Many women who suffer from uterine fibroids—noncancerous tumors that grow in or on the muscle walls of the uterus—put off treatment because they are approaching menopause. While fibroids have been shown to shrink after “The Change,” this is not always the case.
Fibroids grow in part due to the amount of estrogen in a woman’s body. So, the changes in hormones that come with menopause can cause them to stop growing and even shrink. Every woman’s body is different, though, and fibroids can continue to grow. Some doctors believe there is an unknown substance secreted by fat cells that mimics the effect of estrogen on fibroids and makes them grow. Hormone replacement therapy during menopause can also cause fibroids growth.
And even if fibroids do shrink, this may not mean that the problems and symptoms associated with them will disappear completely. Some women continue to experience painful symptoms—including pelvic pressure, urinary urgency, and abdominal bloating—even after menopause.
Putting off treatment is not always in a woman’s best interest. Besides not knowing whether the fibroids will actually shrink after menopause, fibroids may actually grow in the years leading up to menopause due to increased estrogen production.
Right before menopause, when estrogen is removed from the body as the ovaries stop functioning, women will experience several months to years of estrogen-dominated menstrual cycles. Since fibroids are known to be estrogen-sensitive, this period in a woman’s life, which is essentially an “estrogen bath,” can be a time of fibroid growth.
“Waiting it out” until menopause for fibroids to shrink may result in years of growth and worsening symptoms of pain and bleeding. If you’re suffering from fibroids and approaching menopause, the best time to treat your fibroids may be now.
There is a minimally invasive, 90% effective option: Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). This minimally invasive procedure shrinks the fibroids to provide relief and is 90 percent effective in reducing symptoms caused by fibroids. The interventional radiologists at Indiana Fibroid Center are dedicated to helping you find relief from your fibroid pain.