If you have a family history of uterine growths, you may be concerned about risk factors for fibroids. Wondering if you’re more likely to develop these benign tumors in or on your uterus? Here’s what you need to know.
Identifying Risk Factors for Fibroids
Right now, there’s not one clear reason why women develop fibroids. However, we can clearly identify certain risk factors.
First, matters when it comes to fibroid risk. Specifically, Black or Hispanic women (especially ones with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) or a family history) have the highest risk for fibroids. In fact, one study in the BJOG Journal showed that black women have at least a 33% higher likelihood of developing these growths. As a result, between 70% and 80% of black women develop fibroids by their 50th birthday.
However, race is not the only risk factor for fibroids. Other culprits include age (your risk goes down as you age), hypertension, and your pregnancy history (the more full-term pregnancies you have, the lower your fibroid risk appears to be.) Breastfeeding seems to help lower your risk, too, since nursing lowers ovarian hormone levels. But smoking or consuming too many soy products may increase your risk.
Finally, some oral or injectable contraceptives increase risk by elevating your estrogen levels. At the same time, some women control fibroid symptoms such as heavy bleeding with birth control. Yet, because they can increase tumor size, you may prefer to manage symptoms (and shrink your fibroids) with UFE (uterine fibroid embolization.)
Fibroid Growth and the Environment
A study in Fertility and Sterility found that pregnant women who were exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in utero gave birth to daughters with elevated risk factors for fibroids. They concluded these hormones impact your uterus in ways that increase the female fetus’ odds of developing fibroids later in life.
But what are these endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)? Man-made or natural, these are compounds like BPA and phthalates that mess with your endocrine system. In turn, they can interfere with your reproductive, neurological and immune health.
Today, we have several that prove any type of phthalate exposure increases your risk for fibroids. As a result, we can conclude that EDC exposure if a fibroid risk factor, as is having diabetes, cardiovascular disease or a reproductive tract disorder; being obese or over the age of 40; and having never completed a full-term pregnancy.
Confirming a Fibroid Diagnosis in Dallas
If you have symptoms like heavy periods, incontinence, pelvic or back pain, your doctor may check you for fibroids. To receive a diagnosis, you will likely have a pelvic exam and sonogram; a transvaginal sonogram may be necessary to determine the effects of any growths you have.
After a diagnosis, we invite you to explore treatment options. And, while many doctors will suggest that surgery is your only pathway to fibroid relief, that’s simply not the case. Instead, we invite you to contact our fibroid specialists in Dallas, TX. Together, we’ll explore minimally-invasive, non-surgical fibroid treatments that will help you overcome disruptive symptoms without surgery, overnight hospital stays or an extended recovery period!