What Are Uterine Fibroids? A Natural Approach To Relief.
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are made of connective tissue and muscle that grow on the inside or outside of the walls of the uterus. They vary in size (pea to small watermelon). They vary in consistency from round and firm, soft, or rock hard.
They are non-cancerous growth (benign fibrous tumors) found in the female reproductive system.
Who gets Uterine Fibroids?
Most women are symptom free and as many as 75% are unaware they have them. They are typically found during a pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound.
Women of child bearing age have the highest incidence with estimates from 25 to 50%, mostly in their 30’s and 40’s. Women’s health expert Dr. Susan Lark, M.D., estimates that 40% of American women have a benign fibroid tumor by the time they reach menopause.
What are the common signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids?
Bloating, pressure and sense of heaviness and the lower abdomen
Extreme and increased PMS-pain, heavy bleeding, irregular cycles that include mid-cycle bleeding
Excessive vaginal discharge
Low energy which can be due to low iron levels from increased blood loss
Pain and/or bleeding with intercourse
Why do women get Uterine fibroids?
Fibroids are estrogen driven. What does that mean? They often occur in the reproductive years and regress AFTER menopause, therefore there is a strong implication that estrogen is one of the main factors. Women who are peri-menopause will also see an increase in fibroids due to decrease of lack of ovulation, when there is low progesterone and too much estrogen.
Fibroids also have a higher concentration of estrogen receptor sites than the uterine muscle.
How do you test and diagnose fibroids?
Most often uterine fibroids are discovered during a routine pelvic exam. However them most common tests to help the practitioner in the diagnosis include:
Ultrasound is used to confirm the presence of a fibroid
Ultrasound will help with confirm the size and how it is impacting the uterus
Follow up pelvic exams and/or ultrasound every 4-6 months will help to keep an eye on the growth rate
What are some causes other causes of fibroids?
As mentioned estrogen plays a role in growth of fibroid but there are other causes too.
Foreign estrogen, estrogen mimickers AKA xenoestrogens can interfere with normal hormone balance by mimicking the body’s own natural estrogen. When this happens it can lead to estrogen to progesterone imbalance, ESTROGEN dominance, and fibroid can develop as the result of this.
The most common endocrine disruptors:
BPA – canned foods, plastic, store receipts
Dioxin – often found in meat, fish, eggs, milk and butter
Atrazine – found in corn crops and drinking water
Phthalates plastic wrap and food containers, children’s toys, personal care products from shampoos to perfumes
Perchlorate – found in milk and water
Fire Retardants – milk, clothing, furniture
Lead – pain and drinking water
Arsenic – drinking water
Mercury - seafood
Perfluorinated chemicals – non-stick pans, water resistant coatings on clothes, furniture and carpet
Organophosphate pesticides – commercially raised produce
Glycol Ethers – common solvents in paints, cleaning products, cosmetics and brake fluid
A poor diet will impact how estrogen is metabolized. It’s important to avoid foods that promote excess estrogen. The most common are:
Excess alcohol (for many women their daily glass of wine can do this)
Conventionally raised chicken, beef, pork and eggs
These will slow down how efficiently estrogen is metabolized in the body. It will slow down the metabolism of estrogen in the liver therefore more opportunities to create hormone chaos (particularly Estrogen)
Personal hygiene & beauty products
Xenoestrogens are found in many personal care products including body soap, shampoo, conditioner, perfumes, creams, skin lotions and deodorants. Cosmetics have many xenoestrogens and are not a industry that is regulated by any government agency for safety.
Other sources of xenoestrogens include plastics, pesticides, chemicals and water systems.
Other causes include
Poor liver function or toxicity
Poor bowel movement or constipation
Low physical activity
High levels of IGF-1
A Wellness approach to Uterine Fibroids
A healthy liver is key in metabolizing estrogen. It converts the strong form of estrogen (Estradiol) into estrone to estriol “the safe estrogen.” So If you have a sluggish liver you will have a back up and increase level of circulating estrogens, especially the xenoestrogens.
Increase consumption of cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kale, spinach, broccoli, bok choy)
Some key supplements include sulforaphane, calcium-d-glucarate, indole -3- carbinol, Tumeric, Milk Thistle, DIM, Green tea extract.
Serrapeptase is an enzyme that is thought to help digest the protein cell membrane around that surrounds the abnormal growth, cells and the fibrous material of the fibroid.
Eat hormone free and pesticide free foods. Eat healthy fats like olive oil and avocado oil, organic vegetables and fruit (limit to 2 servings/day)clean proteins like wild caught fish, hormone free and sustainably raised animal products like beef and poultry.
Add fiber to diet to include flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp heart along with 5-7 cups of vegetables. They help with excreting xenoestrogens.
Remove sugar, processed foods, alcohol, dairy products, alcohol, refined carbs, and conventionally raised beef and poultry.