My family (mom, sister or cousin) have Uterine Fibroids. Will I get it if I take beer?
If your sister or mother has uterine fibroids, you have a 20-25% lifetime risk of getting it. This does not necessarily mean that you have a similar risk of infertility.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors in the uterine wall. Although it is a benign tumor, it can cause a lot of health problems ranging from uterine bleeding to infertility. As many as 3 out of 4 women have uterine fibroids sometime during their lives. One in ten adult women in their twenties has at least one fibroid, but most are unaware of them because they often cause no symptoms. Chance of getting it increases with age until menopause. A small percentage of women with fibroids have many, large tumors. This can cause infertility.
Epidemiological studies say that close female relatives of women with uterine fibroids are two to three times more likely to get them than those who do not have affected mothers or sisters.
What causes Uterine Fibroids?
Scientists from Multiple Leiomyoma (the medical name for fibroids) Consortium has identified that the gene that codes for a protein fumarate dihydratase (FH) is mutated at position 25. The consortium did a detailed study of the patients from England and Finland and found that FH gene, that acts as a tumor suppressor is mutated in all the patients while 150 normal controls had no mutations. There is strong evidence that FH gene mutation causes Uterine Fibroids.
Some of the factors that researchers have associated with an increased risk of developing fibroids include having the first menstrual period (menarche) prior to age 10, consumption of alcohol (particularly beer), uterine infections, and elevated blood pressure (hypertension). If you would like to read more about uterine fibroids, visit the website of the consortium or check some of the book suggestions in this page.
How do I know if I have Uterine Fibroids?
Although most fibroids do not cause any symptoms, some women with fibroids have:
- Pain during sex
- Frequent urination
- Heavy bleeding or painful periods
- Feeling of fullness in the pelvic area
- Lower back pain
- Complications during pregnancy and labor
- Prolonged menstrual periods (7 days or longer)
During manual pelvic examination doctors can often identify moderate and large-sized fibroids. Imaging tests are usually done to confirm the presence of Uterine Fibroids.
Can Uterine Fibroids be treated?
Most uterine Fibroids are small, harmless and do not show symptoms and need not to be treated. Fibroids shrink with menopause. But some fibroids press other organs, cause pregnancy problems and are painful. Some treatment options for fibroids include :
- Surgical removal
- Blood supply to fibroids can be cut off
- The entire uterus can be removed
- Medicine can temporarily shrink fibroids
Many women have successful pregnancies without removing the fibroids as long as they are not inside the uterine cavity. The location of the fibroids has a strong influence on how to treat them.