woman researching uterine fibroids

Uterine Fibroids 101

Uterine fibroids, according to the Office on Women’s Health, are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. Though it may sound frightening, fibroids are almost always benign, meaning they’re not cancerous. It’s important to be aware of what uterine fibroids are because for most women, fibroids do not cause any symptoms at all. For more information on how uterine fibroids can affect you and how they can be treated, keep reading.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids, muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus, can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. They are usually relatively small and can grow as a single tumor or there can by many of them throughout the uterus.

What are the risk factors?

Age, family history, ethnic origin, obesity, and eating habits can all factor into a woman developing uterine fibroids. Fibroids become more common as women age, especially during menopause. Having fibroids run in the family also increases your risk of developing them by about three times higher than average. In general, African-American women are more likely to develop fibroids than other ethnicities and women who are overweight are also at a higher risk for fibroids. As for eating habits, eating a lot of red meat and ham has shown to be linked with a higher risk of fibroids while eating plenty of green vegetables seems to help protect women from developing them.

What are symptoms of fibroids?

Though most fibroids do not cause any symptoms, some women may experience heavy bleeding, feeling of fullness in the pelvic area, enlargement of the lower abdomen, frequent urination, pain during sex, and lower back pain. In rarer cases, fibroids may cause complications during pregnancy and labor as well as cause reproductive problems, such as infertility.

Can fibroids turn into cancer?

Fibroids are almost always benign. Rarely, meaning less than one in 1,000, a cancerous fibroid will occur, which is called leiomyosarcoma. However, doctors think that these cancers are not linked with already-existing fibroids. Having fibroids does not increase your risk of developing a cancerous fibroid, and having fibroids does not increase a woman’s chances of getting other forms of cancer in the uterus.

How are fibroids treated?

After your doctor has confirmed you have fibroids through a regular pelvic exam, there are a number of ways to treat them if you’re experiencing symptoms. Through medication, surgery, or a combination of both, fibroids are typically easy to treat and manage.

Though fibroids are usually harmless, it’s important to keep yourself educated on any risk factors and symptoms that may affect your health. If you have any questions about uterine fibroids, feel free to contact Dr. Carson at 770-506-4007 today to make an appointment with Georgia Vascular Institute. We have several convenient locations in the metro Atlanta area including Buckhead Atlanta, Forest Park, Decatur, Stockbridge, and Jonesboro.