Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that affect over 35 million American women. These benign growths can trigger many frustrating symptoms, including pain, heavy bleeding, incontinence, pain during sex, and more.
At Darin Swainston MD. FACOG in Las Vegas, Nevada, our board-certified providers specialize in diagnosing and treating fibroids — including using the minimally invasive Acessa® Procedure which treats fibroids without removing your uterus.
Keep reading to learn five issues that increase your risk of developing uterine fibroids and the treatments that can help these problematic growths.
1. Having a condition linked to high estrogen
Researchers have linked the development of uterine fibroids to higher-than-normal estrogen levels. As such, the risk of getting fibroids is higher in women who have an underlying condition linked to high estrogen levels, such as:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Insulin resistance
Other conditions may also cause high estrogen, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your hormone levels or fibroids.
2. Having a diet that includes meat and dairy
Did you know eating meat and dairy increases the amount of estrogen your body produces? When you eat these foods consistently over time, your estrogen levels remain elevated and your chances of having fibroids — or of existing fibroids getting worse — increases.
Medical researchers are still studying the link between your diet and fibroids, but they have found that unprocessed (whole), plant-based foods actually help regulate your hormones and keep estrogen levels in the normal range.
In fact, they’ve found a diet centered on plant foods, like vegetables, legumes, fresh fruits, and whole grains and starches, actually lowers your risk of developing uterine fibroids.
3. Being overweight or obese
If you’re overweight or obese, your risk of developing uterine fibroids is 2-3 times greater than for women at a healthy weight. The risk is highest in women who carry their extra weight as abdominal visceral fat.
This is because your fat cells produce estrogen. When you’re overweight or obese, your body makes even more estrogen. Scientists have found that this causes long-term, low-grade inflammation, which can cause tumors to grow — including fibroids and breast cancer tumors.
4. Having hypertension (chronic high blood pressure)
Several medical studies show that women who struggle with chronic high blood pressure have a greater risk of developing uterine fibroids. Scientists believe this link exists because having chronically high blood pressure damages your blood vessels and arteries.
Over time, this triggers an increase in the growth of vascular and smooth muscle cells to try to repair the damage. Since fibroids are smooth muscle tumors, like the wall of your uterus, they believe this may contribute to the development of fibroids.
5. Having a family history of fibroids
If your mother, grandmother, aunts, or sisters have a history of uterine fibroids, your risk of having them is about 3 times greater than the average risk. You can’t change your family history, but by changing your diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and managing any underlying conditions, you can better control your risk of fibroids.
Help for uterine fibroids
If you’re worried about fibroids, know that effective treatments exist. At Darin Swainston MD. FACOG, your provider evaluates your symptoms, performs an exam, and uses imaging studies like ultrasound, to recommend a personalized fibroid treatment plan for you.
Depending on your needs and any risks posed by your specific fibroids, different options may include:
- Medications (e.g., hormonal contraceptives; Gn-RH agonists)
- Noninvasive procedures (e.g., ultrasound surgery)
- Minimally invasive procedures (e.g., uterine artery embolization; endometrial ablation)
- Traditional surgery (e.g., myomectomy; hysterectomy)
These therapies can minimize or remove your fibroids. However, it’s important to note they can also affect your fertility and reproductive health. That’s why our practice also offers an innovative fibroid treatment that preserves your uterus while treating your fibroids: the Acessa Procedure.
The Acessa Procedure for fibroids
The Acessa Procedure is a treatment for pre-menopausal women struggling with the frustrating symptoms of fibroids. Performed on an outpatient basis, the Acessa Procedure typically takes 1.5-2 hours.
First, you’re given general anesthesia to keep you comfortable. Then your provider makes two small incisions and uses the Acessa ultrasound probe and mapping system to pinpoint the precise location of your fibroids.
Using the tip of the Acessa handpiece, your provider sends radiofrequency (RF) energy into the fibroid, heating and destroying the tissue. Your body then removes the dead fibroid cells with other bodily waste.
Learn more about your risk factors for uterine fibroids or set up a consultation for fibroid treatment by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone at Darin Swainston MD. FACOG in Las Vegas, Nevada.