WHAT ARE FIBROIDS?
Fibroids are a painful condition that can occur in women of any age. They are more common in menstruating women who have higher amounts of estrogen.
Fibroids are tumorous growths that occur on the uterus. They can cause complications in pregnancy and they can be a cause of infertility, miscarriage and heavy periods. They are the number one reason for having a hysterectomy.
The uterus has muscular tissue and fibrous tissue. The muscular tissue acts just the same as muscles all over your body, it contracts, stretches and relaxes.
The uterus stretches as a baby develops and then contracts to expel the baby.
The uterine muscular tissues needs fibrous tissue to support it.
Fibroids develop when particles of fibrous tissue begin to grow in the muscular tissue.
TYPES OF UTERINE FIBROIDS
SUBMUCOSAL: grow in the innermost layer of the uterus
INTRAMURAL: grow in the middle layer of the uterus
SUBSEROSAL: grow in the outer wall of the uterus
PEDUNCULATED: attached to a stalk either outside of the uterus or within the uterine cavity
CERVICAL: in the cervical tissue
INTERLIGAMENTOUS: between the uterine broad ligaments
WHY DO FIBROIDS GET SO BIG?
Uterine fibroids are dependent on Estrogen. Fibroid tissue has a higher amount of estrogen than progesterone receptor sites. Fibroid tissue is very sensitive to estrogen, and does not have the ability to regulate estrogen very well, so this is why they can grow to become quite large.
HOW DO FIBROIDS AFFECT FERTILITY AND PREGNANCY?
- They interfere with implantation
- Compress the fallopian tubes, preventing conception
- Abnormal uterine blood flow and preventing sperm from fertilising an egg
- Risk of Miscarriage
- Contribute to have problems expelling the placenta after birth
- Risk of a postpartum hemorrhage
- Risk of an abnormal labour
Not all women with fibroids will experience these problems and many go on to have healthy pregnancies even with fibroids present.
It would be better to work on reducing fibroid growth and formation of new fibroids growing, because of the risks to fertility and pregnancy problems.
LIFETIME EXPOSURE TO ESTROGEN
There are many factors that increase a woman’s lifetime exposure to estrogen, and this exposure can contribute to the development of uterine fibroids. Here are some of the factors:
The longer a woman has her menstrual cycle, the longer estrogen levels are elevated.
Many women today are restricting how many children they are having or are not having children at all and this can increase more exposure to estrogen
Body fat produces and stores estrogen; so the more body fat a woman has, the more estrogen she will have
Xenoestrogens are found in plastics, pesticides, herbicides, synthetic hormones in both meat and dairy products, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) including the birth control pill which contains synthetic estrogen
You have poor estrogen metabolism. Some women have a harder time with removing and metabolising excess estrogen
ESTROGEN - PROGESTERONE BALANCE
Progesterone in your body will stop estrogen from building the uterine wall and will start your period.
Progesterone blocks estrogen receptors in various organs throughout your body, which reduces the impact of estrogen. Progesterone also prevents estrogen from causing too much cell growth in the breast or the uterus.
Estrogen and progesterone can be thrown off balance by the following:
- Birth control pills (even the ones with progesterone because it is synthetic)
- Unbalanced bioidentical hormone replacement therapy
- Synthetic hormones (HRT)
- High alcohol intake
- High sugar diet
- High carbohydrate diet
- Conventional meat and dairy with hormones
- Food high with phytoestrogens such as soy
- Digestive issues (sometimes caused by unidentified food sensitivities)
- Poor gut microflora
SYMPTOMS OF FIBROIDS
The majority of women do not know they have fibroids, as there will probably be no symptoms. There are some women that will experience symptoms in the presence of fibroids, and these are:
- A sensation of fullness or pressure in the abdominal area
- Heavier than normal menstrual bleeding
- Stronger than normal menstrual pains
- Periods that lasts longer than a week
- Bleeding in between periods
- Constant pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination and trouble fully emptying the bladder
- Painful bowel movements
- Lower back pain
- Pain during sex
Heavy bleeding is caused because of the presence of the fibroids. The uterus cannot contract properly because the fibroids are in the way and so cannot control the bleeding. Bleeding can go on for weeks or even months. You are then at risk of developing iron deficiency and anaemia. It is important to get regular checks with a doctor for iron levels and risk of anaemia.
MEDICAL OPTIONS FOR TREATMENT OF FIBROIDS
A myomectomy can help to remove the existing fibroids that you have, but it will not prevent the tumours from growing back. This method of uterine fibroid removal is the best of the two surgery choices for women that want to get pregnant.
This surgical procedure removes the uterus completely and it can guarantee that fibroids will not grow back. There are many other side effects that can occur from a hysterectomy including early menopause, an increased risk of osteoporosis and the inability to get pregnant.
This method of treatment has proven to be effective at shrinking fibroids or destroying them completely, however, it is not without side effects. This treatment should not be used if you want to get pregnant. It is known to throw the body into early menopause and can cause infertility.
Medical procedures do not stop fibroids from growing back. Only diet and lifestyle factors would be able to support your body in preventing regrowth.
WHAT HAPPENS TO FIBROIDS POST MENOPAUSE?
Post menopause, fibroids will stop growing, the heavy bleeding will stop because your periods have stopped, you won’t get pelvic pain anymore because the uterus stops contracting, you can still experience pelvic pain because the fibroids are still there. Fibroids do not shrink post menopause.
NATURAL OPTIONS FOR FIBROIDS
To help with controlling fibroids, you need to look at cleansing and reducing exposure to xenoestrogens, promote good healthy estrogen metabolism and improve uterine health.
Work on ways to improve your liver health so you can properly metabolise hormones and increase circulation to your uterus.
AVOID XENO ESTROGENS
Eat organic foods
Avoid exposure to pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilisers
Use natural toiletries and makeup
Avoid food preservatives and artificial ingredients
Avoid plastics (BPA)
Drink clean filtered water
Avoid cooking with aluminium and non stick pans
REDUCING FIBROIDS WITH DIET
Eat more whole foods.
When you can eat lots of fresh foods and less processed sugar foods, this will set up the building blocks your body needs to stay healthy.
FIBRE IS IMPORTANT
Fibre helps your body to get rid of excess estrogens.
Include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables – dark leafy greens, broccoli, Swiss chard, quinoa, chia seeds, beans, ground flaxseed, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, oats.
AVOID ANTI NUTRIENTS
Avoid saturated fats, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods, which can contribute to estrogen dominance.
DANDELION ROOT AND LEAF
This plant provides excellent liver support for improved hormonal balance. Dandelion leaf is very nourishing to the body and is high in vitamins and minerals. The root helps nourish the liver and stimulates digestion for improved estrogen metabolism.
Ginger root can help to increase circulation and promote blood flow to the uterus. The increased circulation also helps to reduce inflammation of the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes.
BLACK COHOSH ROOT
This root promotes regulation of the menstrual cycle. If the uterus feels inflamed or irritated throughout the month, Black cohosh can be an effective to relax the uterus and reduce inflammation.
RED RASPBERRY LEAF
Raspberry leaf is a great uterine tonic. It works to tone the uterine muscles and normalise blood flow during menstruation. It is one of the best herbs to normalise the female reproductive organs.
Raspberry leaf is astringent, contracting and shrinking internal and external body tissues. It may help prevent hemorrhage due to excessive bleeding.