies have also suggested that obesity, high blood pressure, Vitamin D deficiency, and beginning menstruation at an early age may contribute to fibroid growth.
When it comes to other uterine fibroid risk factors, you should be aware that both age and race are involved. Women of childbearing age are more likely to develop fibroids; women of African-American descent are also disproportionately affected.
Causes of Uterine Fibroids
Genetic sequencing has suggested changes within fibroids that are different from normal uterine muscle cells. Also, researchers have discovered that more than 70% of uterine fibroids possess a single stem cell mutation of the gene MED12.
If you have a close family member with fibroids, you are more likely to develop them. We recommend bringing up your family medical history with a fibroid doctor and visiting them regularly for close monitoring. Generally speaking, early intervention often leads to the best health outcomes.
Hormonal Causes of Fibroids
Hormones that stimulate the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle, such as estrogen and progesterone, are believed to play a major role in fibroid development. Scientists have discovered that fibroids possess more estrogen and progesterone receptors than normal uterine muscle. However, more research is needed to better understand this relationship.
We do know that at times when hormone production increases, such as during the childbearing years, fibroids tend to grow. Inversely, when hormone production declines –– for example, after menopause or pregnancy –– fibroids tend to shrink.
Other Fibroid Growth Factors
An important growth hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF) is found naturally in your body. IGF is known to stimulate the growth of many types of cells and is believed to also impact fibroid growth.
Extracellular Matrix (ECM) Effect on Fibroid Growth
Uterine fibroids have been linked to an increased production of Extracellular Matrix (ECM). ECM is a substance that causes cells to stick together and gives fibroids their fibrous consistency. It is also involved with storing growth factors and causing changes within cells.
Contact USA Fibroid Centers Today!
Now that you have a better understanding of why you get fibroids, you may be wondering what to do about them. First of all, please know that our fibroid specialists are available to answer any additional questions you have on what causes uterine fibroids. Perhaps more importantly, we can help you explore all of your available treatment options.
At USA Fibroid Centers, we offer a minimally-invasive, non-surgical fibroid treatment called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UFE can eliminate your symptoms and quickly get you back to normal activities. To learn more, simply request an appointment today. You can opt for an in-office or virtual visit. Whichever way you connect with us, we are confident that we can help improve your overall quality of life.