If you have been suffering from the symptoms of fibroids for years and now are approaching menopause, you want to know what to expect. Will the symptoms get worse, better, or not change at all? How does menopause affect fibroids?
Those Unpredictable Fibroids
Fibroids are benign growths that develop on the inside lining of the uterus. Some women have no symptoms and are not even aware they exist. Others suffer from painful signs like heavy bleeding, longer periods, fatigue, pain, and many other uncomfortable symptoms.
33% of women develop fibroids during their childbearing years, while 70- 80% of women will have them by age 50. Estrogen and progesterone hormones feed fibroids and their growth.
It can be difficult to precisely predict how your existing fibroids will change during menopause.
Between the ages of 40 and 49, most women are beginning to see and feel signs of their body changing. In the past, beginning menopause was referred to as “change of life,” and during this time they begin to notice hormonal fluctuations.
During perimenopause you will experience many of these symptoms:
- Missed periods
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Change in sexual desire
- Weight gain
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood changes
Once a woman has gone twelve months without getting her period, she is diagnosed as being menopausal.
What Happens During Menopause And How Does It Affect Your Fibroids?
The Good News
Progesterone and estrogen are lower during menopause. These two hormones increase a woman’s risk for developing fibroids, whereas during menopause the body produces less hormones. Thus, the risk for any new fibroids decreases, as well as limiting the growth of existing ones.
In addition, the reduction in hormones can also help to reduce any existing fibroids. Some fibroids may shrink and die similar to some treatment options.
The Not So Good News
Unfortunately, there are still risk factors for postmenopausal women. High blood pressure, obesity, low Vitamin D, family history, stress, and being an African American woman all contribute to the likelihood you will suffer from fibroids after menopause. Some of these risk factors you can change or manage, but not all.
Women who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during perimenopause and after menopause may not experience a decrease in symptoms since HRT contains the same hormones. HRT may be beneficial for osteoporosis or cardiovascular disease, but it may actually contribute to fibroid growth. Consider the risks and benefits.
Menopause is not the “cure all” for fibroids since every woman experiences menopause and fibroids differently. What happens for one won’t be the same for another.
What Is The Answer?
If you are menopausal and experiencing fibroid symptoms, there are a variety of treatment options available. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life suffering with fibroid pain after menopause.