What You Will Learn in This Article
- What Are Fibroids?
- Causes of Fibroids
- Signs and Symptoms of Fibroids
- How are Fibroids Diagnosed?
- What Are Some Treatment Options?
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.
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 with phytoestrogens such as soy
- Digestive irregularities like constipation (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
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 Cooking for Hormone Balance. 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 movement.
- 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.
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. Adding Pique Green tea may be a great addition to your natural fibroid treatment strategy.
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).
Where to Start?
If you’re making some dietary changes and wanting some additional support, the Wellena Fibroid Kit 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.
This kit has a trio of supplements that help support healthy estrogen metabolism to help balance your hormones and get out of estrogen dominance.
The kit includes Brocco Power, DIM, and Fibro Support. The Fibro Support contains two potent proteolytic enzyme blends: Nattozimes® and Serrazimes®. According to research, these two enzymes have the same clot-preventing and dissolving function as enzyme products containing Nattokinase and Serrapeptidase. As a result, this product helps the body dissolve tissue that grows where it isn’t supposed to — like in Fibroids and Endometriosis.
Zhou, Jue and Qu, Fan. Treating Gynaecological Disorders with Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Review. African Journal of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine. July 3, 2009.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Uterine Fibroids. Office on Women’s Health. April 1, 2019.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Uterine Fibroids. Women’s Health Care Physicians. December, 2018.
Eltoukhi, Heba M et al. The health disparities of uterine fibroid tumors for African American women: a public health issue. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. March, 2014.
Sundermann, Alexandra C et al. Leiomyomas in Pregnancy and Spontaneous Abortion: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Obstetrics and gynecology. November, 2017.
Stewart, E. et al. Epidemiology of uterine fibroids: a systematic review. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. March 14, 2017.
Healthwise. Uterine Fibroids. Michigan Medicine: University of Michigan. February 19, 2019.
Xi, Sisi et al. Effect of Isopropanolic Cimicifuga racemosa Extract on Uterine Fibroids in Comparison with Tibolone among Patients of a Recent Randomized, Double Blind, Parallel-Controlled Study in Chinese Women with Menopausal Symptoms. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. March 2, 2014.
Walaszek, Z. et al. Dietary glucarate as anti-promoter of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene-induced mammary tumorigenesis. Carcinogenesis. September, 1986.
N.A. Calcium-D-glucarate. Alternative Medicine Review. August, 2002.
Evans, Joel M. An Integrative Approach to Fibroids, Endometriosis, and Breast Cancer Prevention. Integrative Medicine. Oct/Nov 2008.
Roshdy, Eman et al. Treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids with green tea extract: a pilot randomized controlled clinical study. International journal of women’s health August, 2013.
Kurosawa, Yuko, et al. “A Single-Dose of Oral Nattokinase Potentiates Thrombolysis and Anti-Coagulation Profiles.” Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 25 June 2015.
Nirale, N M, and Mala D Menon. “Topical Formulations of Serratiopeptidase: Development and Pharmacodynamic Evaluation.” Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Medknow Publications, Jan. 2010.