What Are Fibroids? What Every Woman Needs to Know
Posted byChristine Yu
Fibroids. Maybe your friend or coworker has mentioned them. Maybe a family member has complained about them. But just what are fibroids, exactly?
If you’re not sure, don’t fret. Fibroids aren’t a frequent topic of conversation and you may not have learned about them in health class. Yet, up to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids by the time they reach age 50, calculates the Office on Women’s Health.1
Here’s what you need to know about this common health condition.
What Are Fibroids?
Fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are non-cancerous benign tumors that grow in the muscular wall of the uterus. They can be small (like the size of a seed) or large (like the size of a grapefruit), notes Medical News Today.2
Doctors aren’t sure why they form, but they are often found in women of reproductive age. You can have one or multiple fibroids present. On average, there may be six to seven fibroids present. However, many women don’t even know they have these growths in their uterus. In fact, most women don’t experience symptoms, according to Brigham and Women’s Center for Uterine Fibroids.3
Who Is at Risk for Fibroids?
While fibroids are most common in women in their 30s, 40s and through menopause, African-American women are more likely to develop the condition as are women who are overweight or obese. You’re also three times more likely to have fibroids if your mother had them too. However, those who maintain a healthy diet and regularly eat fruits and vegetables may have a decreased risk for developing these growths, per the Office on Women’s Health.4
What Are the Symptoms of Fibroids?
According to the Center for Uterine Fibroids, only 25 percent of women experience symptoms associated with fibroids. For those who do experience symptoms, fibroids can be a literal pain in the belly. You may feel fullness or pressure in the pelvic region, depending on the size of the fibroid or fibroids. Your lower abdomen may even look enlarged or distended, especially if larger fibroids are present.5
Abnormal uterine bleeding may occur too. From periods lasting longer than seven days to a heavy menstrual flow, this can lead to anemia in some women. Other women experience lower back pain, pain with sex or a frequent urge to pee, says the Center for Uterine Fibroids.5
If you’re thinking of having children, it’s important to consult your doctor. While most women with fibroids are able to get pregnant, fibroids may cause some complications with fertility, pregnancy, labor and delivery, such as a greater risk for C-section, breech birth, placental abruption, and preterm delivery, notes the Office on Women’s Health.6
Your doctor can diagnose fibroids during your annual exam. They can order tests, such as an ultrasound or MRI, to confirm the presence of fibroids and discuss treatment options. If you experience heavy bleeding, discomfort or think something is amiss, don’t wait until your next routine checkup. Visit your doctor right away.
July is Fibroid Awareness Month! Join us in spreading the word by using #WhyIWearWhite to show your support!
1Uterine Fibroids, Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Uterine Fibroids,” https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids. Accessed April 2, 2017.
2Christian Nordqvist, Fibroids: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. Medical News Today. August 3, 2016. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/151405.php. Accessed April 2, 2017.
3Center for Uterine Fibroids, About Uterine Fibroids, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. About Uterine Fibroids. http://www.fibroids.net/fibroids.html. Accessed April 2, 2017.
4Uterine Fibroids, Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Uterine Fibroids,” https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids. Accessed April 2, 2017.
5Center for Uterine Fibroids, About Uterine Fibroids, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. About Uterine Fibroids. http://www.fibroids.net/fibroids.html. Accessed April 2, 2017.
6Uterine Fibroids, Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Uterine Fibroids,” https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids. Accessed April 2, 2017.
- Posted by Christine Yu
- On June 21, 2017