Who's at Risk for Fibroids?

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Uterine fibroids may affect up to 80% of women, so just being a female is a risk factor for these benign growths. Here, we explore some more factors that may make you more susceptible to fibroids.

If you consider that up to 80% of women of reproductive age have uterine fibroids, we discover the first factor that can place you more at risk for this mostly benign condition — your gender.

Outside of gender, plenty of other factors place you more at risk for uterine fibroids. To give you an idea, the team here at Bay Area Physicians for Women’s Health wants to explore some of these factors below.

Fibroids at a glance

Before we dive into the risk factors for uterine fibroids, we want to take a moment to quickly review this common gynecologic condition.

Fibroids are mostly benign growths that develop inside or on the walls of your uterus. These growths can range considerably in size — from a grain of sand on up to a growth the size of a grapefruit or larger. Fibroids can be a singular growth or a cluster.

In most cases, women are unaware of fibroids as they don’t cause any outward signs. If, however, the growths become large or numerous enough, or they’re located in a problematic area of the uterus, they can lead to symptoms, such as:

  • Pelvic pain or pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Spotting in between periods
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Pregnancy issues

Now that we have a basic understanding of fibroids, let’s take a look at why some women are more vulnerable to them.

Common risk factors for fibroids

As we mentioned, being a female between the ages of 15 and 44 is the most influential risk factor for uterine fibroids. Getting more specific, fibroids tend to develop in women in their 30s and 40s and, in many cases, the growths shrink after women transition through menopause. This is because fibroids respond to hormone levels — they grow when levels are high, such as in pregnancy, and then shrink when levels drop.

Outside of gender and reproductive hormones, other risk factors for fibroids include:

  • Race — African American women are more susceptible
  • Obesity and high body mass index
  • Genetics
  • Starting your menstrual cycles at a younger age
  • Never having had children

As you can see, there are not many factors on this list over which you have any control. As a result, there isn’t much you can do, outside of controlling your weight, to prevent fibroids from developing.

So, if you have fibroids that become problematic, we can do our part to manage the issue. We often start with hormone medications, which can work well in shrinking the growths. 

This treatment, however, isn’t a great solution if you want to get pregnant or if you have large fibroids. In these cases, we can remove the fibroids with a minimally invasive procedure called a myomectomy.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves in terms of treatments, it’s important to come see us for a proper diagnosis first. To get started, please contact our office in Mobile, Alabama, to set up an appointment.