Causes & Risk Factors of Uterine Fibroids

It’s not completely understood what causes fibroids to develop, but a combination of genetic abnormalities, hormonal factors, and abnormalities of uterine blood vessels may play a role.

Several factors have been associated with a greater risk of developing uterine fibroids; these are:

Race: African American women are two to three times more likely to develop fibroids than Caucasian women. They also tend to develop symptoms four to six years earlier and have more complications related to fibroids, such as anemia

Menstrual History: The risk of developing uterine fibroids is higher for women who begin menstruating before the age of ten and lower for women with multiple pregnancies.

Hormonal Contraception: There is a complex, incompletely understood, relationship between uterine fibroids and hormones. Some reports suggest that estrogen and progesterone containing formulations may decrease the development of fibroids, but may also increase their growth once developed. Other reports suggest that long acting progestin only contraception (such as Depo-Provera) protects against the development of fibroids. Despite of this, it is accepted that hormonal contraception can safely be used in women with uterine fibroids.

Diet: Significant consumption of red meat increases the risk, while consumption of green vegetables and citrus fruits tend to decrease the risk of developing uterine fibroids. Recent studies suggest the consumption of dairy products may decrease the risk in African American women.

Alcohol: Consumption of alcohol, particularly beer, increases the risk of developing uterine fibroids. The mechanism is not completely understood.

Heredity: Twin and family studies suggest uterine fibroids may run in families.