What you will learn in this article:
- What fibroids are and what their root cause is.
- The connection between Estrogen Dominance and fibroids.
- What the main symptoms of fibroids are.
- Conventional treatments.
- Diet changes you can make to alleviate or naturally reverse the symptoms of fibroids and Estrogen Dominance.
What Are Fibroids?
Fibroids are also called uterine leiomyomas and are firm, tumorous, benign growths, made up of connective tissue and smooth muscle. Fibroids can range from being very small to very large – from the size of a pea to the size of an apple. Because the fibroids develop within the uterine wall they can cause intense menstrual pain and heavy bleeding.
Fibroids occur in women of any age and cause complications in pregnancy and in life, although they are more common in menstruating women who have higher amounts of estrogen. Fibroids are a major cause of infertility, miscarriage, heavy periods, and are the number one reason for having a hysterectomy. Though this sounds startling, fibroids are also incredibly common and usually benign.
Some Numbers on Fibroids in Women
- An estimated 20 to 50 percent of all women of reproductive age have fibroids but are not diagnosed.
- Up to 75 percent of all women will develop fibroids at some point in their life.
- Most women have fibroids after age 30.
- An estimated 99 percent of all fibroids are non-cancerous tumors.
- Hysterectomies are considered treatment for fibroids in conventional medicine.
- American’s hysterectomy rates far exceed other Western countries.
- African American women are more likely than white women to have fibroids and hysterectomy.
- More than 600,000 hysterectomies are performed each year.
The conventional American medicine way of dealing with fibroids is to remove the uterus rather than identifying the root cause. This is unfortunate because fibroids can often be treated with diet changes and simple supplements.
We’re going to examine fibroids more closely and identify the underlying causes because it is possible to address the root cause of your fibroids and possibly prevent the need for a hysterectomy.
Why Estrogen Dominance Is The Main Cause Of Fibroids
What’s missing from the conversation on fibroids is the strong connection between fibroids and Estrogen Dominance. The majority of women I have worked with when diagnosed were not explained by their physicians that Estrogen Dominance is the leading cause of their fibroids. Estrogen Dominance happens when there is too much of “dirty”estrogen (which are a form of estrogen metabolites) and not enough progesterone, which can wreak havoc on a woman’s body.
Estrogen Dominance can result in:
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Weight gain (especially around the thighs and hips)
- Abnormal menstruation
- Breast cancer (ER+)
… and more.
While we normally associate estrogen with women – as the predominant female hormone – when there is too much estrogen and not enough progesterone, the issues this can cause are significant. This is because estrogen is mostly responsible for growth – it builds the uterine wall every month for your menstrual cycle, rebuilds bone, and without it, you’d experience menopause-like symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats or forgetfulness.
I know, estrogen sounds pretty great. That’s because estrogen offers you enormous benefits. But here’s the thing, there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to estrogen. Your progesterone is the hormone that keeps estrogen in check and without it, your estrogen would run amuck. Estrogen Dominance symptoms occur to 75% of women, but a whopping 90% of them don’t even realize they have it. Take this Quiz to find out where you stand.
It’s All About The Estrogen-Progesterone Balance
Progesterone notices when you don’t get pregnant and stops estrogen from building the uterine wall and starts menstruation. Progesterone blocks estrogen receptors in various organs throughout the body, reducing the impact of estrogen. Progesterone also prevents estrogen from causing too much cell growth in the breast or the uterus.
It’s a bit like estrogen is your party animal friend, while progesterone is the responsible one. Estrogen can be ‘fun’ but it needs progesterone to stay out of trouble. Take a look at the below chart to gain an understanding and appreciation of how these two hormones dance together.
What actually causes the fibroids are anything that throws off this estrogen-progesterone balance, including:
- Hormonal birth controls (even the ones with progesterone – it’s synthetic)
- Unbalanced bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (like taking estrogen alone)
- Synthetic hormones (aka HRT)
- High alcohol intake
- High sugar diet
- High carbohydrate diet
- Conventional meat and dairy with hormones
- Food high with phytoestrogens such as soy
- Digestive irregularities (often caused by unidentified food sensitivities)
- Poor gut microflora
15 Symptoms of Fibroids
Common symptoms of fibroids include:
- Heavier than normal menstrual bleeding
- Stronger than normal menstrual pains
- Periods that last longer than a week
- Anemia due to heavy periods
- Bleeding in between periods
- Constant pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination and trouble fully emptying the bladder
- Painful bowel movements
- Lower back pain
- Enlarged abdomen
- Pain during sex
How Are Fibroids Diagnosed?
Fibroids are usually self-diagnosed (by a firm touch of the abdomen) or diagnosed by a doctor during a normal pelvic exam. Fibroids usually feel like hard tissue just under the skin. Your doctor can also find shape irregularities in your uterus during a pelvic exam, which would suggest you have fibroids. Ultrasound is another way to diagnose fibroids.
What Is the Risk of Cancer from Fibroids?
Many reputable sources say that there is an increased risk for developing uterine and breast cancer in those that have fibroids. However, this correlation hasn’t been definitively made and there’s currently a lack of studies supporting this claim.
It’s likely that the correlation exists because Estrogen Dominance can contribute to both estrogenic cancers (such as breast, ovarian, uterine or thyroid cancer) and fibroids.
In my practice, I, therefore, stress the importance of addressing Estrogen Dominance to prevent a long list of diseases and live in confidence and hope for good health, and not fear. If you are not sure if you have estrogen dominance, take the quiz.
Conventional “treatments” offer little else other than myomectomy (removal of fibroids), embolization (fibroid shrinkage), or outright hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). The last one can be tragic news for women who still want to have children.
The biggest problem I have with these “treatments” (in reality, they don’t treat, only temporarily reduce the symptoms) is that they do not address the underlying cause.
Strategies that will help right away
You should start a diet specifically to address Estrogen Dominance. You can use food to control your hormones and reverse uncomfortable symptoms. Here are simple, nourishing, hormone balancing principles and meals for anyone worried about estrogen dominance and fibroids:
- Reduce alcohol to no more than 3 drinks per week
- Reduce sugar to no more than 20 grams per day
- An Elimination Diet (where you eliminate gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nightshade vegetables and peanuts) will help you reduce the inflammation, hence the symptoms.
- Eat organic as much as possible.
- Add 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed once per day (Flaxseed, even though contains phytoestrogens, it helps to reduce the “dirty” estrogens) – helps with estrogen detoxification and add fiber to promote good bowel movement
- Support your liver – it’s the key organ responsible for estrogen detoxification.