UF are non-cancerous tumors that grow inside a women's uterine wall. They can range from a few millimeters to the size of a watermelon (2017).
There are different types of fibroids that women get. Here's a list and a description of each:
- Intramural - These grow within the muscular uterine wall, and are the most common. These can actually distort and stretch the uterus, if they're large enough. These can also cause prolonged, heavy periods; and pressure and pain in the pelvic region.
- Subserosal - These grow outside the walls of the uterus, and sometimes press on the bladder causing difficulty in emptying your bladder, and sometimes even backaches.
- Pedunculated - These grow on small stalks inside or outside of the uterus.
- Submucosal or Intracavitary - These grow underneath the uterine lining. These will likely cause heavy, prolonged periods. These are not as common as other types of fibroids (Axe, 2017).
Many risk factors contribute to getting uterine fibroids, and these risk factors are:
- Heredity - If your mother or sister has fibroids, your chances of getting them are greater.
- Age - Fibroids usually show up around your 30's or 40's.
- Nationality - Black women are two to three times more likely to develop fibroids than other nationalities, and tend to get them at younger ages, have more of them, and larger ones.
- Diet - Poor quality beef, and any pork has been linked to higher fibroid risk.
- Obesity - Being overweight creates a higher risk.
- High Blood Pressure - High blood pressure seems to create a higher risk.
- Hypothyroidism - Hypothyroidism has been associated with uterine fibroids.
- Early Menstruation - Women who started their periods before 10 years old are at higher risk.
- Birth Control - Because of the increased estrogen levels caused by them, birth control pills can cause fibroids to grow more rapidly (Axe, 2017).
Certain foods may make fibroids worse, so try your best to avoid them. These foods are:
- High fat, processed meats - These meats can increase inflammation and many times contain chemical additives.
- Conventional dairy - Because it is high in steroids and other chemicals, non-organic dairy can alter hormones and encourage the growth and development of fibroids.
- Refined sugar - Two factors that encourage the development of fibroids are weight gain and hormonal imbalance, which can be caused by the effects of refined sugar. "Studies have shown that a high dietary glycemic index is associated with a higher risk of uterine fibroids in some women (Axe, 2017)."
- Refined carbohydrates - These carbs can cause insulin levels to spike, while causing and hormones to become unstable.
- Alcohol - Alcohol can increase inflammation throughout the body. It reduces immune function and encourages hormonal imbalances.
- Caffeine - Drinking more than two cups a day can increase estrogen levels and worsen fibroids (Axe, 2017).
- Organic foods - "Eating organic foods can help to shrink and prevent fibroids. Pesticides impact estrogen and other hormone levels." Hormonal balance is the key to treating fibroids naturally, so you'll want to avoid pesticide ingestion as much as you can.
- Green leafy vegetables - These vegetables discourage fibroid growth in a woman's body, because they are rich in vitamin K, which aids in clotting and helps control menstrual bleeding.
- Cruciferous vegetables - These vegetables help to detox your liver and balance estrogen levels. Consuming large amounts of broccoli, tomatoes, apples, cabbage and Chinese cabbage seems to be a protective factor for uterine fibroids, according to research. Large consumptions of these vegetables and fruits, are believed to be able to reduce the incidence of uterine fibroids in women.
- Beta - Carotene rich foods - The body turns beta - carotene into vitamin A, which promotes the growth of healthy tissue, and also repairs tissue, and these things can be helpful in healing fibroids. Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale are high in beta - carotene.
- High iron foods - Fibroids can cause heavy periods can lead to excessive blood loss, which in turn can cause anemia. Foods high in iron like grass-fed beef and legumes, can help to replace loss iron and prevent anemia.
- Flaxseeds - These can help to balance estrogen levels in the body, and this can help to shrink fibroids. At least two tablespoons per day should be helpful. Sprinkle them on your oatmeal or in smoothies, or just eat them as they are.
- Whole grains - Use whole grains like millet, spelt, rye, oats, buckwheat, and brown rice, instead of refined grains (Axe, 2017).
There are many different treatments for fibroids. The one that's best for each woman will be based on many factors. Here's a list of those treatments:
- Watchful waiting - If your fibroids don't bother you, then this may be the best thing to do. And if you're close to menopause, they naturally start to shrink during menopause.
- Gn - RH agonists (Lupron, Synarel, etc.) - These block the production of estrogen and progesterone, which puts you in a post-menopausal state temporarily. This stops your menstrual cycle, shrinks the fibroids, and may improve anemia caused by excessive menstrual bleeding. This is only a temporary fix, and is only administered for 3 to 6 months, because of the side effects.
- Progestin releasing IUD - This device can relieve heavy bleeding caused by fibroids. It also prevents pregnancy, but does not shrink fibroids.
- Tranexamic acid (Lysteda) - This is a non-hormonal medication that's taken to lessen heavy periods, and is only taken during heavy period days.
- Other medications can be used, but they don't shrink fibroids (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
- Noninvasive procedure:
- MRI guided FUS - This is done on an outpatient basis, requires no incision and preserves your uterus. This is performed while inside an MRI scanner equipped with a high energy ultrasound transducer, which focuses soundwaves into the fibroids which heats and destroys small areas of fibroid tissue (2017).
- Minimally invasive procedures:
- Uterine artery embolization - Small particles are injected into the arteries to the uterus. This cuts off the bloodflow to the fibroids, which cause them to shrink and die.
|Uterine Artery Embolization|
- Myolysis - This laparoscopic procedure uses either radiofrequency energy, an electric current, or laser to destroy the fibroids and shrink the blood vessels that feed them. Cryomyolysis is a similar procedure that freezes the fibroids.
- Laparoscopic or robotic myomectomy - A surgeon removes the fibroids leaving the uterus intact, during a myomectomy. If there are only a few fibroids your doctor may suggest a laparoscopic or robotic procedure.
- Hysteroscopic myomectomy - "This procedure may be an option if the fibroids are contained inside the uterus (submucosal). Your surgeon accesses and removes fibroids using instruments inserted through your vagina and cervix into your uterus (Mayo Clinic, 2017)."
- Endometrial ablation - Performed with a special instrument inserted into the uterus, this treatment uses heat, microwave energy, hot water, or electric current to destroy the uterine lining. This will end menstruation or reduce the menstrual flow. This does not affect fibroids outside of the uterine interior lining.
- Traditional surgical procedures:
- Abdominal myomectomy - This open abdominal surgical procedure is used if you have multiple fibroids, very large fibroids, or very deep fibroids. Many of the women who are told that they need a hysterectomy, may be able to have this procedure instead.
- Hysterectomy - This is major surgery for a woman, because it removes the uterus. This should be thoroughly researched and discussed before making this decision, because it's permanent and comes with many possible side effects (May Clinic, 2017).
Axe, J. (2017). 8 ways to heal or prevent fibroids. Draxe.com.
Retrieved from https://draxe.com/fibroids/
Mayo Clinic Staff (2017). Uterine fibroids. Mayoclinic.org.
Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/
FUS and UAE pics from Mayoclini.org/uterine fibroids.
Uterine fibroid pic from MedicineNet.com