Are you among the millions of women worldwide suffering with Uterine Fibroids (UF)? This is a common and distressing disease that impacts many aspects of a woman’s life.
You are not alone and you can do something about it.
Women Talking Fibroids is here to give you the information you need to understand this disease – with the help of real women and their experiences.
As shown below, Uterine Fibroids are described based on their location within the womb (uterus).
Some fibroids can exist as combinations, for example, pedunculated submucosal or pedunculated subserosal fibroids.
Remember, your doctor is the only person who can accurately diagnose whether you have Uterine Fibroids (UF).
The information here is just a starting point. If you think you may have UF, you should talk to your doctor, who will also explain HOW it can be diagnosed and managed.
Which can be irregular and/or heavy periods - many women assume heavy menstrual bleeding is ‘normal’ when in fact it may not be and is a common symptom of Uterine Fibroids
Fibroids disturb the reproductive cycle, difficulty in becoming pregnant, increased risk of miscarriage and pre-term birth
Such as pressure or pain in the pelvis, frequent urination and constipation or painful bowel movements, pain or discomfort during sex
Listen to real women talking about how THEY have dealt with their Uterine Fibroids. Do you share their experience or do you have a different perspective? Tell us YOUR views
There are several risk factors for developing Uterine Fibroids. Several factors can contribute to their development but we know that chemical signals within the body, called hormones, and family history have a great influence on fibroid growth.
There is likely to be a combination of factors at play, and we know that the hormones oestrogen and progesterone both promote the growth of fibroids. This is why some therapies target these hormones.
Specific risk factors for developing Uterine Fibroids include:
Uterine Fibroids become more common as women get older, until they reach the age where they go through the menopause. There seems to be a large increase in the number of fibroids diagnosed in women in their 40s. This does not necessarily mean that fibroids are more common in women in their 40s, but rather that existing fibroids could start to grow quicker or symptoms could become more obvious.
Women who have given birth have a lower risk of developing Uterine Fibroids than those who have had no children. This risk becomes lower as a woman has more children and also if there are shorter gaps between each birth. Having children could lower the risk of fibroids because pregnancy limits the time a woman is exposed to high levels of a specific hormone called oestrogen.
Women with high blood pressure or a risk of heart disease have a higher likelihood of developing fibroids. One study showed that high blood pressure is linked to a higher risk of developing fibroids, even when medical care and treatment with blood pressure medications was taken into account.
Women who have gone through the menopause have a lower risk of developing Uterine Fibroids. Existing fibroids tend to shrink in postmenopausal women because oestrogen levels in the body are very low, and when deprived of oestrogen, fibroids shrink.
Uterine Fibroids are 2-3 times more common in Afro-Caribbean origin women and tend to be larger, more numerous and develop at an earlier age.
Women with active lifestyles who get plenty of exercise have a reduced risk of developing Uterine Fibroids. One study showed that the risk could be reduced by as much as 40%.
The development of Uterine Fibroids appears to be more common if there is a family history; women with fibroids are more likely to have a close female family member, such as a sister or mother, with the same condition compared to women without fibroids.
There is a higher risk of Uterine Fibroids in overweight women and the risk seems to increase consistently the more overweight a woman is. This could be due to hormone changes associated with obesity.
The age of the first period varies greatly depending on regions, race, genetic factors, etc, but a rough average age is 13 years. There is a slightly higher risk of developing Uterine Fibroids if the first period happened at an early age. Women who were 10 years old or younger when they had their first period have a higher risk of Uterine Fibroids when compared with women who were 12 years old at the time of their first period. Women whose periods began at age 16 or older have a lower risk of developing Uterine Fibroids. The early onset of periods can slightly increase the risk of developing fibroids because the womb (uterus) wall (the myometrium) goes through more changes; called cell divisions, increasing the chance of an error being introduced into the process of cell divisions - which leads to fibroids forming.
Your doctor is used to talking about these sorts of symptoms so there is nothing to feel embarrassed about either. Remember, 8 in every 10 women will have Uterine Fibroids by the time they reach the menopause. You really are not alone!
If your doctor suspects you have Uterine Fibroids, they will explain how it can be diagnosed and indeed what the best management plan is for you. This may include a surgical procedure, a non-surgical procedure or taking a medicine.
Heavy bleeding and pain every month – is it how it should be?