What are fibroids and should you be concerned?
If you have been diagnosed with a fibroid, you are not alone. They are quite common. Eighty percent of women develop uterine fibroids by the time they reach menopause. Most women develop them in their 40’s & 50’s during perimenopause. Some women develop them in their 20’s & 30’s.
Fibroids are tumors in the muscle layer of the uterus. A diagnosis of any kind can be worrisome, especially one that uses the word tumor but you’ll be happy to hear that they are benign or non-cancerous. Fibroids are also called myomas, fibromyomas, or leiomyomas.
There are several different types of fibroids depending on their location within the uterus.
Intramural fibroids grow within the uterine wall.
Subserosal fibroids grow in the outside layer of the uterine wall.
Submucosal fibroids grow within the uterine cavity.
Pedunculated fibroids grow/hang on stalks either inside (submucosal) or outside (subserosal) the uterus.
Fibroids can range in size from a pea to a melon. You may have more than one fibroid and each can vary in size and location.
While fibroids are benign tumors, they can cause symptoms that make your life difficult. The severity of symptoms depends on how many you have, how big they are, and where they are located in your uterus.
For example, you may not even notice you have a small fibroid. These tend to be asymptomatic and are often found by your gynecologist during your annual routine pelvic exam.
Conversely, large ones are more symptomatic. You may notice some of the following symptoms because their size and/or location are putting pressure on other organs of your body.
Symptoms of Fibroids
- Heavy or prolonged bleeding
- Irregular bleeding
- Pelvic pain
- Protruding belly
- Frequent urination
- Painful sex
What Causes Fibroids?
Technically, the cause is unknown. However, fibroids are often associated with some hormone imbalances, and certain risk factors increase your likelihood of developing them.
Hormone imbalances involve your thyroid hormones, estrogen/progesterone balance (estrogen dominance), cortisol levels, insulin resistance, and low vitamin D levels. The risk factors that increase your risk can all be tied back to these hormones. These include:
- Family history — If your grandmother, mom, aunt, or sister(s) had fibroids, chances are you will too.
- Increased body fat — Fat cells produce estrogen that can tip the estrogen/progesterone balance.
- Increased stress — Stress increases cortisol levels and puts you in survival mode which then pushes your reproductive system to the back burner, so to speak.
- Environmental Toxins — Toxins are endocrine disruptors and mimic estrogen in your body.
- Race/ethnicity – There is no clear reason why certain ethnicities are more susceptible but women of color, particularly black women, represent a disproportionate number of women diagnosed. Black women also experience a larger number of fibroids and more severe symptoms.
What Can You Do?
Medical treatment includes hormone therapy, such as birth control pill or IUD; minimally invasive procedures such as a Uterine Fibroid Embolization; and surgery such as myomectomy or hysterectomy. While these medical treatments can be useful in reducing your symptoms, they do not address the root cause of the hormone imbalance and after a period of time, you may see fibroids develop again.
Holistic treatment includes stress management, blood sugar management, detoxification, and addressing nutrient deficiencies through diet & lifestyle modifications. In fact, there is a lot within your control that can help reduce the growth and size of your fibroids.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a fibroid, I know how you feel and I’d love to help you. I was diagnosed with a fibroid when I was 29. I’d love to offer you a free 15-minute call to discuss what you can do to get your hormones more in balance. Schedule some time here with me today.
Read my fibroid story here.