September 27, 2022 11:13 am
Millions of American women experience uterine fibroids at some point before age 50. Although fibroids don’t always cause symptoms, these uterine growths can cause some women a great deal of discomfort. If you’re one of them, you may be relieved to know that you may not have to deal with uterine fibroids after menopause.
Making Sense of Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are muscular growths that appear on the wall of the uterus. They are benign, or noncancerous, in nearly all cases.
These growths are very common among women in their 30s and 40s, and up to 80% of women will experience at least one uterine fibroid by age 50. Fibroids can range in size very small (about the size of a seed) to very large—they can even grow over time. A woman may have a single fibroid or clusters of fibroids inside or outside her uterus.
While uterine fibroids can occur in any woman, some women are at an increased risk for fibroids, including those who are obese and those who have a family history of fibroids. Black women are at a particularly high risk and may experience fibroids at a younger age than other women.
Fibroids do not always cause symptoms, but when symptoms do occur, they include:
- A feeling of fullness in your abdomen
- Issues with your period, including cramps, heavy bleeding, longer periods and bleeding between periods
- Low back pain
- Painful sex
- Using the bathroom more frequently or having problems urinating, due to pressure from fibroids
How Menopause Affects Uterine Fibroids
Researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes uterine fibroids, but they appear to be impacted by hormone levels, growing during periods when estrogen and progesterone levels are high, as they are during pregnancy, and shrinking when levels decrease.
Similarly, when a woman enters menopause and the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone, fibroids may stop growing and begin to shrink because of the decrease in the production these hormones. As a result, you are less likely to notice symptoms of uterine fibroids during menopause even if uterine fibroids are present during this time of life.
It is very rare for uterine fibroids to continue to grow after menopause. If you continue to experience symptoms indicative of uterine fibroids after menopause, which are the same as the uterine fibroid symptoms you would experience at any age, talk to your OB/GYN or another medical provider. In many cases, those symptoms in postmenopausal women are related to some other type of health issue requiring treatment.
How Uterine Fibroids Are Treated
Not all women with fibroids experience symptoms, making treatment unnecessary. But in cases where uterine fibroids cause uncomfortable or life-altering symptoms, several treatment options may be recommended.
Treatments for fibroids will be recommended based on several factors, including whether a woman wants to become pregnant in the future, as well as the size and location of the fibroid. An experienced provider can help you determine what makes sense for you when treating uterine fibroids.
A class of medications known as gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists can shrink fibroids. Other medications can help alleviate fibroid symptoms. For example, oral contraceptives can control heavy bleeding and other menstrual irregularities. Over-the-counter pain medications can minimize cramps and low-back pain.
Some women may benefit from having uterine fibroids surgically removed. The type of surgery will depend on the severity of symptoms a woman is experiencing and whether she wants to become pregnant in the future.
When you’re dealing with uncomfortable symptoms related to a women’s health issue, the providers at Magnolia Women’s Center are here to help with prompt diagnosis and treatment.
This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center