Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas or myomas, are noncancerous growths that develop in your uterus during childbearing years. Fibroids 一 which can be as small as a seed or as large as a grapefruit 一 can affect your menstrual cycle, causing heavy and painful periods.
Unfortunately, fibroids are a common complaint that we see at Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group in Long Beach, California. As many as 80% of women have fibroids by the time they turn 50, and if you started your period early, you’re more likely to develop them.
Exploring the connection between early menstruation and fibroids
Most girls start their first period (menarche) around age 12 or 13, but girls who have earlier periods are more likely to develop fibroids. Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology notes that early menarche is linked to higher rates of uterine fibroids, obesity, and diabetes. In another study, women who started menstruating before age 12 also had higher chances of cardiovascular disease.
Hormones are the underlying factor in the increased risk of these unwanted health conditions. The onset of menstruation exposes women to higher levels of estrogen and progesterone.
These hormones are produced in your ovaries and play a role in the regeneration of your uterine lining each month. They can also contribute to fibroid growth. Fibroids are considered estrogen-dependent, which means they need estrogen to develop.
Early menarche means more years exposed to these hormones, which can increase your risk of fibroids. There are no cases of fibroids developing before puberty for this reason.
Can you prevent uterine fibroids?
Even if you started menstruating early, it doesn’t mean you’ll definitely develop fibroids, and if you started menstruating later in your teens, it’s also possible to develop fibroids. In addition to your age at first menstruation, other risk factors include family history of fibroids, race, and environmental causes.
Not all risk factors are within your control, but there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing fibroids. These include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
If you suspect you have a fibroid, don’t hesitate to make an appointment. Fibroids can be asymptomatic, but as they continue to grow, they can cause issues such as lower back pain, painful and heavy periods, long periods, pelvic pain, and constipation. The good news is that fibroids are benign and treatable.
Getting relief from fibroids
Regardless of when you had your first period, if you develop fibroids and bothersome symptoms, you’re not stuck dealing with them alone. You don’t necessarily need major surgery like hysterectomy, either.
Dr. Essam Taymour and his team at Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group offer a nonsurgical, incisionless procedure called transcervical fibroid ablation (TFA). During this outpatient procedure, Dr. Taymour uses radiofrequency energy to shrink your fibroid and provide relief from your symptoms.
Many women who undergo this procedure, called the Sonata Treatment, report improved heavy bleeding within the first three months. For those who have struggled for years with heavy bleeding and painful periods, this treatment can be a beacon of hope.
Fibroids and the resulting discomfort can severely impact your quality of life, leaving you out of commission for several days each month. Learn more about fibroid treatment options and book an appointment today. You can call us at 562-247-3038 or use our online request tool.