Uterine fibroids affect 70 to 80 percent of women by age fifty. If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids, you may be wondering what causes them and what treatment options you have.

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths on or in the uterus that can lead to symptoms such as heavy periods, frequent urination, and low energy levels. For some women, these effects can become so unbearable that they can adversely impact career prospects, social interactions, and selfesteem.

The fibroid specialists at USA Fibroid Centers can help you learn more about what causes fibroids to grow. As skilled interventional radiologists, our fibroid specialists offer expert diagnosis and non-surgical treatment for all uterine fibroids.

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What Causes Fibroids? 

The cause of fibroids is unknown to medical professionals, although female reproductive age is a primary risk factor. This is likely because progesterone and estrogen, two hormones that help grow the uterine lining each menstrual period, are thought to play a role in the development of fibroids.1 In addition, some studies suggest that lifestyle choices, such as not eating enough vegetables and fruits, may contribute to fibroid causes.2 

When it comes to understanding uterine fibroid causes and risk factors, it’s important to note that women of African-American descent are three times more likely to struggle with fibroids than their peers, and their symptoms are often worse.3 Other risk factors include heredity, hormone fluctuations, pregnancy, birth control use, insulin-like growth factor (IGF), increased extracellular matrix (ECM) production, and vitamin D deficiency.

HEREDITY AND GENETICS

The cause of fibroids may be linked to heredity. If you have a close family member with fibroids, you are more likely to develop them. We recommend discussing your family medical history with a fibroid specialist and scheduling regular appointments for close monitoring. Early intervention often leads to the best health outcomes.

Researchers are still studying how genetics influence the growth of fibroids. Understanding how genetic mutations or fibroid stem cells affect fibroid growth has the potential to allow doctors to control current tumors and prevent new ones from occurring in the future. However, at the moment, prevention methods such as early detection, understanding heredity and risk factors, and non-invasive treatment are considered the best standard of care.

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 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. When hormone production declines after menopause or pregnancy, for example, fibroids tend to shrink.

FIBROIDS AND PREGNANCY

Pregnancy can cause fibroids to grow due to increased hormone levels. As fibroids get larger, they may lead to complications with the pregnancy, such as heavy bleeding and painful cramps. Fibroids can also take up the space needed by the baby and complicate delivery. If you have fibroids while pregnant, you’ll want to have your doctor monitor them 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 FACTOR

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. 

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. 

Proper nutrition is a critical element of a healthy lifestyle. Eating a well-balanced diet, including getting enough micronutrients, can help prevent weight gain and improve your energy levels even if you suffer from fibroids.

How to Prevent Fibroids?

While we may not know the exact causes of fibroids, we do know uterine fibroids can’t be prevented. You may be able to help manage your risk with a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and proper hydration. While developing a healthier lifestyle, you may notice fewer symptoms or reduced severity. 

Vitamin D supplements may also help reduce the growth of fibroids, and eating fiber can help prevent constipation, which is a symptom of the condition.

What Symptoms Should I Be Aware of Regarding Fibroids?

While many fibroids don’t have accompanying symptoms, you may experience specific 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 or prolonged periods
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in the pelvic area or lower back
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Stomach swelling
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Constipation or bloating

If you experience any of the symptoms related to fibroids, USA Fibroid Centers offers compassionate and specialized care that may provide relief.

Contact USA Fibroid Centers Today!

Now that you have a better understanding of the causes of uterine fibroids, you may wonder what to do about them. Our fibroid specialists are available to answer any additional questions you have. Instead of rushing to suggest a major procedure, such as a hysterectomy, we can help you determine if a minimally invasive treatment like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) presents a better option.

This non-surgical fibroid treatment can reduce or eliminate your symptoms and get you back to normal activities quickly. UFE is a short procedure performed in our state-of-the-art outpatient centers. You won’t need to stay in a hospital, undergo general anesthesia, or receive stitches. Plus, recovery time lasts just one to two weeks. To learn more, schedule an appointment online today. You can opt for an in-office or virtual visit. No matter how you connect with us, we are confident that we can help improve your overall quality of life.

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Sources: 

  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.

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