Fibroid Awareness Month: 3 important lifestyle changes to prevent uterine fibroids
Fibroid Awareness Month 2022: Heavy bleeding and intense pain in lower abdomen could be a sign of uterine fibroid. Uterine fibroids are quite common in women in their reproductive age and as per studies around 25% to 50% women in India experience them. While most of these fibroids are harmless, many of them grow into large tumours resulting in painful symptoms. However, unlike popularly believed, they are noncancerous and there are little chances of them turning malignant. (Also read: Fibroid Awareness Month 2022: Are uterine fibroids cancerous growths in one’s uterus? Doctor answers)
Depending on their size and shape, the symptoms of uterine fibroid can differ from person to person. While some may not experience any symptoms, others could struggle with extreme ones.
“Fibroids are the most common and noncancerous tumour of the uterus. Around 40% to 80% of women of reproductive age group have fibroids. Fibroids can develop in the form of one nodule or come in clusters. They can change the size, shape and volume of the uterus. Fibroid clusters can vary in size from 1 mm to 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter or much bigger. Such large tumours can cause intense lower abdominal pain during menstruation and heavy bleeding,” says Dr Manish Kumar, Consultant Interventional Radiologist, Ruby General Hospital & Medica Superspeciality Hospital, Kolkata.
The reasons for the growth of fibroids are not known. Most fibroids occur in women during their reproductive age. They are not regularly found in young girls who have not had their periods. From hormonal changes, family history, pregnancy to unhealthy lifestyle, there could be many causes.
Dr Manish Kumar says smaller fibroids are usually asymptomatic and their diagnosis is incidental. Asymptomatic fibroids need to be followed up with interval ultrasonography. Symptoms depend on the age of a woman, size, location and number of the fibroids. Some of the common symptoms one might experience are:
• Heavy bleeding and long days of menstruation
• Intense lower abdominal pain specially during menstruation
• Uneasiness and pain during sexual intercourse
• Feeling of lump in the lower abdomen
• Pain in the lower back
• Chronic vaginal discharge
• Inconvenience while urinating
The symptoms of uterine fibroids reduce when women reach the menopause stage since hormone production declines inside their bodies.
Fibroids can be treated with medication if they are small in size, but if they are large or multiple and not responding to medicines, doctors might suggest surgery.
Considering lifestyle factors play an important role in the development of uterine fibroid, here are some of the prevention tips by Dr Kumar.
Weight management: Losing weight can be difficult for some women, but it is important to understand that being overweight increases the likelihood of fibroids by 11 times.
Regular physical activity: A few investigations propose that exercise can reduce the production of fibroids. At least three hours of energetic activity every week reduces fibroids by up to 40%. Exercising reduces estrogen and progesterone, subsequently lessening the production of fibroids.
A healthy diet: Some studies recommend a certain way of life to reduce the possibility of fibroids. An investigation discovered that high-sugar diets might be harmful for women. Another investigation discovered that eating vegetables like arugula, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and turnip greens could reduce the chances of developing fibroids. Foods high in vitamins D, C, and K can help to prevent fibroid growth. So, these are some lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of having uterine fibroids.