An uterine fibroid is a benign tumour in the uterus which develops either within the muscular wall of the uterus or attached to the uterine wall by a stalk of tissue. Uterine fibroids are also known as myomas.
Uterine fibroids may grow larger but they are unlikely to spread. Fibroids can grow gradually to various sizes over few years, but often shrink after menopause. The presence of a uterine fibroid may also lead to the development of more fibroids, although these are usually non-cancerous.
Most women with small uterine fibroids do not experience any symptoms. In some cases, the following signs may indicate the presence of uterine fibroids:
- heavy menstrual bleeding
- sudden sharp pain in the lower abdomen
- prolonged menstrual periods of 7 days or more
- pelvic pressure or pain
- frequent urination
- difficulty emptying your bladder
- backache or leg pains
Uterine fibroids may be caused by several factors such as heredity, the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone and chemicals from processed foods. Obesity may also increase your risk of developing uterine fibroids.
Treatment and prevention
Phytoestrogens which are a weaker source of oestrogen help protect the body from the effects of excess oestrogen. Increase your intake of foods that contain phytoestrogens like alfalfa, red clover, soy, linseeds, lentils and chickpeas. Observe a low-fat and high fibre diet by eating more fruits and vegetables and wholegrains like brown rice, oats and wholemeal bread. Avoid processed foods as these contain additives, preservatives and chemicals that may cause fibroids. Choose organic foods whenever possible.
Vitamins that are recommended for women with uterine fibroids are Vitamins A, C and E. Research also shows that a Vitamin-B deficiency decreases the liver’s ability to metabolise oestrogen and that the intake of Vitamin B supplements improves symptoms of PMS such as menstrual cramps. B-Vitamins help prevent uterine fibroids by allowing your liver to convert excess oestrogen into weaker and less dangerous forms. Vitamin B-6 also helps reduce abnormal blood clotting and prevent inflammation. Look for a good multivitamin that can supply you with other important vitamins and minerals such as zinc which promotes hormone balance and tissue repair.
Herbs such as paeonia and licorice combinations, Chastetree and Ladies Mantle help to promote hormonal balance while Calendula, Thuja, Damiana and Poke root have been reported to prevent the growth or reduce the size of uterine fibroids.
Essential oils such as ginger extract promote circulation and improve liver function while marjoram acts as a natural muscle relaxant and eases uterine cramps. Rose oil, which has a deep sweet floral fragrance, is gentle and relaxing and has mild hormone-balancing properties. These natural oils may be used to massage the abdomen and lower back to relieve discomfort caused by uterine fibroids.
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