Get Wise to Fibroids

Some fibroids are big, some are small, some women have a lot, some have just one. They are almost always non-cancerous, but they can cause heavy periods, bloating, and pelvic pain, among other things. Doctors classify fibroids by where they are in the uterus.¹
  • Uterus

    Intramural:

    These can cause heavy periods or pressure and they grow within the muscular walls of the uterus.

  • Submucosal:

    Not as common as intramural, these fibroids can also cause heavy periods, but they’re found either inside or abutting the uterine cavity.

  • Subserosal:

    Found on the outer wall of the uterus, these typically cause “bulk” or pressure symptoms.

  • Pedunculated:

    Less common than other fibroids, these grow on a thin stalk.

Fibroids are actually quite common, affecting up to 80% of women by the age of 50.²

The Trouble With Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are benign growths that occur in the uterus. They range in size, quantity, and location. Fibroid tissue on its own can be harmless, but for some of us, fibroids can cause severe discomfort and take a toll on our daily lives.³
Fruit comparison: Grapefruit and blue berry

You might have fibroids if you have:

Take the symptom quiz to get a better grasp on what might be causing your heavy periods.

What About Polyps? Unlike fibroids, which are made up of the muscular tissue of the uterus, polyps are made up of the same tissue that makes up the uterine lining, or endometrium. They can range in size from a small seed to the size of a golf ball and can cause heavy periods.4

Cells Gone Rogue

Also known as uterine leiomyomas or myomas, uterine fibroids are made up of the same muscular tissue of the uterus, called the myometrium. They start to grow when a cell goes rogue and becomes a fibroid cell rather than a uterine one. That cell replicates over and over and forms a fibroid tumor, which can grow fast or slow or even shrink over time.

Getting to the Root of Fibroids

  • Nobody’s quite sure what causes uterine fibroids,
    but medical experts agree they need female
    hormones, estrogen and progesterone, to grow.
  • When hormone levels are low or when your doctor prescribes an anti-hormone medication, they often shrink.
  • Once you reach menopause, your fibroids tend to
    stop growing, shrink, or disappear altogether.

An Age-Old Issue:
The Ancient Greeks wrote about fibroids, and uterine fibroids have been found in Egyptian mummies.5

A Few Risk Factors for Fibroids6

  • Age

    Uterine fibroids become more common as you age, especially during your 30s and 40s up until menopause. After menopause they usually shrink.

  • Family History

    Having a family member with fibroids increases your risk. If your mother had uterine fibroids, your risk is about three times higher than average.

  • Obesity

    Women who are overweight are at higher risk. For very heavy women, the risk is two to three times greater than average.

  • Ethnicity

    Around 80% of African American women and 70% of Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian women develop uterine fibroids by the time they are 50.

Fighting Fibroids

Historically, hysterectomy was the only solution for treating fibroids. But that was then. Today, there are treatment options that are far less invasive than removing your uterus. Talk to your doctor about what options could be right for you.

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  1. Mayo Clinic. Uterine fibroids. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/symptoms-causes/syc-20354288. Accessed March 10, 2021.
  2. Uterine Fibroid Fact Sheet. Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids. Accessed February 20, 2019.
  3. Mayo Clinic—Uterine Fibroids—www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/symptoms-causes/syc-20354288
  4. Mayo Clinic. Uterine polyps. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-polyps/basics/definition/con-20027472. Accessed March 10, 2021.
  5. Reidy J, Hacking N, McLucas B, eds. Radiological Interventions in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Springer. 2014.
  6. National Institutes of Health. What are the risk factors for uterine fibroids? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/uterine/conditioninfo/people-affected. Accessed March 10, 2021.