If You Have Fibroids, Is Waiting Until Menopause Worth It?
We at the Fibroid Treatment Collective, observed an interesting phenomenon in the late 1990’s five years after we introduced uterine artery embolization (UAE) to the U.S. in 1994. Women who had been our fibroid patients in the past returned in their early 50s for the UAE treatment. We were curious why they waited exclusively for a UAE, so we asked about it. They all had the same story. They first came to us in their late 40s, and thought that UAE was an excellent procedure, but they were convinced that menopause would shrink the fibroids. However, almost every patient returned during menopause with bigger fibroids.
Why is this?
For years doctors would tell their patients that the fibroids would shrink after the change of life. But few patients with fibroids made it to menopause because they ended up undergoing a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) instead. We believe it’s because there’s an unknown substance secreted by fat cells that mimic the effect of estrogen on fibroids. It makes them grow. So does estrogen replacement therapy.
What’s the take-home message, then?
The best time to treat fibroids that are causing symptoms is now. If you’re in your late 40s you are also in what amounts to an “estrogen bath.” 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. We know that fibroids are estrogen sensitive. This period in a woman’s life is almost always a growth spurt for fibroids. Waiting for “a few years” for fibroids to shrink during menopause is likely to result in a few more years of growth and worsening symptoms of pain and bleeding instead. Food for thought!
Still, have questions? We can help.
If you think you have fibroids, schedule an appointment for a professional diagnosis. One of our gynecologists will talk to you about your symptoms and perform a pelvic exam. We may order further testing including an imaging procedure such as an ultrasound. If diagnosed, uterine fibroid embolization may be your best treatment option; it has a 95% success rate with patients. Here at the Fibroid Treatment Collective, we offer free consultations in-office or over the phone. For more information on fibroids and their symptoms, feel free to contact us at 1 (866) 479-1523 or request a free consultation online.