Uterine Fibroid Causes in Women

Fibroids are tumors that develop on the smooth muscle of the uterus. They’re very common among women of childbearing age, especially those over 35.

Uterine fibroid tumors can cause painful cramps, heavy bleeding, iron-deficiency anemia, and issues with bloating, constipation, or incontinence. They can also impact your fertility. 

Knowing the possible causes of uterine fibroids can help you take control of your reproductive health. At USA Fibroid Centers, our doctors specialize in treating fibroids using a non-surgical procedure. We use advanced ultrasound imaging to check for fibroids and provide comprehensive care in our outpatient treatment centers. 

What Causes Fibroids?

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes fibroids, however, research does show a connection between genetics, hormones, and fibroid development, making these factors possible causes of fibroids in the uterus

There are also other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing fibroids, including a vitamin D deficiency and being overweight. 

Here’s an overview of the possible causes of uterine fibroids and how they might play a role in fibroid growth. 

Family History/Genetics

Genetics is one possible cause of fibroids. One study shows that a strong family history — having a mother or sister with fibroids — increases the risk of developing uterine fibroids by 20% for African-American women and 30% for white women. 

High Estrogen Levels

An imbalance of estrogen and progesterone may play a role in fibroid growth. 

Uterine fibroids are considered to be estrogen-dependent, and higher levels of this hormone cause fibroids to grow. Progesterone, on the other hand, can deter their growth. So, if your progesterone levels are low, this hormone can’t moderate the growth-stimulating effects of estrogen. 

Estrogen and progesterone levels change naturally during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and before menopause.  These hormonal fluctuations can impact your chances of developing fibroids. Here’s how:

  • Women who start their period at a younger age are more at risk for fibroids because they’re exposed to estrogen for longer.
  • Estrogen increases during pregnancy, which may be why fibroids sometimes grow rapidly during this time. 
  • Estrogen levels start to decrease in the years leading up to menopause — known as perimenopause. This decrease might cause fibroids to shrink, leading to less noticeable symptoms. However, some women don’t experience a decrease in symptoms, even after menopause. 

Insulin-Like Growth Factor

Estrogen and progesterone aren’t the only hormones that could cause fibroids. 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 also believed to contribute to fibroid growth.

Connect With Fibroid Specialists Near You

Where do you need a fibroid specialist?


Extracellular Matrix (ECM) Effect on Fibroid Growth

Uterine fibroids have been linked to increased extracellular matrix (ECM) production. 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.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Doctors believe that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to the growth of fibroids. While information is limited to the relationship between the vitamin and fibroids, studies have shown that vitamin D3 can help reduce tumor growth. 

Being Overweight

Women who are overweight are more at risk for developing fibroids. Weight gain may be a contributing factor to uterine fibroids because fat cells produce more estrogen. The increase in estrogen can then cause fibroid growth. 

Birth Control Pills

You may have heard that birth control pills cause fibroids to grow. Because oral contraceptives impact your hormone levels, they may increase or decrease your risk of fibroids. However, what impact they have is not clear. 

Some research indicates that taking birth control pills isn’t a cause of fibroids, but rather, it can have a protective effect. On the other hand, because oral contraceptives contain synthetic versions of estrogen and progesterone, it’s possible they stimulate growth, and there is research to support this idea. One study found that women who take the pill are more likely to have fibroids. 

Without more research, it’s unclear at this point if taking the pill causes uterine fibroids or not. As such, it’s best to talk to your doctor about what’s right for you. 

Take Our Symptom Quiz

How to Prevent Fibroids?

Fibroids aren’t preventable. However, there are steps you can take to manage your symptoms and potentially slow fibroid growth. 

Getting regular exercise and eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help you maintain a healthy weight, which can lower your risk for fibroids. 

Likewise, making sure you’re getting enough vitamin D may help. You can raise your vitamin D levels by getting sunlight — being in the sun for between 5 to 30 minutes a day, on most days, is ideal. Adding vitamin D-rich foods to your diet can also help. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, eggs, and fortified milk all contain vitamin D. 

Staying hydrated can prevent dehydration, which can make your fibroid symptoms worse.

Healthy lifestyle habits can support your overall wellness and may help with symptoms. However, fibroids won’t go away on their own. If you have fibroid symptoms, it’s important to see a specialist so you can get the care you need.

Treating Uterine Fibroids

Understanding what causes fibroids can help you make informed decisions about your health. If you fall into a higher-risk group or have symptoms that might be fibroids, schedule a consultation with a fibroid specialist near you. Common symptoms include:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue

The good news is that fibroids are treatable. And, with advanced outpatient fibroid treatment, you can get relief without surgery, a hospital stay, or a long recovery time. 

At USA Fibroid Centers, we treat fibroids with a minimally-invasive procedure called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). UFE is an outpatient procedure that takes about 30 minutes. Our doctors specialize in treating fibroids with UFE, and our AAAHC-accredited treatment centers have a 99% success rate. 

If you’re concerned about uterine fibroids, schedule an appointment at a nearby fibroid center today. 

Schedule Consultation

Additional FAQs

What is the main cause of fibroids?

There is no single known cause of uterine fibroids. However, there are many known risk factors. Women of reproductive age are the most likely to experience uterine fibroids. However, Black women are disproportionately affected by this condition and may need frequent checkups to help manage their symptoms. Other risk factors include vitamin D deficiency, hormone fluctuations, pregnancy, hormonal birth control, insulin-like growth factor, increased extracellular matrix production, and heredity.

Who is more likely to get fibroids?

Out of all women of reproductive age, Black women are the most likely to develop uterine fibroids. In addition, Black women tend to experience more painful and disruptive symptoms than their white counterparts. Little research has been done to determine the risk of fibroids in other racial and ethnic populations, although some studies suggest that Latina and Hispanic women have an elevated risk of fibroids compared to white women.

Do foods cause fibroids?

There’s no known food that directly causes fibroids. However, researchers have found some food-related risk factors. For example, a diet low in vitamin D may contribute to fibroids. Not consuming enough vegetables and fruits may also play a role. Finally, some foods that contain pollutants may increase the risk of developing fibroids.

What hormones cause fibroids?

The exact cause of fibroids is unknown. Research suggests that the female hormones estrogen and progesterone cause fibroids to grow.5 Insulin-like growth factor, a growth hormone, may also play a role.

Can hormonal imbalance cause fibroids?

Hormone imbalance is linked to fibroid growth, but exact fibroid causes aren’t well-known. If you are a woman of reproductive age, you are more likely to experience uterine fibroids and may need to undergo routine screenings to help manage your risk.

Are fibroids hereditary?

Heredity can affect your fibroid risk. If the women in your family have uterine fibroids, you are more likely to develop them too. As you move through your reproductive years, ask your mother, aunts, grandmothers, or sisters whether they have experienced fibroids. If they have, it’s a good sign you may also be at risk and would benefit from a screening.

Schedule a Consultation Online


  1. “Uterine fibroids: When is treatment with hormones considered?” Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. U.S. National Library of Medicine, March 24, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279532/.
  2. Tinelli, Andrea, Marina Vinciguerra, Antonio Malvasi, Mladen Andjić, Ivana Babović, and Radmila Sparić. “Uterine Fibroids and Diet.” International journal of environmental research and public health. U.S. National Library of Medicine, January 25, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7908561/
  3. Mostafavi, Beata. “Understanding Racial Disparities for Women with Uterine Fibroids.” University of Michigan, August 12, 2020. https://labblog.uofmhealth.org/rounds/understanding-racial-disparities-for-women-uterine-fibroids.
  4. Catherino, William H, Heba M Eltoukhi, and Ayman Al-Hendy. “Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Pathogenesis and Clinical Manifestations of Uterine Leiomyoma.” Seminars in reproductive medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, September 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4170830/
  5. “Fibroids.” ucsfhealth.org. Accessed December 6, 2022. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/fibroids.
  6. Northwell Health. “Expert Insights.” 11 unexpected signs of hormonal imbalance | Northwell Health, November 27, 2018. https://www.northwell.edu/obstetrics-and-gynecology/fertility/expert-insights/11-unexpected-signs-of-hormonal-imbalance.

Don’t Suffer Another Day

Life with fibroids can be painful and challenging. Timely detection and treatment of fibroids can relieve symptoms, as well as reduce your risk for hysterectomy.

855.615.2555 Schedule Online