Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that affect many women throughout their lifetime. Fibroids can develop in several different places in or on the uterus, and will be classified as as subserosal, intramural, or submucosal depending on where they develop. While no one knows exactly why these tumors develop, most doctors agree that their growth can be affected by the presence of estrogen, which may be why many women’s fibroids grow and develop during pregnancy. Because estrogen likely affects fibroid development, many women will wonder how taking birth control will impact their fibroid growth and development. Here are four things women with fibroids should know about their birth control:
Your Periods Will Probably get Lighter
A common side effect of fibroids is long, heavy periods; using birth control pills may help manage this symptom. Birth control typically gives women lighter, shorter periods because the estrogen in the medications can help improve blood clotting and reduce your menstrual flow.
You May Have Fewer Cramps
Pelvic pain and cramps are another typical fibroid side effect—and these cramps can be quite severe for women dealing with these tumors. Many women on birth control pills experience cramping relief because the medications can decrease a woman’s prostaglandin count (prostaglandins make the uterus contract, leading to cramps.)
Your Fibroids Could Get Bigger
While taking birth control may help you manage certain side effects of fibroids, there’s a caveat: fibroids are very responsive to estrogen, which means that taking birth control can actually make your tumors grow larger. For this reason, you’ll need to discuss your options with your doctors carefully. A larger fibroid tumor may cause you to experience a worsening of symptoms, canceling out the temporary relief delivered by the estrogen in your birth control pills.
Birth Control Can Help Prevent Fibroids
If you already have uterine fibroids, taking birth control could make your tumors increase in size. But if you haven’t yet been diagnosed, certain birth controls (especially those with lower doses of estrogen) may reduce your fibroid risk!
Choosing the right birth control when you have fibroids can be complicated, so it’s crucial to review all your options with your fibroid specialist. Feel free to reach out to Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee to schedule a consultation on all your fibroid treatment options.