Possible Symptoms for Fibroids
- Heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Painful menstrual periods.
- Feelings of fullness in the lower stomach area.
- Lower back pain.
- Pain during sexual intercourse.
- Frequent urination.
- Pregnancy complications.
- Problems during labor.
- Reproductive problems.
Top 6 Fibroids Causes
1. Hormonal Imbalances
Imbalances in estrogen, progesterone, and growth hormones have been linked to the development of fibroids. Fibroids normally grow at a rapid rate when estrogen levels are high, such as during pregnancy, and will shrink or stop growing when estrogen levels decline, like during menopause.
Women who have a family history of fibroids are highly likely to develop fibroids themselves. Genetic mutations in the MED12, HMGA2, COL4A5, COL4A6, or FH genes have all been linked to fibroids.
Women who are African-American are more likely to develop fibroids than women with other ethnic backgrounds. African-American women are genetically predisposed to fibroids and are more prone to suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, which is also linked to the development of fibroids.
4. Deficiency in Vitamin D
Vitamin D has the ability to prevent the growth of uterine fibroids, so being deficient in this essential vitamin can increase the likelihood of developing fibroids. Adequate levels of vitamin D help reduce estrogen and progesterone to keep hormones balanced.
Major stress has been linked to a higher incidence of uterine fibroids in women of any race. Loss of employment, illness, divorce, assault, and moving of residence are some factors cited as causes of the high levels of stress associated with fibroids.
High amounts of certain micronutrients can cause fibroids to develop if the body only needs small amounts of those micronutrients in the blood. Vitamin A and vitamin C have both been linked to fibroids when consumed in high amounts, such as through nutritional supplementation.
8 Ways to Prevent Fibroids
1. Manage High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a risk factor for uterine fibroids. If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to lower it. Normal blood pressure is a systolic pressure less than 120 and a diastolic pressure less than 80. Natural ways to manage and improve high blood pressure include exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is a risk factor for fibroids due to the way excess weight can cause hormonal imbalances and high blood pressure. If you are overweight or obese, take steps to lose excess weight and maintain a healthy weight. Eat healthy foods, stay physically active, get plenty of sleep, and manage stress—all of which can help you lose weight when practiced consistently.
3. Get Enough Vitamin D
Women who are deficient in vitamin D are more likely to develop uterine fibroids, but women who get enough of this essential vitamin face a lower risk. Increase your vitamin D intake by getting plenty of sunlight, using vitamin D supplements, or eating foods like salmon, tuna, and eggs. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU per day for women between the ages of 14 and 70, and 800 IU per day for women older than 70.
4. Eat Healthy Foods
Red meats like beef and ham have been linked to fibroids, along with food additives like food coloring, MSG, and sodium nitrite. Stop eating unhealthy foods that contribute to fibroids, weight gain, and high blood pressure, and start eating healthy whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts—all of which offer countless nutritional benefits. Leafy greens and green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, peppers, and Bok choy are shown to protect women against fibroids.
5. Maintain a Healthy Hormonal Balance
Keeping your hormones in check may help reduce your risk for developing fibroids. Take steps to prevent your estrogen levels from rising too high if you’re not pregnant. Lose excess weight, exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, and manage stress to maintain a healthy hormonal balance.
6. Avoid Dairy and Soybean Milks
Women who regularly consume dairy and soybean milk are at higher risk for developing fibroids. Dairy and soy milk is shown to cause fluctuations in hormones like estrogen that contribute to fibroids. Stop drinking dairy and soy milks, and consider switching to coconut or almond milk instead.
7. Reduce and Manage Stress
Chronic stress increases the body’s production of cortisol and causes long-term fluctuations in hormones like estrogen that contribute to fibroids. Find healthy, effective ways to reduce and manage stress, such as meditation, yoga, and exercise.
8. Exercise Regularly
Women who perform vigorous exercise for at least 3 hours per week can significantly decrease their risk of developing fibroids. Examples of vigorous physical activity include jogging, running, shoveling snow, carrying heavy loads upstairs, or participating in strenuous fitness classes like a spin class. Make time in your daily schedule for exercise and slowly work your way toward vigorous physical exercise if you’re at a beginner’s fitness level.
Possible Fibroids Treatment Options
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- Birth control pills
- Iron supplements
- Tranexamic acid
- Pain reliever medicines
- Hormone shots
- Endometrial ablation
- Uterine artery embolization
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Fibroids Treatment
- When did you first start experiencing symptoms?
- Have your menstrual periods been heavier than usual?
- Are your menstrual periods painful?
- How often do you urinate?
- Are you having problems trying to conceive?
- Are you pregnant?
- Do you have any known hormonal medical conditions like PCOS or endometriosis?
- Do fibroids run in your family?
- What types of foods do you eat?
- Do you consume dairy or soy milk?
- Have you recently experienced a major stressful event?
- Do you use nutritional supplements, and if so, which ones and how often?
- Do you have a history of high blood pressure?
Fibroids May Also be Known as
- Uterine fibroids
- Uterine myoma
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- Office on Women’s Health. Uterine fibroids. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/uterine/conditioninfo/symptoms
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What causes uterine fibroids? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/uterine/conditioninfo/causes
- National Library of Medicine. The Burden of Uterine Fibroids for African-American Women: Results of a National Survey. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3787340/
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Vitamin D shrinks fibroid tumors in rats. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/newsroom/releases/030112-vitaminD-fibroids
- National Library of Medicine. Vitamin D association with estradiol and progesterone in young women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19916051
- National Library of Medicine. The Association between Self-Reported Major Life Events and the Presence of Uterine Fibroids. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2906657/
- National Library of Medicine. Serum micronutrient concentrations and risk of uterine fibroids. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21671776
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What are the risk factors of uterine fibroids? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/uterine/conditioninfo/people-affected
- Medline Plus. How to Prevent High Blood Pressure. https://medlineplus.gov/howtopreventhighbloodpressure.html
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin D. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
- National Library of Medicine. A Prospective Study of Dairy Intake and Risk of Uterine Leiomyomata. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2800240/
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. What’s Going On With the Uterine Fibroid Study? https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/assets/docs/k_p/october_2004_508.pdf
- Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf
- Medline Plus. Uterine fibroids. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000914.htm