Uterine fibroids is one of the most common health concerns in women's health. Between 80-90% of African American women and 70% of Caucasian women have had fibroids by the age of 50, according to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (1). Of those women, the majority opt for a hysterectomy, after years of pain and bleeding and overwhelming fatigue.
What if I told you there's a possibility of reducing the effects of uterine fibroids without taking the pill? And you get to keep your uterus! In honor of Uterine Fibroid Awareness Month, let's review the risk factors for uterine fibroids and how you can take action.
You've received the diagnosis from your doctor - the pain has been caused by uterine fibroids. Your doctor will give you two options: 1) go on the pill or 2) go for a non-invasive surgery to remove the fibroid(s). If you're experiencing common fibroid symptoms, the pill is usually prescribed as a means of "keeping the fibroids at bay." Surgery is usually reserved for extreme symptoms such as excessive bleeding and uterine obstruction. Your treatment is up to the discretion of you and your doctor; a combination of medical experience and knowledge and your intuition as a woman. If you know the primary risk factors, there are really three options for treatment. Genetics and lifestyle habits conclude a women's potentiality for developing uterine fibroids. In this case, if your mother or sister has had fibroids, your chances of developing fibroids increases. However, genetics doesn't define your long-term health outcome. Food and nutrition does.
This is the third option for treatment that is a forgotten conversation in the doctor's office. Unfortunately, many women's symptoms remain stagnant or intensify when using the pill approach. It makes sense, logically, regulating hormones with hormones. This can be done more effectively with the use of food, as they contain a well-rounded spectrum of nutrients the pill cannot offer. For women who are in childbearing years, this information is extremely important and needs to be at the forefront of women's health in general. We now know that food can alter the state of our genetic replication, which not only affects you, but the generations to come after you.
One of the main contributors to the growth of uterine fibroids is estrogen dominance. Other factors include stress, sleep disturbances, environmental toxins, and lifestyle habits.
3 Keys to Natural Fibroid Prevention + Treatment
Attain hormonal balance with lifestyle choices
Lifestyle habits in regards to food, physical activity, environmental exposure, sleep, and relaxation affect the harmony of hormones. As mentioned above, food is a powerful tool! Avoiding certain foods such as soy, treated meats, and dairy will reduce inflammation and stimulate the body's natural healing response. A whole food diet rich in color (red, yellow, purple, blue), vegetables and foods with naturally occurring phytoestrogens is one of the best ways we offer our bodies protection from xenoestrogens (2).
Endocrine disruptions are everywhere; furniture, household and outdoor chemicals, and beauty and body products to say the least. It can be overwhelming, but that doesn't disable you from making changes. You don't need to revamp your life with a single large purchase. Take small steps towards the direction of reducing your toxin exposure. It can be as simple as switching out the hand-washing soap. By reducing the amount of chemicals you're exposed to, this increases the efficacy of the body's detoxification process. And you'll feel a difference. Literally.
The brain is one main compartment where hormone balance is achieved, so ensuring you get adequate sleep and effectively managing stress will promote hormonal balance. Find a relaxation technique that works best for your lifestyle; meditation, tai chi, yoga, less electronics, nature walks, and grounding are just a few.
Hormone regulating: Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
Phytoestrogenic: Shatavari, (Asparagus racemosus) Fenugreek ( Trigonella foenum-graecum), Red clover ( Trifolium pratense), Alfalfa ( Medicago sativa), Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Rebuild the lymphatic system and microbiome
Movement and nutrients keep the lymphatic system functioning at an optimal level. Movement techniques such as jump rope, swimming, inversion (really any physical activity) will pump the lymphatic system, as it does the blood, thus making sure toxins are being flushed out. The state of the microbiome determines the functionality of the gastrointestinal system, immunity, and brain health. Essentially, the microbiome is our signature composure of microorganisms in the body. If those cells are strong, the body's defense against invading organisms is strong as well and will ensure you're absorbing maximum nutrients (to include phytoestrogens such as isoflavone!). Prebiotic foods (fiber, probiotics, and certain herbs assist with microbiome health.
Supporting herbs: Dandelion (Taraxacum), Oregon Grape Root (Mahonia aquifolium), Burdock (Arctium)
Improve liver functions
It's crucial to make sure the liver is optimally functioning, as that's where estrogen is processed. This will ensure that you are properly removing excess estrogen from the body (3).
Supporting herbs: Dandelion (Taraxacum), Milk Thistle ( Silybum marianum)
I'll reserve the role of estrogen in the body for a different post, as many women are uneducated about its functions. I hope this post provided insight and empowerment in regards to your health. Share this information with loved ones, friends, and most importantly your health care provider.
1. Erica E. Marsh, Ayman Al-Hendy, Dale Kappus, Alex Galitsky, Elizabeth A. Stewart, and Majid Kerolous.Journal of Women's Health.Nov 2018.ahead of printhttp://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2018.7076
Xuan Zhang, Qian Chen, Bo Chen, Fangqin Wang, and Xiao-Hong Chen, “Herb Formula ZhenRongDan Balances Sex Hormones, Modulates Organ Atrophy, and Restores ER and ER Expressions in Ovariectomized Rats,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2018, Article ID 5896398, 10 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/5896398.