Fibroids are the number one reason women require hysterectomies and account for 40% of all hysterectomy surgeries. So, who’s at risk for fibroids? According to “The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy” by Dr. Streicher, there are 4 main factors that are associated with a higher tendency for fibroids (a summary of her findings are described below, please read her book for a full description).
The first is family history. You may have inherited your mom’s curly blond hair and your Grandma’s ability to bake, but if either of them has a history of fibroids, you’re more likely to get them yourself. The same is true for if your sister or aunt has them too!
Next is African-American heritage. Not only are fibroids found more often within this community but the fibroids also tend to be larger, cause more symptoms, and appear earlier in life than for their Caucasian counterparts.
Your pregnancy history also comes into play. It is not yet understood why, according to Dr. Streicher, but women who have had no children are at a higher risk for developing fibroids.
Finally, your diet can also impact the development of fibroids. There is a correlation between eating red meat and developing fibroids. Unfortunately, once the fibroids have started, reducing red meat consumption does not reduce them.
Of course, any woman can develop fibroids. There is no history in my family of fibroids. I am not of African-American descent. Not only do I not consume red meat, I have been a vegetarian for more than a decade. The only risk factor I had was the fact that I had never been pregnant. As well, many women have fibroids and are completely asymptomatic. I, on the other hand, had one small fibroid (3cm) and it was causing a whole lot of problems! I will have some more information on fibroids in a couple of upcoming posts, but just remember that fibroids are always benign (though cysts and other things may not be…more to come soon!).