By Christina Morris, L.Ac.
Uterine fibroids (also known as fibroid tumors, leiomyomas, myomas, or fibromyomas) are growths found within or on the uterus. These growths are benign with only 0.1 % of benign tumors turning malignant. It is estimated that 20 to 30 percent of women will develop these growths. Although the causes are unknown, fibroids are usually found in women between the ages of 35 and 45 and are three times more likely in African-American women.
Western Medicine believes that excessive levels of estrogen and growth hormone may influence fibroid growth and formation. Fibroids usually shrink or disappear after menopause, when estrogen production decreases. Many women with fibroids have little or no symptoms; others may experience pain and irregular or heavy bleeding, fatigue, abdominal heaviness, constipation, urinary frequency and urgency. Complications may include, anemia, infertility, and intestinal obstruction or fibroids twisting around nearby organs if it is large and pedunculated (attached to the uterus by a stalk).
There are several tests used by Western Medicine to diagnose uterine fibroids, however they are frequently found during routine examinations. It is important to see your gynecologist once a year for your annual examination. If small tumors are found, a pelvic exam is performed every 4 to 6 months to monitor their growth.
Treatments depend on the severity of the symptoms, size, and location of the growths. Western Medicine treatments may include a low dose estrogen pill to help regulate hormone levels. Other options may be more radical, including surgical removal of problematic tumors, and/or hysterectomy. Alternative treatments may be used if surgery is not necessary. Acupuncture and herbology have been successful in the treatment of fibroids.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views health disorders as a result of imbalances in the body. Everyone has a natural flow of energy (Qi) in their body. When this energy is not flowing properly, blockages (stagnation) can occur. Over time these blockages can create diseases and affect many organs of the body. Uterine fibroids are usually due to some type of stagnation: Qi stagnation, Qi and blood stagnation, or damp stagnation. Acupuncture and herbology have been shown to have remarkable results in the treatment of uterine fibroids, and can correct energetic imbalances that cause fibroids. Small fibroids can shrink and diminish after several weeks of treatment.
Diet and lifestyle also play an important role in your health. If you have fibroids or have had fibroids in the past, it is recommended that you stay away from excessive cold foods and especially cold drinks. Cold has a tendency to cause an energetic stagnation in the lower abdomen. During the menstrual period and after child birth it is important to avoid exposure to cold and dampness. A diet low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates may help reduce the size and halt the growth of fibroid tumors. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include vegetables, whole grains, beans and peas. Moderate exercise and/or meditation are essential to keep the Qi and Blood flowing properly. Meditation should be performed standing while breathing deeply into the lower abdomen.
Uterine fibroids do not appear suddenly overnight. Traditional Chinese Medicine views fibroid formation as a gradual process of imbalances in the body that results in an actual physical mass. Acupuncture and herbology can be used as a preventative medicine by balancing disharmonies and restoring the proper flow of energy in the body. It is important that women keep their body’s in tune and balanced for optimum health and vitality. Take care of your body because it is the only one that you have.