Millions of women across the country are affected by uterine fibroids – benign tumors that develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. These tumors can cause a myriad of health issues, including painful periods and excessively heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. A number of effectve treatments for fibroids are available. Some patients may elect to use birth control as a means of controlling their fibroid-related symptoms. This article will explore the facts behind uterine fibroids and birth control and discuss how the two interact.
Birth Control Pills and Fibroids
When discussing birth control and fibroids, the two types of birth control pills that are the most widely used are combination birth control pills (also known as traditional pills) and progestin only pills. The difference between the two is that combined oral contraceptives contain the hormones estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone), whereas the progestin only pill contains only progestin.
The pill works by introducing different hormones into your system to stop ovulation and prevent pregnancy. However, as a byproduct, it can also affect your menstrual cycle. Many women on the pill experience milder, more tolerable periods. Because of this, many women believe that taking birth control pills is an effective way to treat many medical conditions. However, birth control pills and fibroids can interact in potentially harmful ways.
The Connection Between Estrogen and Fibroids
Although it’s unknown exactly what causes fibroids, there are genetic, hormonal, and biological factors that have been shown to contribute to the development and growth of fibroids. The relationship between fibroids and the hormone estrogen isn’t fully understood, but evidence suggests that fibroids are stimulated by estrogen, which is why introducing extra estrogen into the body isn’t recommended by fibroid specialists.
When evaluating the connection between fibroids and estrogen, clinical studies have found that when high levels of these female hormones are introduced into the system, fibroids grow. When estrogen is repressed, such as with fibroid hormone treatment or after menopause, fibroids shrink. The function of estrogen is to stimulate the development of the lining of the uterus each menstrual cycle in preparation for pregnancy. Doctors suspect that fibroid cells are also stimulated similarly. Based on the all the data available, fibroids are largely considered estrogen dependent.
Masking the Symptoms
While birth control pills can help make periods lighter and milder, its use can inadvertently worsen the root of your fibroid issues. Actress Gabrielle Union, who was put on birth control to treat her heavy bleeding and painful periods, went undiagnosed as having adenomyosis for years. Looking back, Union describes the birth control she was prescribed as a patch for what was really going on with her health. “The pill can mask all kinds of things. It is amazing at preventing pregnancy; not so great with addressing adenomyosis.” Bottom line? Combining birth control pills and fibroids might not be such a good idea.
Visit a Fibroid Specialist for In-Depth Care
Birth control may help lessen symptoms but the fibroids still remain. While birth control may work as a short-term option to control the symptoms, there are solutions to properly address the fibroids that work long-term. At Viva Eve, our multi-specialty clinical team specializes in the lifelong health of every woman and provides our patients a comprehensive plan from fibroid to routine Ob/Gyn care.
Our Ob/Gyns and fibroid specialists will guide you from diagnosis through treatment, and can discuss with you the considerations you should make regarding birth control and fibroids. They will also educate you on nonsurgical treatment options such as uterine fibroid embolization. Our evaluations and treatments are based on thorough examinations plus evaluating each woman’s medical history. For a better women’s health experience, turn to Viva Eve.