Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas or myomas, are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. Fibroids range in size from seedlings, undetectable by the human eye, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. They can be single or multiple, and in extreme cases, can expand the uterus so much that it reaches the rib cage. Many women have uterine fibroids sometime during their lives, but they might not know they have them because they often cause no symptoms.
1. Age: Fibroids become more common as women age, especially during the 30s and 40s through menopause.
2. Family History: If your mother, sister, or grandmother has a history of this condition, you may develop it as well.
3. Ethnic Origin: African-American women are more likely to develop fibroids than white women.
4. Obesity: Women who are overweight are at higher risk for fibroids.
5. Early Menstruation: Women who began menstruating at an early age are at increased risk.
6. Diet: Consumption of a lot of red meat and ham is associated with a higher risk of fibroids.
Prevention methods for fibroids are not well defined due to the lack of
understanding of their cause. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight can contribute to overall health and might decrease the risk of fibroids. Regular check-ups with a gynecologist can help detect any abnormal changes early.
Myths, Misconceptions, and Facts
Myth: Fibroids can always cause symptoms.
Fact: Many women who have fibroids don’t have any symptoms.
Myth: Fibroids can lead to cancer.
Fact: Fibroids are almost always benign, not cancerous, and having fibroids does not increase the risk of developing a cancerous fibroid or of getting other forms of cancer in the uterus.
Myth: Fibroids can only be treated with surgery.
Fact: There are numerous treatment options available, ranging from watchful waiting for minimal fibroid symptoms to medications and different types of surgeries.
Myth: You can’t get pregnant if you have fibroids.
Fact: Many women with fibroids can get pregnant naturally. For those who struggle, fertility treatments can often help.
Myth: A hysterectomy is the only way to fully get rid of fibroids.
Fact: There are alternatives to a hysterectomy, including medications, hormonal therapies, and less invasive surgical procedures.