Your doctor has just given you some startling news: you have uterine fibroids. While he assures you that these uterine growths are non-cancerous and completely benign you may be wondering what to expect. Will the growths cause fertility problems? If you do get pregnant, will the fibroids interfere with your ability to have a healthy child? None of these questions have a simple answer, but experts have gathered quite a bit of information on the topic of fibroids.
Note that fibroids are very common. Three out of four women will develop uterine fibroids at one point or another. It's usual for the fibroids to develop during a woman's childbearing years. This is not the best state of affairs since fibroids sometimes do affect a woman's ability to conceive.
Researchers still haven't found a definitive cause for these benign tumors but have managed to isolate a number of factors which seem to contribute to their formation.
*Age—women most often develop fibroids in their late 30's and during their 40's
*Heredity—if a close female relative had fibroids, you probably will, too.
*Race—African-American women have a heightened risk for developing uterine fibroids in comparison with other races. Researchers have discovered that black women run a risk 2-3 times greater than other women for developing the condition. They also get them at a younger age. Black women get more fibroids and these grow to a larger size.
*Hormones—uterine fibroids need progesterone and estrogen to develop and grow. When fibroids are seen under a microscope, they have more receptors for these hormones than normal uterine muscle tissue. But the very same hormones are needed for getting the lining of the uterus (endometrium) ready for pregnancy.
*Chemicals—growth factors such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF), for instance, are types of chemicals that aids the body in tissue maintenance. But it is also believed that IGF and other chemicals involved in stimulating growth also stimulate the growth of fibroids.
*Genetic Alterations—the genetic makeup of fibroids is quite similar to the makeup of the uterine muscle cells but the code has undergone some alteration.
Some factors are still being researched and are not yet proven risk factors. These factors include:
*Obesity—some studies suggest that obese women have a higher rate for developing fibroids.
*Pregnancy and delivery—some research shows that once a woman becomes pregnant or has a child, her risk for uterine fibroids decreases.
*Oral Contraceptives—some convincing evidence exists that taking the Pill will reduce your risk of developing fibroids. The only exception is for those women who start to take the Pill very early, from age 13 to age 16.