Genetics and Fibroids: What Should I Know?
A majority of women are at risk for fibroids (non-cancerous tumors of varying size that grow in the wall of the uterus) by the time they reach their 40s and 50s, and over a third develop them in their 20s and 30s. Each and every one of these women understandably has questions about risk factors, treatment, management, and symptoms.
One of the most common questions women ask their physician is they’ve been diagnosed with or believe they’re vulnerable to fibroids is whether or not they’re genetic. While there is no definitive answer to this question, a growing body of research indicates that genetics may sometimes factor into the development and diagnosis of fibroids.
What Are Some Common Risk Factors for Fibroids?
Are Fibroids Genetic?
(This image is from Pixabay.)
A number of factors can influence the onset of fibroid, including:
Excess Hormone Production – A significant factor in the development and growth of fibroids is the excess production of estrogen and progesterone, hormones that contribute to the growth of the uterine lining each month. Fibroids experience their highest level of growth during childbearing years when these hormones are more abundant.
Genetics and Cell Mutation – Let’s be clear: if your mother, sister, aunt, or cousin has fibroids, it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to get them. While family history is one of the factors doctors will examine, it’s not the primary determining factor. Genetics, however, do sometimes play at least a peripheral role in these tumors, specifically genetic mutation and alteration of cells often found in fibroids. It’s also worth noting that fibroids disproportionately affect African-American patients.
Other Risk Factors
Other factors that have been found to contribute to fibroid growth include:
- High Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Frequent Consumption of Red Meat
- Insufficient Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables
- Excessive Alcohol or Caffeine
- Lack of Hydration
- Vitamin D Deficiency
- Early Menstruation
Although they are the most common type of benign pelvic tumor in women, fibroids are actually often underdiagnosed. It’s important to keep working with your doctors if you think you might be vulnerable or are experiencing symptoms, such as:
- Heavy and/or Extended Menstrual Bleeding
- Pelvic Pressure or Pain
- Interference with Sexual Intercourse
- Weight Gain and Bulging of the Lower Abdomen
- Frequent Urination and/or Incontinence
- Lower Back and Leg Pain
While these symptoms, on their own, can often be explained, if they occur without context in combination, you could be experiencing fibroids. Download the Responsum for Fibroids app to best empower yourself, your loved one, or your patients through fibroids diagnoses.