Fibroids are actually quite common, affecting up to 80% of women by the age of 50.1 According to the Office on Women’s Health, nobody knows for sure what causes fibroids, but research has uncovered a few factors that play a role in whether or not a woman will develop fibroids in her lifetime.1
Hormones: Fibroids can grow or shrink under hormone manipulation or changes. Fibroids tend to grow during pregnancy, when hormone levels are higher, and shrink when anti-hormonal drug therapies are used to lower levels.1 Additionally, fibroids may shrink or stop growing once a woman reaches menopause.1
Genetics: Some research suggests that there is a heredity component to a woman’s risk of developing fibroids.1 If a woman’s mother had fibroids, her risk of also experiencing them is roughly three times higher than someone who does not have fibroids in her family. 2
Race: Black women are also considerably more likely to have fibroids than other racial groups. What’s more, they tend to have fibroids at younger ages and experience larger fibroids that are more likely to be symptomatic.3
Fibroids are typically noncancerous muscular tumors that grow in the muscle walls of the uterus. They can grow as a single mass, or there could be several fibroids in the uterus at once. They also vary in size from as small as an apple seed to as large as a grapefruit.1
In many cases, women will never experience symptoms related to their fibroids, but some women will experience symptoms like:1,3
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Periods lasting longer than a week
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying the bladder
- Backache or leg pain
- Complications during pregnancy and labor
- Reproductive problems, such as infertility
If you suffer from one or more of these symptoms, consider talking with a doctor to discover what the root cause might be, and what your potential treatments are.
- Uterine Fibroid Fact Sheet. Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids. Accessed February 20, 2019.
- Stacey L. Eggert, Karen L. Huyck. Genome-wide Linkage and Association Analyses Implicate FASN in Predisposition to Uterine Leiomyomata. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 2012; 91 (4): 621 DOI:1016/j.ajhg.2012.08.009
- “Uterine Fibroids: Symptoms & Causes.” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/symptoms-causes/syc-20354288. Accessed February 20, 2019.
- “How to Treat Uterine Fibroids Yourself.” Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/fibroids-natural-treatment Accessed February 20, 2019.
- Winchester Hospital (Lahey Health System). Health Library: Vitamin K. http://www.winchesterhospital.org/health-library/article?id=21883. Accessed February 20, 2019.
- “Iron deficiency anemia.” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355034. Accessed February 20, 2019.
- "Uterine Fibroids: Diagnosis & Treatment.” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354294 Accessed February 20, 2019.