Millions of women across the world have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids – known clinically as uterine myoma or leiomyoma – are benign nodules of muscle and other hardened tissue that grow on the uterus. They are found on the outer walls, the inner walls, and even within the uterus itself. While these tumors are benign, they can still cause potentially serious health issues in the women affected by them. These fibroids typically appear in premenopausal women between the ages of 40-50, which is when many experience symptoms.
If you are diagnosed with fibroids, you may be wondering what you can do to minimize any effects or symptoms you experience. For many, lifestyle choices include the consumption of alcohol on a semi-regular occurrence. Does alcohol affect fibroids? You may have heard that mixing alcohol and uterine fibroids is a bad combination – but how and why? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
Does Alcohol Cause Fibroids?
What is the connection between alcohol and fibroids? To date, the scientific cause of uterine fibroids remains unknown. There are, however, many risk factors that can contribute to their formation in the body. Some of these include genetic risks including a family history of fibroids, increased overproduction of female hormones (like estrogen), and early menstruation (often before the age of 13). There are also a variety of known lifestyle factors that may play a keen part in the formation and growth of uterine fibroids.
One factor that comes up regularly in most guidelines is alcohol. But does alcohol affect fibroids?
Alcohol consumption is a popular habit worldwide, though it often comes with elevated risk factors for certain medical ailments. When it comes to alcohol and uterine fibroids, the truth is a little bit tricky. Early studies suggested that women who drink alcohol have a higher prevalence of uterine fibroids, indicating that alcohol might be a risk factor. However, these studies would not establish a definitive link between the consumption of alcohol and fibroid formation.
Newer studies with more data (and re-examining old studies) suggest that there is no known association between alcohol and uterine fibroid risk. That means that, given what we know now, we cannot say that drinking alcohol causes fibroids. However, there is evidence to suggest that long-term alcohol consumption may play a very slight role in the total risk of fibroid development. Overall, these studies are very limited so new evidence may increase our knowledge about fibroids and their underlying causes.
Additionally, that doesn’t answer the main question – does alcohol affect fibroids? That is not to say that alcohol consumption does not affect the growth or symptoms associated with uterine fibroids.
Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Fibroids?
As stated above, many lifestyle factors may affect fibroids. Women with fibroids are cautioned against drinking alcohol. It’s well repeated that alcohol and fibroids don’t mix. If alcohol hasn’t been proven to cause fibroids, why would drinking be an issue? Well, let’s break down the connection between alcohol and fibroids and how alcohol consumption possibly makes some common symptoms worst.
Alcohol intake has been associated with higher levels of estrogen production in premenopausal women. Specifically, alcohol can raise the levels of estradiol and estrone. Based on current research, uterine fibroid formation is linked to estrogen levels in the body. When higher levels of estrogen are introduced to the system (typically during the premenopausal years), we often see women develop fibroids. So how does alcohol affect fibroids already present in the body?
Most of that comes down to the other effects alcohol has on the body.
- Many women report increased fibroid pain after consuming alcohol. This is likely due to two major factors: the risk of increased inflammation and dehydration.
- Alcohol consumption may have a long-term effect on our immune systems. Because it can affect the production of certain hormones in our bodies, it may decrease the production of natural anti-inflammatories. For women with fibroids, this may include increased inflammation in these areas. That inflammation causes pain and often the feeling of fullness in your lower abdomen.
- Dehydration is a known symptom of uterine fibroid formation. It is also a side-effect of alcohol consumption. Dehydration can lead to bloating, constipation, and anemia in women with fibroids. This may be the most obvious cause of discomfort after drinking. Dehydration also increases inflammation, further exacerbating pain and discomfort caused by fibroids.
So does alcohol affect fibroids?
Yes! Drinking alcohol can increase the severity and duration of common fibroid symptoms. In short, cutting back on drinking alcohol may help you manage some of the worst fibroid symptoms!
Managing Alcohol and Uterine Fibroids
Some women who develop fibroids experience very few symptoms throughout their lifetime. However, it’s not uncommon for premenopausal women to experience severe and chronic symptoms that cause pain and discomfort.
Managing uterine fibroids isn’t easy. It often takes a lot of trial and error to find what works best for you. Making changes in your diet and overall lifestyle can help decrease the negative effects caused by fibroids. With alcohol and fibroids, decreasing overall alcohol consumption could help you if you experience pain or discomfort. It cannot, unfortunately, make existing fibroids disappear.
However, those changes may not be the only path forward. At Viva Eve, our multi-specialty clinical team specializes in the lifelong health of every woman and provides our patients with a comprehensive plan for managing health and wellbeing. If you would like to discuss long-term treatment options for your fibroids, schedule a consultation with us today.