If you have uterine fibroids, you may be wondering what causes fibroids to develop and grow over time. 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 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, what are the causes of 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.
Common Causes of Uterine Fibroids
While the exact causes of fibroids aren’t known, certain factors may increase a woman’s risk of developing the condition. Some of these factors include:
- Family History
Age and Fibroids
Age is a key factor for developing fibroids because they occur between puberty and menopause. Doctors believe it is due to the increase of hormones that begins at puberty and continues until they begin to drop near the onset of menopause.
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.
The cause of fibroids can be linked to genetics. 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.
When it comes to other uterine fibroid risk factors, you should know 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.
Hormonal Causes of Fibroids
Hormones that stimulate the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle, such as estrogen and progesterone, are believed to play a significant 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 understand this relationship better.
We know that 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.
Fibroids and Pregnancy
Pregnancy can cause fibroids to grow since hormones increase during this time. As the fibroids get larger, they may lead to complications with the pregnancy, such as heavy bleeding and painful cramps. They can also take up the space needed by the baby and complicate delivery. If you have fibroids will pregnant, your doctor will want to monitor you closely.
Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are often prescribed to help women deal with severe symptoms of their periods, such as painful cramps and heavy bleeding. Since these pills contain hormones, they can also lead to the growth of fibroids.
Insulin-Like 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 also believed to impact fibroid growth.
Extracellular Matrix (ECM) Effect on Fibroid Growth
Uterine fibroids have been linked to increased Extracellular Matrix production (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.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Doctors believe that 1.Vitamin D deficiency may be another cause of fibroids, contributing to the growth of fibroids. While information is limited on the relationship between the vitamin and fibroids, studies have shown that Vitamin D3 can help reduce tumor growth.
Proper nutrition is critical to helping you stay healthy, including getting enough micronutrients in your diet. Eating a well-balanced diet can help prevent weight gain and improve your energy levels even if you suffer from fibroids.
How to Prevent Fibroids?
While fibroids can’t be prevented, they can be managed. As you develop a healthy lifestyle, you may notice fewer symptoms or reduced severity. Maintain a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, and stay hydrated to help you feel better, even if they don’t prevent fibroids.
Vitamin D supplements may also help reduce the growth of fibroids, while heating fiber can help prevent constipation, which is one of the symptoms of the condition.
Fibroid Symptoms to Watch Out for
While many fibroids don’t have accompanying symptoms, you may experience certain issues as they grow. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of fibroids, so you can get the help you need to enjoy a healthy life. Some of the symptoms you may experience include:
- Heavy periods or prolonged periods
- Frequent urination
- Pain in the pelvic area or lower back
- Abdominal cramping
- Stomach swelling
- Pain during intercourse
- Constipation or bloating
If you experience these symptoms, know that USA Fibroid Centers can help you find relief.
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.