Yes, Uterine Fibroids Can Cause Weight Gain — Here’s What You Can Do About It

Uterine fibroids, though usually non-cancerous, have a profound impact on a your body. They can cause pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and weight gain in the abdomen. For many people, noticing an unexpected increase in weight can be puzzling and distressing, particularly when the scale seems to climb without a clear reason. The relationship between uterine fibroids and weight gain is complex, rooted in the physical presence of these benign tumors, which can grow as large as a melon, or even a basketball, according to Dr. Mache Seibel, a board-certified gynecologist and expert in reproductive medicine.

“These fibroids can grow to 25 pounds in size and make the uterus as big as if the woman were 20 weeks pregnant or even more,” he tells SheKnows. This excess weight can exacerbate feelings of fatigue and discomfort, leading many women to reduce their physical activity, thereby setting a vicious cycle of weight gain in motion and making patients feel heavier and less inclined to maintain an active lifestyle. In this article, we’ll explore how uterine fibroids can contribute to weight gain, causing bloating and an increase in abdominal girth, and most importantly, what you can do about it.

First, let’s understand uterine fibroids

Dr. Seibel describes uterine fibroids as a swirl of smooth muscle that are located within the muscle fiber of the uterus. “In other words, the uterus is a muscle, and if you think of it analogously, it’s like a knot in a pine tree.” Uterine fibroids can be on the surface, in the actual wall of the uterus, or on the inside so that is impacting on the lining of the uterus. He adds that uterine fibroids are extremely common. He estimates that about 40 percent of premenopausal people with uteruses have fibroids, and that number increasing in the Black community; other experts put the range between 40 and 80 percent, per the Cleveland Clinic.

What are symptoms of uterine fibroids?

People with smaller uterine fibroids may be asymptomatic, but those with larger fibroids could experience pain during sex, fatigue, and fibroid belly. Dr. Seibel also notes that symptoms are dependent on the location of the fibroid. The uterus is situated above the vagina, behind the bladder and in front of the rectum.

“So, if the fibroid is on the front of the uterus, it can cause the uterus to grow towards the bladder and put pressure on the bladder, which can lead to an increase in urinary frequency. If the fibroid is in the back, it can put pressure on the rectum and cause difficulty with bowel movements, or constipation. If it’s all the way down in the lining of the uterus, then there may be intermenstrual bleeding.”

How do uterine fibroids cause weight gain? What is fibroid belly?

When they are small or first developing, uterine fibroids shouldn’t make you gain weight, and you might not even initially notice them. However, when they are left to grow, that is when weight gain and bloating can occur from the growth of that “benign tumor itself,” says Dr. Seibel. “It’s not a cancer, but it is a tumor, which, as mentioned, can get quite big.” For certain types of uterine fibroids such as pedunculated fibroids, they grow on a stalk that attaches them to the uterus. “As a result, they can twist and can lead to pain, but the actual weight gain is a function of the mass of the fibroid,” Dr. Seibel adds.

What can I do about this?

Nutrition and diet can be helpful in trying to minimize the size of fibroids. Dr. Seibel suggests eating a natural-based diet with whole grains and vegetables to try and limit growth. “Some studies also suggest some of the elements in green tea can help to limit growth, but fundamentally, you’re talking about something that needs to be addressed, either surgically by removing the fibroid, or the uterus through a hysterectomy.”

There are an array of treatment options for uterine fibroids and their subsequent weight, but before you make your decision, talk to your healthcare provider about about what will work best for you as they will also take into consideration your wishes for future pregnancies, your desire for surgery, and the size of the fibroid.

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