What are the risk factors for uterine fibroids?

Fibroids usually grow in women of childbearing age, and research suggests that they may shrink after menopause. However, research also shows that they are more likely to shrink in postmenopausal white women than in postmenopausal black women. For African American women, fibroids typically develop at a younger age, grow larger, and cause more severe symptoms.1

Several factors may affect a woman’s risk for having uterine fibroids, including the following2,3:

  • Age (older women are at higher risk than younger women)
  • African American race
  • Obesity
  • Family history of uterine fibroids
  • High blood pressure
  • No history of pregnancy
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Food additive consumption
  • Use of soybean milk

Factors that may lower the risk of fibroids1,2,3:

  • Pregnancy (the risk decreases with an increasing number of pregnancies)
  • Long-term use of oral or injectable contraceptives


  1. Stewart, E. A. (2015). Uterine fibroids. New England Journal of Medicine, 372, 1646–1655. Retrieved October 25, 2018, from https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMcp1411029?page=&sort=oldest external link
  2. Stewart, E. A., Cookson, C. L., Gandolfo, R. A., & Schulzeâ€Rath, R. (2017). Epidemiology of uterine fibroids: A systematic review. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 124(10), 1501–1512. Retrieved July 30, 2018, from https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1471-0528.14640 external link
  3. Pavone, D., Clemenza, S., Sorbi, F., Fambrini, M., & Petraglia, F. (2018). Epidemiology and risk factors of uterine fibroids. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 46, 3–11. Retrieved July 30, 2018, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1521693417301372?via%3Dihub external link
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