Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths of the uterine muscle occurring in 30-40% of women. They usually range in size from as small as a pea to as large as a grapefruit. The study of fibroid remains the subject of research but genetics is an important factor the condition being more common in Afro Caribbean women.
It is estimated that 75% of women with fibroids do not have symptoms; therefore many women don’t know they have fibroids. Whether or not you have symptoms depends on the size of the fibroids and where they are in your womb. This also affects the types of symptoms you are likely to have. For example, a small fibroid in the wall of your womb probably won’t cause any problems, whereas a large fibroid growing outward from your womb might press against your bladder, causing bladder problems.
About 20-25% of all women have fibroid, and they are very common in women over 30.
Black women are 3 times likelier than other women to have fibroids. Fibroids are more common in women who are significantly overweight and in women who have never had children.
Fibroids are more common in women towards the end of their reproductive years. Although no one knows the exact cause of fibroids, their growth seems to be related to estrogen production. If you are pregnant or taking birth control pills or menopausal estrogen, fibroids may grow more quickly because of the increased estrogen level in your body.
Your doctor might find one or more fibroids during a routine pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound. Most women who have fibroids are not aware of them. Most fibroids cause minor or no symptoms and don’t require treatment. However, 1 in 4 women who have fibroid problems the quality of life there is affect and require treatment.
The most common symptom of fibroids is heavy menstrual bleeding. Other symptoms include abdominal pain or pressure, changes in bladder and bowel patterns and, in some cases infertility.
Although a healthy diet may not reduce your fibroids, it may help reduce some of the symptoms:
- Avoid alcohol, sugar and saturated fats. They make it difficult for your body to regulate hormones. This can increase cramps and bloating.
- Eat fruits and vegetables, particularly broccoli and spinach – they also may help your body regulate its estrogen levels.
- Get plenty of B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and potassium – thought to help reduce cramps and bloating