What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids (also known as uterine myomas, leioma, fibroma, fibromyoma, or hysteromyoma) are solid muscle tissue growths in the uterus, and are the most common benign (non-cancerous) growth in women. Fibroids occur frequently, in about 20% of women over 20 years of age and in up to half of all women over the age of 40. Uterine fibroids are typically small in size (size of an apple seed to the size of a walnut), however in some cases they can become large.
Most fibroids do not cause any symptoms, but some women with fibroids can have:
- Heavy bleeding (which can be heavy enough to cause anemia) or painful periods
- Feeling of fullness in the pelvic area (lower stomach area)
- Enlargement of the lower abdomen
- Frequent urination
- Pain during sex
- Lower back pain
- Complications during pregnancy and labor, including a six-time greater risk of cesarean section
- Reproductive problems, such as infertility, which is very rare
Acupuncture, especially in conjunction with Chinese herbal medicine, can help to reduce the size of fibroids and help small fibroids disappear, prevent large fibroids from growing, and to relieve symptoms caused by fibroids.
Acupuncture increases endorphin levels in the blood, blocking the transmission of pain signals, and increasing adrenocorticotropic hormone levels. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, uterine fibroids are the result of blood stagnation in the uterus, which itself can be caused by a number other factors. Once those causes and patterns are determined, the appropriate treatment can be developed in order to address the various imbalances that result in uterine fibroids.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
In conjunction with acupuncture or as treatment on its own, Chinese herbal remedies are useful in treating uterine fibroids gently and naturally. Chinese herbal formulas are specially tailored for each individual case and are safe for breastfeeding. While acupuncture stimulates flow of energy and blood, Chinese herbal formulas are specially designed to replenish deficiencies in the endocrine, immune, and metabolic systems. In one study, fibroids either diminished or disappeared in 72% of patients who were given individually tailored herbal combinations after menstruation.
Nutrition & Diet
A healthy and balanced diet is essential in the treatment of unbalanced blood flow and hormone regulation, as food intake directly impacts the body’s natural ability to regulate hormones. Eliminate, or avoid, foods with trans-fatty acids, refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.
Lifestyle & Mind-Body Medicine
In addition to acupuncture and nutrition, learning relaxation techniques are greatly beneficial to general health and wellbeing. Chronic, or acute, lifestyle stress can have a wide variety of negative effects on the body, including reproductive organ blood flow and hormone regulation. Physical and psychological stress can make existing symptoms worse and delay overall internal healing.
Techniques that elicit the relaxation response (a state of deep relaxation in which the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate decrease, muscle tension relaxes, stress hormone levels fall, and the mind becomes tranquil), and relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga may aid greatly in bringing balance to mental and emotional states. Practicing focused deep-breathing, meditation, yoga, tai-chi and other activities are among those that can increase your chances of a healthy life and pregnancy. Listening to music, focused breathing, or being outside in nature are also effective methods of managing stress.