The word tumor is not something anyone wants to hear when discussing their body. But in some circumstances, it’s not all bad. This is the case with most fibroids. According to Dr. Steven McCarus, “Uterine fibroids are benign tumors of the uterus, they are growths driven by ovarian production of estrogen and progesterone.” Benign, or noncancerous, fibroids aren’t generally associated with uterine cancer.
If uterine fibroids appear in your future or if you have recently been diagnosed, rest assured knowing these five lesser known facts about fibroids:
1. Uterine Fibroids Are Common
In reproductive-aged women, which Dr. McCarus considers ages 20 to 50, fibroids are common. In fact, one third of all women in this group will have these benign growths
2. They’re Not Preventable, But There Are Risk Factors
If your doctor diagnosed you with uterine fibroids, it’s important to know there was nothing you could do to prevent them
Risk factors, however, include obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Women who have not been pregnant and women who begin menstruating early on in their life are also at a higher risk for developing fibroids.
According to Dr. McCarus, African American women are also at greater risk for development.
3. There is No Genetic Predisposition
There’s no way to determine if you’re a candidate for these common uterine fibroids, says Dr. McCarus. So if your mother or grandmother had them, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will too.
4. Anemia is Related to Uterine Fibroids
Often, patients with uterine fibroids experience extreme fatigue caused by anemia. Because these growths are commonly linked to heavy bleeding, anemia can develop and make you very tired. “Patients usually seek help when they start to feel the effects of the anemia, to the point where they can’t continue normal activities,” says Dr. McCarus.
The fatigue is generally accompanied by other symptoms like abnormal bleeding, weight gain, discomfort and abdominal pressure.
5. Not All Cases Require Treatment
If 30% of women develop uterine fibroids, Dr. McCarus tells us, “Only 80% of that group will experience symptoms. That means 20% may not ever know they have them.” So while learning you may have developed these tumors can be overwhelming, they may never require treatment.
It can be difficult for a woman to know when she is experiencing pain or discomfort related to menstruation, versus when it could be something more, like fibroids. Always talk to your gynecologist about any abnormalities in your health, especially if you find yourself reaching for the coffee even more often than usual.
Learn more about women’s specialty care and find an AdventHealth for Women specialist who can help.