Not every woman with fibroids needs surgery or prescription medications. Those non-cancerous tumors known as fibroids can be asymptomatic or can compromise a woman’s quality of life. If you are among the latter, there are 5 little habits to manage your fibroid pain.
If you are diagnosed with uterine fibroids, you have multiple treatment options, and a hysterectomy does not necessarily be the first one to consider.
Fibroids affect women mostly during their thirties and forties, and yes, unfortunately, fibroids can cause weight gain. One might call it a “double whammy” for women.
Defining A Fibroid
Women who haven’t experienced any symptoms of a fibroid may not know what they are, so a brief definition may be in order. A fibroid is a benign tumor usually found in the tissue of the uterus. They may be so small that they can only be detected by an examination, and can remain painless. There are also larger ones, but in all cases, they are not cancerous.
Pregnancy and hormone swings during menstrual cycles produce a surge in estrogen, feeding the fibroid and causing it to grow. Women taking postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, along with African American women are also at higher risk to develop fibroids.
Main Symptoms Of Fibroids
If you have not been diagnosed with fibroids, be aware of the following common symptoms.
If you experience frequent pelvic pain, feel the urge to urinate more often, are constipated or are bothered by backache and leg pain, it’s possibly the result of fibroids. Long menstrual bleeding and pain can be another sign, as well as painful intercourse.
Weight Gain And Bloating
Fibroids cause weight gain and bloating due to a hormonal imbalance or the size of the fibroid. Larger fibroids may cause a woman to gain weight in the abdomen.
Simply put, the more a fibroid grows, the heavier it will become. Consequently, weight gain and discomfort will follow as some fibroids weigh as much as 20-40 pounds. This swelling and bloating can even make a woman look pregnant.
The Weight Gain and Fibroid Cycle
A woman with fibroids may have long menstrual cycles with excessive bleeding. Losing an inordinate amount of blood can trigger anemia, resulting in fatigue from iron deficiency.
The excess weight, combined with anxiety, discomfort, and fatigue may cause a woman to begin a cycle of:
- Overeating and craving foods with higher calorie content
- Reducing the amount of exercise she normally performs
- This combination can turn into even more pounds without the woman even realizing what is happening.
If you are experiencing unexpected weight gain, maybe it is due to fibroids. Consider whether you have any of the normal symptoms of fibroids, and then evaluate if you have changed what you eat or how much, and if you are being consistent with your exercise routine.
If you discover your weight gain is unexpected and unexplained, maybe it’s time to consult with your doctor.
Some studies show that up to 80% of women will develop uterine fibroids, benign tumors in the uterus that can cause a wide range of symptoms, at some point in their life.
Common Causes of Uterine Fibroids
If the majority of women will develop fibroids, it’s reasonable to wonder what causes them and if you are susceptible to developing fibroids without knowing it.
Recent studies have shown that these factors can have an influence:
- Age. Most women who have fibroids are diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 55, but women can experience symptoms from fibroids before the age of 35.
- Race. Not only are African American women more likely to develop fibroids compared to other races, they also tend to develop fibroids at a younger age and have large, more symptomatic fibroids.
- Family history. Developing fibroids is genetic, so you’re at an increased risk if fibroids run in your family, especially if your mother or sister had fibroids.
- Lifestyle and environmental factors. Although there isn’t definitive evidence, having a balanced diet, limiting alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy weight have all shown to reduce the risk of developing fibroids.
Unfortunately, it is still unclear exactly what causes fibroid tumors to develop. Each woman may have a very different experience with fibroids – the tumors can grow at a different pace, the number of fibroid tumors can vary, and the location of the fibroids can be different from person to person.
What Causes Fibroids to Grow?
Fluctuating hormone levels, specifically estrogen and progesterone, can cause changes in the size of fibroids. Symptoms caused by fibroids usually worsen during each menstrual cycle for this reason.
Women with fibroids that do not cause symptoms may not require treatment and can have hope that fibroids typically shrink during menopause because of the drop in estrogen.
Can Fibroids be Prevented?
Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there is no evidence that shows ways to prevent uterine fibroids from growing. The most important thing to keep in mind if you have been diagnosed with fibroids and are experiencing symptoms, is that there are many options available for treatment.
Schedule an appointment to learn more about uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a non-surgical fibroid treatment option.