What causes uterine fibroids?
The exact cause of uterine fibroids is unknown. However, doctors know that uterine fibroids may be influenced by hormones. For example, fibroids contain more estrogen and estrogen receptors than do normal uterine muscle cells. Therefore, estrogen and progesterone appear to promote the growth of fibroids.
Risk factors increase the likelihood of experiencing a disease or condition. Although there are few known risk factors for uterine fibroids, there seems to be a familial predisposition for the condition. Additionally, African American women are 3 times more likely to be affected than other women. Other factors for developing uterine fibroids include:
Ethnicity - Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with uterine fibroids and tend to experience fibroids at younger ages, in larger quantities and overall size.
Family history - If your mother or sister has been diagnosed with fibroids, your risk of also developing them increases by two to three.
Genes - Many fibroids contain alterations in genes that code for uterine muscle cells.
Hormones - Hormonal drugs that contain estrogen, such as birth control pills, may cause fibroids to grow.
Obesity - Obese women may be at higher risk of fibroids.
Oral contraceptives - Women who take oral contraceptives may be at a lower risk of fibroids, except those who start oral contraceptives between the ages 13 and 16.
Other chemicals - Substances that help the body maintain tissues, such as insulin-like growth factor, may affect fibroid growth.
Pregnancy and childbirth - Pregnancy and childbirth seem to have a protective effect against developing uterine fibroids.
Secondary changes may develop with uterine fibroids such as hemorrhage, necrosis, calcification, and cystic changes. But how do you know when such changes indicate a uterine fibroid, or not? Learn to identify the signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids next.
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