If your clothes are fitting a little tighter, you’re struggling to tone your tummy and you’ve put on a few pounds recently, you might not think that it’s due to uterine fibroids. Well unfortunately – although it’s not a well-known symptom – fibroids can indeed cause weight gain, especially around the stomach area. So if you haven’t changed your diet and you know for sure that you’re not pregnant, fibroids might just be the cause of your bloating.
Understanding exactly what fibroids are, determining whether they’re behind your weight gain and how to treat them is an important step to getting relief from your symptoms – so let’s take a closer look…
Fibroids typically affect women in their thirties and forties and are benign tumors that grow in the uterus. While that may sound serious, fibroids aren’t cancerous or life-threatening, they’re just uncomfortable and inconvenient. What’s more, these tissue growths can come in many sizes and numbers – you may have just one small uterine fibroid, a small cluster of fibroids or one large fibroid.
UCLA Health states that as many as 30-77% of women may develop fibroids at some point during their childbearing years. Yet despite widespread research, no specific cause has been found on why these growths develop. But what we do know is that they’re closely linked to estrogen and women who have higher levels of this hormone have a tendency to develop fibroids. It’s also thought that they could be hereditary too.
Fibroids, weight gain & bloating
So what’s the link between fibroids, bloating and weight gain? To put it simply, the bigger a fibroid grows, the heavier it becomes. As a result, some of these growths can weigh as much as 20-40 pounds, which can leave you feeling a little heavier too.
Although some fibroids can be very small, completely painless and symptomless, others grow large enough to cause swelling in the abdomen, to the point that it can sometimes be mistaken for pregnancy. Surges in estrogen – such as during pre-menopausal hormone swings or pregnancy – can cause a growth spurt for fibroids and lifestyle factors like stress and diet can also play a part.
Moreover, combined with other symptoms of fibroids such as discomfort, anxiety and fatigue, it can cause a cycle of craving for and overeating foods that have a higher calorie content. Symptoms can also lead to a reduction in the amount of exercise that’s usually enjoyed too, which is another factor that can lead to even more weight gain.
Aside from bloating and weight gain, fibroids that keep growing can put pressure on other organs, particularly the bowels. Some women experience frequent urination, blocked intestines, constipation and a feeling of fullness. On top of that, heavy bleeding during your period can lead to reduced iron levels which can cause anemia. This can leave you feeling lethargic and fatigued – and leads many women to comfort eat, which is another indirect way that fibroids can cause weight problems.
If it’s determined that your weight gain is due to fibroids, the good news is that there are a range of treatment options. Around 20-50% of women have symptoms, so if fibroids aren’t causing too much bother right now, it may be suggested to wait and see if they worsen before any treatment is carried out.
If treatment is necessary, possible options include medication to regulate the hormones, a hysterectomy or a non-surgical procedure called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). Here at MINT, we carry out this minimally invasive, low-trauma treatment that shrinks the size of fibroids and eliminates any symptoms such as bloating and weight gain, while still keeping the uterus intact.
Aside from treatment, while you may not be able to control or prevent the growth of fibroids, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly is really important for your overall health and could also help you to lose any extra weight gained because of fibroids.
If you’re experiencing unexpected weight gain and frequent bloating despite eating a healthy diet and following a good exercise routine, it could be time to point the finger at uterine fibroids. Contact MINT today on 314 255 2204 to learn more about how our UFE procedure can help.