Depression may be linked to fibroid symptoms — and vice versa. While researchers try to figure out the exact nature of the connection, fibroid sufferers should understand their risk.
Fibroids symptoms can understandably affect mood
It’s easy to understand how women with fibroid symptoms might get depressed.
Heavy, painful periods can leave a woman feeling physically unwell. Pain during sex or loss of libido can affect her relationships with her partner. Pelvic pressure may make it necessary to run to the bathroom all day long. The need to go to the bathroom can also disrupt sleep, and lack of sleep can contribute to fatigue. Many of the different symptoms might prevent a woman from exercising or engaging in activities she once enjoyed.
And any or all of the pain or discomfort may prevent a woman from normal activity and diminish her quality of life. This can exact a psychological toll and even affect a woman’s self-esteem.
In addition, studies indicate a deeper depression-fibroid link though it’s still unclear whether depression or fibroids comes first.
Depression might be a fibroid risk factor
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2012 and conducted by a research team from Boston University indicates that depression may be a risk factor for developing fibroids.
This study examined almost 16,000 African-American women who were part of a Black Women’s Health Study. The Boston team gave each woman a survey (based on the depression scale from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies) to ascertain their symptoms of and risk for depression.
The women took a follow-up survey every other year for the next 12 years. These follow-ups asked whether or not they had been:
- Diagnosed with fibroids
- Diagnosed as being depressed
- Or were being treated for depression
- If they were being treated, what type of treatment were they receiving
Out of the almost 16,000 women surveyed, 4,722 of them were diagnosed with fibroids during the course of the study. What researchers found was that the women who were at a greater risk of depression were also more likely to develop uterine fibroids.
Emotions and hormones
One theory regarding the link between depression and fibroids lies with the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. This axis helps to regulate the body’s internal communication system. In particular, it controls how a person responds to his or her emotions and, especially, stress.
If the HPA axis ceases to function smoothly, the person can experience intensified emotions, particularly in response to stress. These emotions may lead to depression. In addition, depression has been shown to change hormone levels which play a role in the development and growth of fibroids.
Depression and menopause
The many changes that occur in a woman’s body when she undergoes perimenopause (a prime time for fibroid growth) and menopause may also contribute to depression. In particular, it is affected by unpredictable hormone fluctuations, grief over the loss of fertility, along with the physical symptoms of menopause.
VIVA EVE can help alleviate the symptoms of fibroids
There is still much to be researched on the subject. That said, treating the fibroids can alleviate the pain and discomfort that affects your mood. The doctors at VIVA EVE have years of experience in the treatment of both uterine fibroids and adenomyosis through uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). We provide high-quality, personalized care for each and every patient we see. We will partner with you to determine the best way to treat you.