Uterine fibroids: Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

What causes uterine fibroids?

It is not scientifically known what causes uterine fibroids. However evidence seems to suggest that several factors play a role in their growth. Some of the suggested factors are:

  • Genetics (e.g., genetic mutations in the MED12, HMGA2, COL4A5/COL4A6, or FHgenes)
  • Estrogen and progesterone
  • Growth hormones
  • Micronutrients, such as iron, that the body needs only small amounts of in the blood.2 For instance, a deficiency of vitamin D may be associated with uterine fibroids.
  • Major stresses

Once the exact cause or causes of fibroids, it is definite that the efforts to find a cure or even prevent fibroids will be more quick and responsive.

What are the risk factors for uterine fibroids?

Fibroids mainly develop in women of childbearing age, and recent studies show that they may shrink after menopause. However, research also shows that they are more likely to shrink in postmenopausal white women than in postmenopausal black women. In African American women, fibroids are more likely to develop at a younger age, grow larger, and cause more severe symptoms. The research that has been carried out in the past has suggested that several factors may affect a woman’s risk for having uterine fibroids, including the following:

  • Age (older women are at higher risk)
  • African American women.
  • Obesity.
  • History of uterine fibroids in the family
  • High blood pressure
  • No history of pregnancy
  • Deficiency of Vitamin D.
  • Food additive consumption over long periods of time.
  • Excessive use of soybean milk

Factors that may lower the risk of fibroids

  • Pregnancy (the risk decreases with an increasing number of pregnancies)
  • Long-term use of oral or injectable contraceptives.

What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?

Many women have no symptoms of fibroids. However, uterine fibroids can result to painful symptoms, such as: Heavy bleeding and or painful periods

  • Anemia due to lack of enough red blood cells.
  • Bleeding in between your periods.
  • Pelvic Pressure causing a feeling of being “full” in the lower abdomen (belly)
  • Frequent urination due to the caused by a fibroid pressing on the bladder)
  • Pain during sex
  • Lower back pain
  • Reproductive problems, such as infertility and early labour during pregnancy
  • Obstetrical problems, such as the increased likelihood of cesarean section

How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?

Unless the symptoms are notable, it is likely that most women may not know whether they have uterine fibroids. In some cases, though, health care providers find fibroids during a routine gynaecological exam.  If you have fibroids, your uterus may feel larger than usual. The size of the fibroids does not definitely relate or equate to the severity of symptoms. Tiny fibroids may cause considerable symptoms and heavy periods.

If you have symptoms but your health care provider cannot feel any fibroids during a manual examination, he or she may use one or more types of imaging technology. Some common types of imaging technology are:

  • Ultrasound.
  • Saline infusion sonography – which is a shot of salt solution into the uterus to help create the ultrasound image
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses magnets and radio waves to create the picture
  • X-rays.
  • Computed tomography (CT) or computer-assisted tomography (also called a CAT scan), which scans the body with X-rays from many angles to create a more complete picture

What are the treatments for uterine fibroids?

There are several options for treating fibroids. Some women choose surgical methods while others prefer natural methods. Read more about the treatment options available and How to Get Rid of Fibroids Naturally in this article.