Both polycystic ovaries and uterine fibroids are conditions that cause growths to form in or on the female reproductive organs and to all intent and purpose they appear similar. Both conditions have the ability to cause pelvic pain, disrupt menstrual cycles and can affect fertility. Moreover, both conditions have also been linked to hormone imbalances. So the question is… If they appear the same, cause the same type of problems and are affected by the same conditions, then is there a definitive connection?
Let’s take a closer look…
First of all, who is susceptible?
The onset of fibroids is thought to be (in part) triggered by high levels of the female hormone estrogen. When estrogen rises, fibroids can appear and grow in the uterus. The most likely time for this to occur is right before menopause when estrogen levels can spike.
Conversely, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS tends to occur in women of childbearing years (primarily those in their 20’s and 30’s). When a woman experiences an overproduction of androgens it affects the ovaries ability to released eggs normally. The ovaries respond by developing non-cancerous cysts.
What about risk factors?
Some of the risk factors that can trigger the onset of uterine fibroids include:
- Ethnicity – Research shows that black women run a higher risk of developing the condition – some figures suggest that up to 80% of all black women will develop fibroids while that figure is closer to 70% in white women.
- Genetics – Previous cases of fibroids in the family are thought to increase risk factors
- Obesity – Fibroids can also be linked to obesity. Overweight people who live a sedentary lifestyle are more at risk than those of normal weight who eat a healthy balanced diet
- Menstruation at an early age – Those women who experience their first period at an early age are more likely to develop uterine fibroids later in life.
And the risk factors that can trigger PCOS include:
- High levels of androgen – according to studies, about 10% of young women who produce higher levels of androgen than normal, tend to develop Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
- Higher insulin production – A condition known as hyperinsulinemia (thought to be linked to obesity) can be a significant contributing factor in women developing PCOS.
- Genetically linked – A history of PCOS in the family can also be a cause for concern.
As you can see, some of the risk factors for uterine fibroids and PCOS are similar in nature, so the question is…
Are women with one condition likely to develop the other?
The consensus of opinion is no! While both conditions are linked by issues such as hormone imbalance and can cause symptoms that are similar in nature, they are separate medical issues and should be treated as such. However, a six-year study carried out by the Boston University Slone Epidemiology Center is challenging that fact.
In the study, data was collected on 23,000 African American Women. It was noted that in women who already had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, instances of uterine fibroids were 65% higher than in those without.
One theory could be that when androgen production is higher than normal, the body automatically counteracts this by raising estrogen levels in response. Of course, when estrogen levels are raised, then so too is the risk of developing uterine fibroids.
Although there is no clear and concise evidence to support this claim, it does seem that the link between PCOS and uterine fibroids may be closer than some experts think.
If you are experiencing abnormal periods, fertility issues, or pelvic pain then uterine fibroids or PCOS could well be the cause. With this in mind, it pays to get a medical assessment from a physician who specializes in these fields.
Dr Akinwande is a well-published highly skilled physician who has successfully treated many women using state-of-the-art, non-invasive fibroid procedures. Experience fibroid relief without complex surgery today and call Dr A at the Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy (MINT) today to book a consultation.