In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our June 2012 issue, we asked Laura Corio, MD, WebMD's women's health expert, about the risk factors for fibroids.
Q : Several women in my family have fibroids. Does that mean I am at risk, too?
By Laura NathanDoubting your diagnosis? Read on to find out what you might really
Sometimes even the best doctors miss the mark: About 40 percent of all
mistakes that M.D.s make are misdiagnoses, says the National Patient Safety
Foundation. That's because many ailments have similar symptoms or can be
detected only with tests that your physician might consider unnecessary if he's
confident in his verdict. If you're in the know about often-confused
conditions, though, you can ask the right...
A: You may be. Fibroids, which grow in the muscle layers of the uterus and also on the cervix, are the most common pelvic tumors in women. About 80% of women develop at least one fibroid in the uterus by menopause.
Most fibroids don't cause problems. (Fewer than 0.5% are cancerous.) But depending on where they grow, fibroids may cause back pain, constipation, cramping, anemia, pain during sex, and heavy, long periods. They can also make it harder for a woman to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term.
Risk factors for fibroids do include family history, as well as race -- African-American women get fibroids more often, earlier, and more severely than white women. Other factors include having your first period before age 10, never giving birth, and having high blood pressure.
Visit your gynecologist yearly -- more often if you're having fibroid symptoms. Doctors can detect fibroids with a sonogram and remove them surgically. Some women take birth control pills to control heavy bleeding. After menopause, your fibroids will shrink on their own.