Have you recently experienced changes in your bowel habits, or feel constant dull aches/pains in your lower abdomen, or?
If you said yes to any of the above combo, you may have an un-diagnosed uterine fibroid.
Uterine fibroids are benign growths (meaning: non cancerous) in the uterus, and are common in women of childbearing ages. Some women can have single fibroids while others have multiple ones.
Most women with uterine fibroids are asymptomatic and usually discover their fibroids by accident during pelvic exams or prenatal ultrasounds.
However, for those who are symptomatic, the symptoms associated with uterine fibroids (depending on size and location) can be unpleasant.
Causes and Complications of Uterine Fibroids
Causes of uterine fibroids are unknown but clinically, it has been associated with the aging of our uterus, genetic changes and hormonal growth.
The two hormones - estrogen and progesterone, that are associated with increased lining of the uterus for menstruation are suspected to stimulate growth of uterine fibroids, as they are found in higher levels in the fibroids as compared to normal uterine muscle cells.
Uterine fibroids are generally harmless but there are situations where there can be complications.
One complication of uterine fibroid growth occurs during pregnancy, as the fibroids may also grow in size in conjunction with the fetus.
It may also increase the risk of certain pregnancy complications such as preterm delivery and fetal growth restriction.
Another complication is the issue of anemia due to heavy menstrual flow.
What Are The Types Of Uterine Fibroids?
There are several types of fibroids. They are generally categorized by the location of its growth, whether in or outside the uterus.
These are the most common fibroids, found within the uterus lining. It tends to expand inward, hence increasing the size of our uterus.
Many women tend to experience heavy menstrual bleeding, increased pelvic and back pain, or generalized pressure in the lower abdominal areas.
They can be detected via a gynecologic internal exam because of the larger than normal uterus presentation.
Found just under the uterus lining, these submucosal fibroids are least common but can be the most problematic.
The presence of even very small sized submucosal fibroid can result in heavy prolonged menstrual cycles with very heavy flow. They may also relate to infertility or pregnancy loss.
These fibroids attached itself to the uterus via a stalk like growth called peduncle. They are often mistaken with ovarian cysts due to the way they look and their location.
Those grow within uterus are known as pedunculated submucosal fibroid.
In many case, women with this type fibroid are unaware of its existence as it does not show much symptoms.
However, pedunculated fibroids can be painful especially when it twisted on its own stalk. The risk of the peduncle twisting increases as the fibroid grows larger.
Other painful symptoms that are often associated with these fibroids are uterine cramps, as well as nauseous or vomiting if it presses on the uterus along with other organs.
These fibroids grow under the outside covering of the uterus and tend to expand outwards through the wall.
They are generally detected either with a ultrasound or a magnetic resonance (MR) exam. While they usually do not impact the menstrual flow, women with subserosal fibroids can experience pelvic and back pain, as well as generalized pressure in the lower abdominal areas.
How Do I Know If I May Have Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids can be physically uncomfortable, and symptomatic women tend to experience increased volume of menstrual flow, as well as bad back and pelvic pain.
You may be suffering from uterine fibroids if you have the following symptoms:
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- Frequent urination due to bladder pressure
- Feeling of bloatedness in abdomen, and constipation
- Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods that last for more than a week (women can sometimes become anemic as a result)
- Aches in the legs and back
- Fecal matter becomes thin and stringy for more than a week, as compared to previous fecal bulk
It is important to consult with your doctor when you experience such symptoms for a more detailed evaluation for your condition and relevant treatment options.
Coping With Uterine Fibroids
There are four factors that medical professionals take into consideration as to whether uterine fibroids requires intervention.
These factors are:
- Size of fibroid - big or small. If the fibroid is more than 5 cm, doctors may suggest either non invasive or minimally invasive treatments (eg. Uterine Fibroid Embolization) or surgical interventions.
- Type of fibroid - submucosal fibroids are problematic, regardless of size
- Symptomatic such as worsened menstrual cramps, increased menstrual blood flow, bad pelvic and back pain
- Speed of growth. Medical professionals are more wary when they witness rapid growth of the fibroid size, quickly reaching to 5 cm or more.
How To Prevent Uterine Fibroids
Other than being a woman of childbearing age, there are limited known risk factors for uterine fibroids.
However, there are a few environmental factors have been linked with fibroid development. Hence, here are a few recommendations to reduce exposure to detrimental environmental and lifestyle factors:
- Using plastic materials that can increase your exposure to environmental hormones. Choose BPA free products instead.
- Having a diet high in red meat (especially those animals that are exposed to growth hormones for quick growth) and low in green vegetables (fiber)
- Indulging in too much alcohol, including beer
Home Remedies For Uterine Fibroids
Helping to up the nutrition levels within our body is a good way to decrease our risks of developing uterine fibroids. Check out these home remedies for uterine fibroids!
Environmental Pollutants Detoxification
Try to increase intake of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, alfalfa sprouts and cauliflowers as they are high in sulforaphane, which is linked to detoxification of environmental pollutants.
A simple meal can be made by lightly steaming broccoli and cauliflowers.
Pair the lightly steamed vegetables with homemade hummus for a light dinner or healthy appetizer.
Another simple way is to add a handful of raw sprouts into your regular sandwiches for that extra boost of environmental detoxification.
For liver detoxification, many dietitians recommend a diet high in folic acids.
Folic acids are found in green leafy vegetables like spinach, as well as asparagus. We recommend not overcooking your veggies to retain the folic acid contents.
Try this simple spinach orange green smoothie with only 3 ingredients to get your daily dose of folic acid, potassium and vitamin C.
Spinach Orange Smoothie
Ingredients for the Spinach Orange Smoothie
- ½ frozen banana
- A tight handful of spinach
- 1 naval orange, sliced
Throw all into the blender with some water and blend to achieve smooth consistency.
You may wish to replace water with coconut water for some helpful electrolytes.
To detoxify the colon, the Chinese believe in the powers of legumes. Believe it or not, desserts can also be detoxifying in nature!
One common dessert is the red beans lotus seeds sweet soup.
Red Beans Lotus Seeds Sweet Soup
The ingredients are as follows:
- Red beans - 1 cup
- Lotus Seeds - 15 pieces
- Dried Tangerine Peel - 1 piece
- Brown sugar- 4 tbsp or to taste
Soak the red beans overnight. Add red beans and lotus seeds to 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.
Then add the tangerine peel and bring down the heat to a simmer until the beans are soft. It should take about 20-30 minutes.
Lastly, add the brown sugar for taste. This soup is excellent served both warm and chilled.
You may wish to replace the red beans with mung beans, and the recipe remains similar. Enjoy!