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Are Diabetic Women More At Risk for Fibroids?

October 28,2022

Did you know that 37.3 million Americans—about 1 in 10—have diabetes which can lead to other health conditions?  Each year, the National Diabetes Association has a November campaign geared to increase awareness about early warning signs. If you have diabetes, you might wonder if this puts you more at risk for developing uterine fibroids.   

Several studies have explored the potential link between insulin resistance, a condition where your pancreas isn’t processing blood glucose sugar levels correctly, metabolic syndrome, and uterine fibroids.1  

Metabolic syndrome includes factors such as  

  • Increased blood pressure 
  • High blood sugar 
  • Excess body fat around the waist 
  • High cholesterol or triglyceride levels 

Although uterine fibroids are not in this group, women with diabetes may be predisposed to fibroid disease.  

What is Diabetes?  

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder in which your body either doesn’t produce insulin, type 1, or your body is resistant to insulin, type 2. Insulin is one of the naturally occurring hormones secreted by your pancreas. Insulin allows your body to metabolize glucose into energy. When your body does not have enough insulin or doesn’t respond to the insulin it does produce; the result is high blood sugar or hyperglycemia.  

Sustained hyperglycemia can lead to health issues such as degraded sight, kidney failure, and venous insufficiency. People with diabetes are also more at risk for skin ulcers and amputation of the limbs.   

What Are Fibroids?  

Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are non-cancerous tumors that are made up of smooth muscle cells and fibroid connective tissue. These growths develop within the uterine wall or on its exterior. They range in size from microscopic and can grow to be as large as a melon. The tumors can present in clusters, individual growths of varying sizes, or as a singular tumor.   

It’s important to know the symptoms that indicate you might have fibroids, as many women are unaware that these signs may mean something is wrong.  

Fibroid Symptoms

Is There A Connection Between Diabetes and Fibroids?  
 
Researchers believe that both estrogen and progesterone may stimulate fibroids.1 Although it is not well understood how these hormones influence tumor growth, it’s thought to be, in part, influenced by these growth factors. 
 
A recent study explored the relationship between insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-I) and its role in the development of fibroids. While the study did not reach a conclusion that pinpointed a connection between diabetes and fibroid disease, it noted that both conditions share some of the same risk factors, such as obesity, family history, and age.   
Diabetes may conceal the presence of fibroids because it alters hormone levels and raises blood sugar levels. Diabetes can cause lengthy, heavy, irregular menstrual cycles and exhaustion. These are also signs of fibroids. 
 
If you are living with or are at risk for diabetes, it is vital to pay attention to your body and note when something is amiss. Inform your doctor if you experience new or troubling symptoms. Make sure you note the slightest change so that you can give a detailed report to your healthcare provider. 
 
Diabetic Risk Factors    
 
There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, once called juvenile diabetes, is usually diagnosed earlier in life, although it can occur at any age. The American Diabetes Association recommends starting routine screening from the age of 45. 
 
Type 1 diabetes is believed to be triggered by an autoimmune response that causes the body to stop producing or creating enough insulin. It is referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes because it requires injecting insulin.  
 
Type 2 diabetes can also develop at any age, although people 45 and up have the greatest likelihood of contracting the disease. The risk factors for diabetes include genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, and high BMI (body mass index). 
  
Does Diabetes Impact Reproduction?  
 
There have been several studies exploring the connection between diabetes and reproduction. Diabetes can delay menstruation and affect fertility as well as pregnancy viability. Women with type 1 diabetes often have amenorrhea or a lack of menstruation. Fortunately, advances in insulin therapy have made these conditions more manageable.2  
  
Steps You Can Take To Improve Your Period Health 
 
Despite the lack of evidence connecting diabetes with fibroids, it is important to be informed to successfully advocate for your health. Diabetes can cause lengthy, heavy, and irregular menstrual cycles that can lead to anemia and exhaustion. These are also symptoms of fibroids.   
 
If you are living with diabetes, it is vital to pay attention to your body and note when something is amiss. Inform your doctor if you experience new or troubling symptoms.  
 
Make sure you note the slightest change so that you can give a detailed report to your healthcare provider. Your doctor can provide a firm diagnosis with a pelvic exam and an ultrasound. Could your diabetes be masking fibroid symptoms?  
  
Take our one-minute symptom checker to learn if you are suffering from fibroids here.   
  
What To Do If You Suspect You Have Uterine Fibroids  
 
It is crucial to inform your doctor if you are experiencing irregular periods, urgency in the bathroom, or weariness. Do not ignore these common symptoms of fibroids, no matter how small. Please do not wait for more serious issues, act now to stop them in their tracks.   
 
If you experience fibroid symptoms, talk to your doctor about your health. 

Fibroid specialists can accurately diagnose your illness and pinpoint fibroid tumors using image-guided technologies such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 
 
Planning how to manage your fibroids and researching your options for treatment are the next steps, particularly if your fibroid symptoms become more debilitating.  
 
You may be interested in learning more about an effective option called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). It is a minimally invasive procedure that treats all uterine fibroids simultaneously and relieves uncomfortable symptoms. UFE is done in the office and doesn’t require a hospital stay. Since it is not surgery, the recovery time is much shorter. You can resume normal activities in days, not months.   
  
Fibroid Fighters works to raise awareness about fibroids and provide women with the information they need to make important decisions about their health.  
 
 
Stay informed about fibroids, and subscribe to our newsletter. For more information, contact us conveniently online.  
 
 
 
References
[1] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2042018819895159  
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2856640/  

Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are non-cancerous tumors that are made up of smooth muscle cells and fibroid connective tissue. These growths develop within the uterine wall or on its exterior. They range in size from microscopic and can grow to be as large as a melon. The tumors can present in clusters, individual growths of varying sizes, or as a singular tumor.   

It’s important to know the symptoms that indicate you might have fibroids, as many women are unaware that these signs may mean something is wrong.  

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