If you suffer from fibroids, you might be wondering: can fibroids cause weight gain? Maybe you have noticed that pants don’t fit like they used to and you feel self-conscious about the way your stomach is bloated at times. You may ask yourself if the culprit could be your fibroids. The quick answer is yes, though the whole story is a bit more complicated than that. We’ll look at what fibroids are, what causes them, and what symptoms can occur and then examine how all of this relates to weight gain.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow in the muscle tissue of the uterus. Though the word “tumor” can induce panic, there’s no need to worry. Fibroids are benign and many times cause women no inconvenience. These growths can vary in size from nearly undetectable to almost 8 inches in size, and they can be made up of one single fibroid or grouped in a cluster.
Four main types of fibroids occur: subserosal, intramural, submucosal, and pedunculated. They differ based on their location and the accompanying symptoms they produce, which range based on the type thanks to their proximity to different areas. The most common type of fibroid, intramural, can cause weight gain as it grows larger and makes the uterus bloat.
Fibroids are most common in women of childbearing age, occurring typically between the ages of 30-45. They also occur more commonly with African-American women and those with a family history of fibroids.
Common fibroid symptoms
Some women with fibroids will not experience symptoms that interfere with their lives. However, many others will encounter certain problematic things that will get in the way of their daily routines. One of the most common and troublesome complaints is heavy menstrual bleeding. Many women suffer so acutely that they feel uncomfortable leaving the house when it’s that time of the month. The heavy periods sometimes cause anxiety as women wonder if they will have an accident in public.
Another common complaint that leads many women to wonder if fibroids cause weight gain is bloating and constipation. Fibroids can grow larger over time (many associate this with a surge in estrogen and progesterone), causing the uterus to expand and press against the stomach and colon, leading to a fuller abdomen and constipation. This is where fibroids and weight gain intersect. As fibroids grow larger, they become heavier, causing you to gain weight. And as fibroids expand, they cause bloating and cause your abdomen to expand, which can make you appear as if you have gained weight, whether you have or not.
How to deal with fibroid weight gain
If you have gained weight due to your fibroids, you may want to consider a few lifestyle changes that can help you lose weight, as this could improve your fibroid symptoms. Cutting just 500 calories a day can make a difference, especially if you make healthier choices, incorporating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Avoid highly processed foods and high-fat meat and dairy, as these can contain hormones that could fuel fibroid growth.
Incorporate regular exercise into your weekly routine. MayoClinic.com reports that estrogen contributes to fibroid growth, and this is heightened with visceral fat that accumulates around the stomach area. Try an aerobic exercise such as running, biking, or swimming. You may also want to choose an exercise that specifically targets your abdomen, such as pilates.
When lifestyle changes don’t help
You may find that, despite your best efforts, your fibroid symptoms continue to bother you even with lifestyle changes. When this occurs, don’t be afraid to seek out professional medical assistance to treat your fibroids. You may have heard that hysterectomy is your only option for relief, and this simply isn’t true! There are minimally-invasive options available for many women. One of them is uterine fibroid embolization, or UFE. UFE uses a tiny catheter inserted in the groin area. Tiny particles are injected into your artery to block blood flow to the fibroids. Without their blood supply, the fibroids shrink, the troublesome symptoms are eliminated.
UFE is a great choice for many women because of its minimally-invasive nature. It allows you to return to your life sooner, with many women getting back to work and daily activities in as little as one week. There is no hospitalization required and no scarring. This FDA-approved procedure yields over 95% patient satisfaction.
Usually, a multidisciplinary approach is best when it comes to treating symptoms of fibroids. Eating better and exercising are good for your health anyway, and they have the added advantage of improving fibroid symptoms. Additionally, taking advantage of minimally invasive procedures like UFE could further improve the way you feel and give you back your life again.