What you will learn in this article:
- What fibroids are and what their root cause is
- Causes of fibroids
- The connection between Estrogen Dominance and fibroids
- Signs and symptoms of fibroids
- How are fibroids diagnosed?
- What is the risk of cancer from fibroids?
- What are some treatment options?
- Diet changes you can make to alleviate or naturally reverse the symptoms of fibroids and Estrogen Dominance
The potential of having a hysterectomy is pretty scary for most women. However, most hysterectomies can be avoided if you know the main causes behind them and practice some key preventative strategies.
Many women say: “My sister and mother had fibroids and had their uterus removed” – hence we assume that it’s our destiny as well. In this article, I want to show you that it doesn’t have to be your path.
Fibroids are the number one cause behind a doctor-advised hysterectomy, yet they are very common, and only 10 to 20 percent of fibroid cases require surgery.
In fact, it’s estimated that between 20 and 80 percent of women will develop fibroids by age 50. The good news is that for most women, diet and lifestyle choices can help to prevent fibroids, and if you do get them, there are natural treatments that can help.
What Are Fibroids?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, fibroids (also called uterine leiomyomas or myomas) are benign tumors or growths that develop in the muscle tissue of the uterus. They can range in size from the size of a pea to the size of a grapefruit.
Fibroids can occur within the wall of the uterus, on the inside, or on its outer surface. Because of their location, they can cause intense menstrual pain and heavy bleeding.
While fibroids can occur at any age, they are more common in women in their 30s or 40s and particularly in menstruating women who have higher amounts of estrogen and estrogen dominance – the leading cause of fibroids. Find more on this below.
The onset of menopause tends to bring relief. Fibroids are also more common in African American women due to genetic factors.
Not only are fibroids generally behind hysterectomies, they are also a major cause of infertility, miscarriages, and painful, heavy periods.
However, a lot of times, they don’t cause any symptoms at all.
My personal motto is: Just because something isn’t bothering you, it does not make it OK. When I was in private practice, I saw many women showing early signs of estrogen dominance (such as fibroids) and ignoring them for years – until more serious manifestations of estrogen dominance hit them, such as breast, thyroid, ovarian, or uterine cancers.
Therefore, I’m a big advocate of addressing fibroids early and exercising prevention if there is a family history.
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.
Causes of Fibroids
- An African heritage increases susceptibility
- Fibroids are a symptom of Estrogen Dominance, a very common hormonal imbalance discussed in this article.
- According to Anna Cabeca, MD, the use of synthetic progesterone may contribute to fibroids.
Anything that throws off the estrogen-progesterone balance can cause fibroids, including:
- Hormonal birth control (even the ones with progesterone because they have a synthetic version)
- Synthetic hormones (Hormone Replacement Therapy)
- Unbalanced bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (like taking estrogen, especially estradiol, alone)
- High alcohol intake
- High sugar diet
- High carbohydrate diet
- Conventional meat and dairy with added hormones
- Food high in phytoestrogens such as soy
- Digestive irregularities like constipation (often caused by unidentified food sensitivities)
- Poor gut microflore
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
Signs and 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
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 here.
How Are Fibroids Diagnosed?
Fibroids are usually self-diagnosed, as women will feel a mass or growth in the abdominal area. They may also be diagnosed by a doctor during a normal pelvic exam, as abnormal shapes will show up. Ultrasound is another way to diagnose fibroids.
What Are Some Treatment Options?
If you’d rather avoid the conventional treatment options of myomectomy (removal of fibroids), embolization (fibroid shrinkage), or outright hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), take a look at some natural solutions outlined below.
My challenge and disagreement with Western medicine’s approach to fibroids is just removing them (they often grow back) instead of addressing the underlying causation. If you have a leak in your roof, you fix the roof, not paint over it, right?
The main cause of fibroids is estrogen dominance – a very common hormonal imbalance 70% of women experience, unknowingly, at some point of their lives.
My recommendation is for you to dive into our rich resources about addressing estrogen dominance naturally.
Here are the articles:
- What is Estrogen Dominance as a Hormone Imbalance in Women?
- Best Supplements for Estrogen Dominance
- How to Use Herbs for Estrogen Dominance
- How to Use Seed Rotation to Rebalance Your Hormones
Not sure if you’re likely to have estrogen dominance? Take the Quiz.
Weight loss, due to the fact that fat cells produce additional estrogen, leading to Estrogen Dominance.
A healthy diet, such as that recommended on this website and in my book Overcoming Estrogen Dominance. These suggestions are to specifically address Estrogen Dominance:
- Reduce alcohol to no more than 3 drinks per week
- Reduce sugar to no more than 20 grams per day
- Commit to doing the Elimination Diet (eliminate gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nightshade vegetables, and peanuts) to reduce inflammation and lessen the symptoms.
- Eat organic as much as possible.
- Add 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed once per day (Flaxseeds, even though they contain phytoestrogens, help to reduce and evacuate the “dirty” estrogens) – helps with estrogen detoxification and add fiber to promote good bowel movements.
- Support your liver – the key organ responsible for estrogen detoxification.
Exercise helps prevent the development of fibroids. One study found that the more women exercise, the less likely they are to have fibroids.
Where to Start?
If you’re making some dietary and lifestyle changes and want additional support, Fibro Support is a great place to start. This is especially true if you think you’re dealing with Estrogen Dominance and are worried about fibroids, or if you know you have fibroids.
Fibro Support features Nattokinase, a proteolytic enzyme that has been shown clinically to degrade excess fibrin, the primary cause of adverse symptoms in women with fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and fibrocystic disease. As a result, this product may help the body dissolve tissue that grows where it isn’t supposed to — like in Fibroids and Endometriosis.
The Ayurvedic herb, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), has shown potential in treating uterine fibroids. Long-term treatment has resulted in a reduction of bleeding and a disappearance of fibroids over time.
Calcium D-Glucarate is another supplement that can help treat estrogen dominance and resulting fibroids. High-dose calcium-D-glucarate given over a number of weeks lowered blood estradiol by 23% in an animal study. Based on the results in animals, a dosage of 1500-3000 mg of Calcium D-glucarate per day has been recommended as a part of an integrative approach to fibroid prevention in humans.
Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) was tested against an endometriosis drug called tibolone in a double-blind, randomized controlled trial of 244 menopausal women.
Half were given 2.5 mg tibolone per day and the other half were given 40 mg of black cohosh extract per day for a period of 3 months. Those on the black cohosh treatment experienced a shrinkage of their fibroids by as much as 30% while the tibolone actually increased fibroid size by about 5%. Wise Women’s Balance contains Black Cohosh.
Green Tea extract (epigallocatechin gallate [EGCG]) was tested in 33 women of reproductive age who had symptomatic uterine fibroids. The women received either green tea extract (45% EGCG) or a placebo (800 mg of brown rice) for 4 months in a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial.
At the end of the study, fibroid size increased 24% in the placebo group while they shrank by 32% in the green tea group. They were also less anemic at the end of the trial. Wise Women’s Balance also contains green tea extract.
Castor Oil Packs, as mentioned in this article, can help reduce the size of fibroids and lessen the pain.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – both Chinese herbs and Acupuncture have shown potential for treating uterine fibroids and have been used in China for Centuries.
Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is an herb that is often recommended for women’s hormone health. However, due to its stimulatory effect on the uterus and estrogenic effects, it may not be the best for women who have fibroids or uterine issues. Yet, studies are lacking.
Any herbs that increase blood flow to the uterus should also be avoided. Such herbs are called emmenagogues and include motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), and ginger (Zingiber officinale).
Learn more with Overcoming Estrogen Dominance
“The body has an amazing ability to heal. We just need to give it the right resources.”
In Overcoming Estrogen Dominance, my goal is to empower and give you the tools to take control of your hormones and health.
More than 70% of women experience estrogen dominance. The symptoms range from lumpy and fibrocystic breasts to thyroid nodules, hot flashes, fibroids, uterine polyps, painful, heavy or irregular periods to infertility and miscarriages, from mood swings to insomnia, weight gain to fatigue.
So many women have experienced the pain and frustration that comes when, sitting in their doctor’s exam room, they feel their symptoms and complaints are dismissed or minimized. They feel unheard, helpless, with no control over their bodies or the underlying issues that are causing their debilitating symptoms. This is particularly true for women who are experiencing the symptoms of hormone imbalance. Even when doctors do offer treatment, it’s typically in the form of prescription medication or invasive surgical procedures.
In Overcoming Estrogen Dominance, I hope to show that those extreme interventions are often unnecessary, and to give women a roadmap to ease and erase their symptoms using food, herbs, supplements and natural protocols to re-balance hormones.
My goal is to help reverse the impact of estrogen dominance naturally, helping you lead a symptom-free life, without fear.
To get your copy of Overcoming Estrogen Dominance, go here.