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Uterine fibroids are basically abnormal balls of muscle that grow in muscle layer of our uteri. The uterus is a very muscular organ.  This makes sense as it must be to sustain a pregnancy, then have the power to push a large baby out through a small canal.

The uterus is made up of 4 layers of tissue:

  • Endometrium – which is the inner lining of the uterus and is made up of a functional layer and the basal layer.  The functional layer is the part of the uterus that is shed every month in our menstrual cycle.  The basal layer forms the functional layer.  Damage to the basal layer prevents the formation of the functional layer.

  • Myometrium – is the muscle layer.  The muscle in this layer is involuntary smooth muscle.  This means that we do not consciously have control of this muscle.  Overgrowth of this layer is what causes fibroids.

  • Perimetrium are the outer cover of the uterus.

Cause:  Fibroids result from an overgrowth of the myometrium in the uterus.  This tissue is sensitive to reproductive hormones, so an imbalance (or sometimes just the mere presence) of these hormones, particularly estrogen, stimulates the abnormal growth.

Fibroid Tumors

Symptoms and the severity of the symptoms will depend on the location of the fibroid, and its size.  If the fibroid hangs down into the uterine cavity, there may be more difficulty getting pregnant.   There may be excessive bleeding and pelvic pain as your uterus attempts to evacuate each month; but this fibroid is hanging down in there so the uterus never feels like it’s quite done emptying itself.

If the fibroid is in the wall of the uterus, typically there is not much interference with conception and pregnancy.  Nonetheless, sometimes these tumors can be situated in a way, or be of a size, that blocks the fallopian tube outlet making conception difficult.  Also possible are miscarriages and bleeding in pregnancy.  In non-pregnant women, fibroids commonly cause frequent vaginal bleeding, pelvic cramping, pelvic fullness, and abdominal distension.  Sometimes the bleeding can be so severe, so frequent, and the duration so long, that life-threatening anemia may develop requiring hospitalization, blood transfusions, and even emergency hysterectomy.

If the fibroid is large and bulges more externally, it may press on surrounding organs, or may distort the proper alignment of the uterus to the vaginal canal again creating fertility problems, and possibly delivery problems necessitating a C-section.  Additionally, the fibroid may begin pressing on the bowel or urinary bladder which could cause constipation, frequent urination, inability to urinate, or leakage of urine.

So what causes fibroids? Being a woman of color is a predisposition.  Estrogen plays a significant role (as do other reproductive hormones).

How are fibroids treated? In today’s medical practices, it is very common for a gynecologist to recommend and perform hysterectomies as first line treatment.  Sometimes this is necessary, and the best option.  However, there are steps you can take to avoid needing a hysterectomy.

Avoiding a hysterectomy

First, realize that there are times when a hysterectomy is absolutely the best option.  A fast growing fibroid may actually not be a fibroid at all.  It may be a uterine sarcoma (cancer) which, if not removed will ultimately cost you your life.  In an emergency situation such as when the bleeding is profuse, and the only way to stop the bleeding is a hysterectomy, then it must be done.

But more typically, uterine fibroids are a more insidious issue for women.  They initially cause minor discomforts such as longer menstrual cycles, heavier cycles, more cramping, and pelvic heaviness.  Gradually these symptoms progress to heavier bleeding, possibly bleeding not associated with the menses, and worsening pain.

Excluding an emergency state, it is reasonable to try more natural approaches to help control the symptoms, slow down the growth of the fibroid, and maybe even shrink the fibroids.

Keep in mind that fibroids are stimulated by estrogen.  There are many estrogen-like substances in our environment, such as parabens (and other hormone disruptors).  There is also growth hormones and estrogen-like hormones in non-organic meat (which is how they plump up the chicken or cow).  So eating these hormones will affect your body and cause growth of hormone sensitive tissue (both in men and women, boys and girls).  This can lead to precocious puberty, breast development in males, decreased fertility in both sexes – and growth of uterine smooth muscle (just as estrogen does in pregnancy).

So if you want to stop the growth of uterine fibroids, you have to decrease the dominance of estrogen in your system.  This can only be done with your full attention.  Great first steps include:

  • Maintain a diet free of exogenous hormones.
  • Decrease your exposure to estrogen-like substances such as pesticides, parabens, phthalates by using non/less-toxic hygiene products, cleaning products, etc.
  • Avoid over-indulging in lavender or tea tree oil.  There are studies demonstrating that these essential oils are estrogen mimics
  • Progesterone cream helps balance the estrogen in your system and can be purchased in many drug stores and most health-food stores.  It’s important to use an all-natural bio identical progesterone cream because synthetic progesterone (progestin, Provera) can be dangerous.  And wild yam extracts are not the same as progesterone, so just stick to the natural progesterone creams.  Email me if you desire specific recommendations.

In summary, uterine fibroids are benign, and never cause major problems for most women.  Most fibroids to not interfere with conception, do not cause excessive pain or bleeding, and shrink on their own in menopause.  Fibroids to not turn into cancer, and they are not (in themselves) life threatening.  Treatment commonly involves a hysterectomy, but here at Coily Embrace we believe that it there are effective non-surgical options for dealing with fibroids.  Some of these options include avoiding exogenous estrogens, organic living, and application of proper progesterone creams.