What causes uterine fibroids?

We don’t know what causes uterine fibroids. Evidence suggests that multiple factors play a role in their growth.

Although exact causes are unknown, research evidence suggests that any or all of these factors might play a role in the growth of uterine fibroids:1

  • Genetics (e.g., genetic mutations in the MED12, HMGA2, COL4A5/COL4A6, or FH genes)
  • Estrogen and progesterone
  • Growth hormones
  • Micronutrients, such as iron, that the body needs only small amounts of in the blood.2 For instance, a deficiency of vitamin D may be associated with uterine fibroids.3
  • Major stresses4,5

It is likely that fibroids are caused by many factors interacting with one another. Once we know the cause or causes of fibroids, our efforts to find a cure or even prevent fibroids could move ahead more quickly.


  1. Segars, J. H., Parrott, E. C., Nagel, J. D., Guo, X. C., Gao, X., Birnbaum, L. S., et al. (2014). Proceedings from the Third National Institutes of Health International Congress on Advances in Uterine Leiomyoma Research: Comprehensive review, conference summary and future recommendations. Human Reproduction Update, 20(3), 309–333. Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3999378/
  2. Martin, C. L., Huber, L. R., Thompson, M. E., & Racine, E. F. (2011). Serum micronutrient concentrations and risk of uterine fibroids. Journal of Women's Health, 20(6), 915–922. Retrieved June 13, 2017, from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jwh.2009.1782 external link
  3. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2012). Vitamin D shrinks fibroid tumors in rats. Retrieved June 13, 2017, from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/Pages/030112-vitaminD-fibroids.aspx
  4. Baird, D., & Wise, L. (2011). Childhood abuse and fibroids. Epidemiology, 22(1), 15–17. Retrieved June 13, 2017, from http://journals.lww.com/epidem/Citation/2011/01000/Childhood_Abuse_and_Fibroids.3.aspx external link
  5. Vines, A. I., Ta, M., & Esserman, D. A. (2010). The association between self-reported major life events and the presence of uterine fibroids. Women's Health Issues, 20(4), 294–298. Retrieved June 13, 2017, from http://www.whijournal.com/article/S1049-3867(10)00041-1/abstract external link
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