How Did This Happen?

If you've just found out you have uterine fibroids, or think you may have them, you might be wondering what the future holds. Will you have trouble conceiving? Will you be able to bear a healthy child? While these questions may be difficult to answer, experts have managed to compile a great deal of information on the topic of uterine fibroids. Read on for the lowdown on uterine fibroids.

Three out of every four women will have uterine fibroids during their lifetimes. Most often, fibroids develop during the childbearing years. This is unfortunate, since fibroids can affect a woman's fertility.

Contributory Factors

Researchers haven't found a specific cause of uterine fibroids, though they have determined a number of contributory factors:

*Hormones—Progesterone and estrogen are known to cause uterine fibroids to develop and grow. These same hormones are necessary for preparing the lining of the uterus (endometrium) for pregnancy and seem to stimulate the growth of fibroids, as well. When fibroids are examined and compared microscopically with the normal cells of the uterine muscle, the fibroids are found to have many more receptors for progesterone and estrogen.

*Chemicals—Insulin-like growth factor (IGF), for example, is a chemical that helps the body to maintain tissue and it is believed that this chemical and other types of growth chemicals can stimulate the growth of fibroids.

Altered Code

*Genetic Alterations—Genetic material found in fibroids is similar to that of the uterine muscle cells but the code has undergone some alteration.

There aren't very many known risk factors that predispose a woman for the development of uterine fibroids. Here are the few that have been identified:

*Age—Women tend to develop fibroids during their childbearing years.

*Heredity—If your mother or sister developed uterine fibroids, your risk for developing them is increased.

Black Women

*Race—Black women have the highest rate of uterine fibroids than women from any other racial group. Experts have found that black women have two to three times the risk of developing uterine fibroids. But it gets worse: black women develop fibroids earlier and tend to develop fibroids that are both larger and more numerous.

Other risk factors are still being checked out. On the maybe list for risk factors are:

*Obesity—Some studies have shown that women who are obese have a higher risk for the development of uterine fibroids.

*Conception and childbirth—Some evidence supports the idea that becoming pregnant and having babies protects a woman against developing uterine fibroids.

Compelling Evidence

*The Pill—There is compelling evidence that suggests that taking the Pill reduces your risk for developing uterine fibroids. This protective effect seems to apply across the board for women of all ages, excepting those who began taking the Pill very early, between the ages of 13-16.

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