You can still suffer from fibroids after menopause, even though it’s an uncommon situation. Of course, most women will develop uterine fibroids at some time in their lives; they’re very common, noncancerous tumors. And, some will never know that they have fibroids, because they don’t develop symptoms such as bloating or heavy periods. Still, even without symptoms, those fibroids can cause problems. And, contrary to popular belief, the growths don’t always resolve after menopause. But what exactly is menopause? And how does it affect your fibroids? Let’s dive in to find out.
Menopause: It Happens in Stages
Menopause doesn’t happen all at once. Instead, it comes on slowly, over the course of months or even years. At first, you’ll experience perimenopause, a period in which your ovaries’ hormone production lessens. Typically starting in your 40s, your periods may be unreliable during this time. Even so, pregnancy is still possible, since you still produce hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. And, since both those hormones can impact fibroid growth, you may still be bothered by fibroid symptoms during this time period.
Perimenopause could end quickly, but it could also take years. Now, during this stage, fibroids may shrink due to reduced hormone production. Symptoms could also lessen. Yet not every woman will find relief by entering perimenopause. Or by the next stage, menopause.
You see, we say you’ve officially entered menopause when you’ve gone 12 months in a row without menstruating. At that point, you’re officially post-menopausal. But, while you can say goodbye to heavy periods at this point, other fibroid symptoms might not go away without treatment.
Fibroids and Menopause: What to Expect
As we suggested earlier, the drop in your body’s hormonal levels during menopause could shrink your fibroids naturally. Also, new fibroids don’t usually develop at this stage of your life. Still, we can’t guarantee that menopause will cure your fibroids, so you may still be at risk, even after you no longer get monthly periods. And that’s especially true if you had a higher risk for developing fibroids in the first place.
Fibroid Risk Factors
While we don’t know exactly what causes fibroids to form, we can link certain factors to fibroid risk, including:
- High blood pressure
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Family history
- High levels of stress
- Having never been pregnant
- Being of African-American or Asian ethnicity
- Passing 40 years of age
Fibroids After Menopause: Treatment Options
Clearly, menopause often resolves symptoms of fibroids, but that’s not always the case. And even when it does, starting hormone replacement therapy after menopause can trigger fibroid growth (and symptoms) all over again. As such, you may still need to explore your fibroid treatment options. These include:
- Oral birth control
- UFE (Uterine Fibroid Embolization)
Women of all ages can choose between these treatment options. Yet, while many younger women avoid hysterectomy, post-menopausal women may think this is the best treatment option, since having children is no longer an option. While this is true, avoiding hysterectomy may be a wise choice for women of all ages.
Even better? A recent observational study revealed that UFE is a viable fibroid treatment option for women who have experienced menopause. In fact, the majority of women who chose UFE for post-menopausal fibroids experienced a reduction in fibroid size, as well as symptom relief, prompting almost all study participants to recommend this treatment option to others.
You see, even if you’ve stopped menstruation, recovering from a major surgery like a hysterectomy is no easy feat. It will require a hospital stay and a lengthy recovery, and could trigger many other health complications. Want to get rid of fibroids after menopause without removing your uterus? We invite you to schedule an appointment with one of our Dallas area fibroid specialists. Together, we can help you reach a fibroid treatment decision that factors in your age, your current state of health and your eligibility for all potential treatments