In candid episodes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, actress, Cynthia Bailey opens up about her struggles and journey with uterine fibroids and how it affected many aspects of her life. She was able to shed light to a very common, yet very under exposed disorder that affects thousands of women.
About 20-80% of women suffer from uterine fibroid at least once in their lifetime according to a major women’s health site, womenshealth.gov. The majority of women who suffer from uterine fibroid are those approaching menopause, women who have issues with hormonal imbalance and women who are overweight.
In most cases, fibroids develop between the ages of 35-45 and increases in likelihood for women who have never been pregnant. Studies have shown that after suffering from fibroid once, there is a strong tendency of having it over and over again.
Other lifestyle factors like high alcohol intake, high-fat diet and lack of vitamin B can also increase chances of suffering from uterine fibroid.
So what are they and how can we shrink fibroids naturally?
Fibroids are generally noncancerous tumors that erupt out of the muscles in the uterine wall. It is one of the most common reasons why many women undergo hysterectomies. The precise cause is not yet known but it is suspected that one of the female sex hormones, estrogen contributes immensely to why women suffer from this condition .
Due to the suspected link with estrogen, any factor that results to an increase in estrogen levels such as hormonal imbalance or artificial hormones tends to be associated with higher chance of fibroid. On the flip side, studies have shown that when estrogen levels decline such as after menopause; there is a much less likelihood of having fibroids.
The reality is that the cause of uterine fibroid is complex. Factors that may cause the growth are inflammation, genetics, estrogen domination, insufficient progesterone and poor digestive health. According to a publication on the Journal Human Reproduction Update in 1996, abnormal genetic growth factors resulted in irregular blood supply which in turn led to fibroid formation.
Uterine fibroids are usually taken as non-cancerous growth and typically only need to be treated when women experience severe symptoms. Many women would have fibroid without experiencing any of the symptoms and in such cases no treatment is needed and the conditions typically goes away on its own.
For some women, it can create all kinds of physical and emotional problem that make it difficult for them to carry on with their daily lives. Some of the common symptoms are outlined below.
Symptoms of uterine fibroids
Examples of symptoms that could be experienced by a woman who has uterine fibroid are:
- Excessive menstrual Bleeding, fatigue and anemia
- Dyspareunia or experience of soreness during sexual intercourse
- Pelvic heaviness
- Excessive emptying of bowels and urinating
- Abrupt and intense cramps
- Intense pain
Conventional treatment for remove uterine fibroids
The most widely known method of treating the abnormal growth is through hysterectomy which is the removal of the entire uterus or myomectomy which is the removal of the solid mass from the uterus for women who still want to remain fertile and uterine artery embolization.
These conventional treatments of fibroids is usually reserved for women with severe cases of the problem such like Cynthia Bailey had where it was completely disrupting her life. The good news is that most times fibroids are harmless and usually does not pose a problem and mild cases can be managed with certain lifestyle changes, diet and herbs.
Natural treatment to manage fibroid symptoms
There are alternative, safer and natural ways to treat fibroid and manage its symptoms. When tackling fibroids naturally, the goal is to look for foods and herbs that manage or reduce estrogen levels as this is commonly associated as the cause of the growth.
An initial and most crucial step is to eliminate overload of estrogens in the woman’s body through weight loss, reducing alcohol consumption, the intake of saturated fats and incorporating high-fiber foods into daily diet. Calcium D-glucarate which is commonly present in cherries, oranges, apples, broccoli and cabbage also help to eliminate excess estrogen from the body.
Foods and herbs that lower estrogen levels and shrink fibroids naturally
- Drinking green tea regularly has been recommended regularly to help shrink and prevent fibroids.
- DIM supplements
- High fiber foods to help rid the body of toxins and other unhealthy buildup that can disrupt the digestive system and hormone levels.
- Black Cohosh
- Dong Quai
- Raw organic apple cider vinegar is a great cleanser to help in promoting waste removal.
Vitex chasteberry for the natural management of fibroids
The most common and most efficient herb that is used for treatment of fibroid is vitex chaste berry, a common and widely used herb in women’s hormonal health. This herbal medicine has been shown to alleviate widespread symptoms associated with fibroids like abdominal pain and intense bleeding.
So how does vitex help to alleviate fibroids and its symptoms? Scientific research has shown that vitex works by modifying the levels of estrogen produced in the pituitary gland by increasing the level progesterone hormones. Think of progesterone as the level headed girlfriend, that keeps estrogen levels in check.
Essentially, vitex is able to reduce the level of estrogen by enhancing the production of progesterone.
It is often recommended for use in natural management of many women’s health conditions such as irregular periods, improving fertility, treatment of fibroids, perimenopause and menopause symptoms, PCOS, and in some cases endometriosis.
Interesting fact: In Germany, where medical doctors regularly prescribe herbal medicines for health problems, Vitex is the top prescription for PMS. It is often recommended more than birth control for women’s hormonal issues.
The herb can be taken as liquid, capsules and or extract. For capsules, I highly recommend Nature’s Way Vitex here. Usually it has to be taken over the course of a 6-month period to see results. The usual daily dosage is 100-30o mg in capsules or 1 to 2 full droppers of tincture two times daily.
Natural methods to prevent uterine fibroids
Promoting hormonal balance is the starting point of preventing excessive growth of fibroids in the first place. In the article Balance Hormones Naturally Series, we discuss some ways and lifestyle habits women can implement to help achieve balance.
Eating the right foods, exercising daily and incorporating the right herbs into daily diet will ultimately help to keep symptoms at bay.
Check out the video of Cynthia Bailey from the Real Housewives of Atlanta discussing her battle with fibroids on The Doctors.