Reduce your risk of uterine fibroids and manage symptoms

The foods you eat and living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of uterine fibroids and help manage your symptoms.

Uterine fibroids are very common noncancerous tumors that develop in the muscle of the uterus. The symptoms they cause — heavy vaginal bleeding, abdominal bloating, pelvic pain or pressure — can affect the quality of a woman's life.

Sometimes, the only way to treat fibroids is with medicine or surgery. However, some healthy lifestyle choices may decrease your risk of developing fibroids and help manage your symptoms.

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables

Eating healthy food is always a good idea. Fruits and vegetables are full of phytochemicals and nutrients that help your body function better and keep you healthy.

There is evidence showing that women who eat a diet that's low in fruits and vegetables have an increased risk of developing fibroids. Eating a diet that's high in berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, may lower the risk of developing fibroids.

There is also evidence that shows women who are deficient in vitamin D have a higher chance of developing uterine fibroids. Talk with your health care provider about having a blood test that will determine your level of vitamin D.

Eat iron-rich foods. But reduce red meat.

Uterine fibroids can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, which may reduce your stores of iron. Women ages 19 to 50 need about 18 milligrams of iron daily. Aim to get your iron intake by eating iron-rich foods like:

  • Lean meat, seafood and poultry
  • Iron-fortified breakfast cereals and breads
  • White beans, lentils, spinach, leafy greens, kidney beans and peas
  • Nuts and some dried fruits, like raisins

Keep in mind that consuming large amounts of red meat (beef) and ham is linked with a higher risk of fibroids. Consider reducing your intake of red meat, and opt for chicken, turkey and fish instead.

Cut back or avoid alcohol

Drinking any type of alcohol increases your risk of developing uterine fibroids. In one study, researchers found that women who drink a beer a day or more increased their risks of developing uterine fibroids by more than 50%.

Stay hydrated

A heavy period causes the body to lose a lot of water. This might make you dehydrated — which can cause a headache, make you feel tired and other unpleasant symptoms. Staying hydrated when you're on your period (and off it) can help bolster your energy levels and keep your body functioning properly.

The best way to check if you're hydrated is to look at the color of your urine. Light-colored or pale urine means that you're hydrated. If your urine is a darker color, it's a sign that you need to increase your fluid intake.

Be physically active

Being physically active benefits the body and mind in many ways. Women who exercise regularly tend to have fewer or less severe PMS symptoms and a lower incidence of uterine fibroids. Plus, physical activity may help reduce pain and manage your stress levels.

It's generally safe to exercise with fibroids. But sometimes fibroids can interfere with your ability to exercise, depending on where they are located. Walking, light jogging, biking, swimming and other cardiovascular activities can help you maintain or reach a healthy weight. Yoga or Pilates can help strengthen and stretch your body.

Maintain a healthy weight

Research shows that women who are overweight have a higher risk of developing uterine fibroids. Some studies indicate that obese women have two to three times the risk of developing fibroids.

Get enough sleep

Fatigue is a common side effect of heavy menstrual bleeding. Pain and frequently changing menstrual pads or tampons can make it difficult to fall sleep or stay asleep. Do your body a favor and rest or sleep if you feel drained. If you're having trouble sleeping, feel lightheaded or are constantly tired, talk with your doctor about possible solutions.

May 27, 2021 See more In-depth