Read on to learn how fibroids and perimenopause are closely linked.
Fibroids are uterine tumors that develop in the smooth muscle. They can vary in size, ranging from quite small to quite large.
On average, fibroids aren’t cancerous, but some are. Most fibroids that start benign, or non-cancerous, will remain such. However, cancerous tumors tend to start that way.
During perimenopause, the risk of the woman developing uterine fibroids is at its highest. Not to say that fibroids do not occur at other times, but overall, women begin to notice symptoms of fibroids, if there are any, around the time that menopause is approaching.
For most women, this means the risk is highest between the ages of 40 and 58. However, this age range varies greatly. Perimenopause can begin as soon as 30 for some women and sometimes earlier. However, because most fibroids are non-cancerous tumors, fibroids are not always a matter of concern and don't always require treatment.
As previously mentioned, most fibroids are small and benign, but some will grow large and some will be cancerous.
Fibroids are usually discovered during routine pap smears and pelvic exams, though some patients may recognize their presence after experiencing discomfort.
Some of the common symptoms associated with fibroids include:
● Heavy bleeding
● Prolonged periods
● Bleeding in between periods
● Pelvic pressure
● Painful sex
● Frequent urination
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact your local healthcare provider for more information on what steps to take next to secure a diagnosis.
In many cases, fibroids are detected by gynecologists during routine pelvic exams. However, if your doctor suspects they have located fibroids in the uterus, they will often order an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to confirm this suspicion. In some cases, other testing, such as HSG, hysteroscopy, or a laparoscopy, may be necessary.
Several factors can put women at an increased risk of developing uterine fibroids over their lifetime. While these factors increase the risk of fibroids for many women, the truth is that 70% to 80% of women will develop fibroids at some point in their lives whether knowingly or unknowingly.
Despite this, there are common traits that increase a woman's risk of developing fibroids. One of these risks is hereditary. If your mother had fibroids in her lifetime, your risk of developing fibroids triples.
Another risk factor is your racial background. According to studies, African-American women develop fibroids at a younger age than women of other races.
Obesity is another concern. Overweight women have as much as a double or triple chance of acquiring uterine fibroids.
Lastly, as we've mentioned, age is an important factor to consider. Women between 30 and 50 years old are prone to developing fibroids, but they gradually shrink once they develop. However, fibroids can affect women of all ages.
Treatment for fibroids is generally only necessary when they are causing pain or emotional distress. Most fibroids are harmless. However, there are times when medical intervention is needed.
If you suffer from severe pain, recurrent backaches, heavy and prolonged periods, or have trouble getting pregnant, it may be time to speak with your doctor about an individualized treatment plan to get your health back on track.
Treatment for fibroids will depend upon several factors, including your age, weight, the number of fibroids present, the severity of your symptoms, and whether or not you are trying to conceive.
Your doctor will create an individualized treatment plan based on your needs and goals. Treatment for fibroids may include:
● Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
● Iron Supplements
● Anti-Hormonal Drugs
Many women with uterine fibroids may not be aware they have them because they are painless and don’t cause any discomfort. Yet for some women, fibroids can severely hinder their overall health, including the ability to conceive.
More information about perimenopause, fibroids, and women’s health can be found at Georgia Vascular Institute.