Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in the muscle layer of the uterus. Depending on the method of diagnosis a staggering 5 to 77% of women have been found to have fibroids. Fibroids can be very small or very large (up to the size of a watermelon!!)
Symptoms of fibroids depend on the size and location of the fibroid. Fibroids can cause pain, bloating or heavy periods.
We don’t understand exactly what causes the development of fibroids but risk factors include African descent, a family history of fibroids, being overweight and perimenopause. There is also a strong association of fibroids with high estrogen levels, a condition known as estrogen dominance.
While we don’t know exactly how fibroids form, here are five things you should do right now if you have fibroids.
Five Things You Need to Do if You Have Fibroids
Check Your Vitamin D Levels
If you have dark skin or live in colder climates (like Canada) you may have a vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of vitamin D can contribute to the development of fibroids and can lead to inflammation and altered insulin response.
If you have fibroids, you should see your Naturopathic Doctor or Medical Doctor to have your vitamin D levels assessed. A vitamin D supplement is recommended for all Canadians during the winter months, so knowing your current levels is important for determining your individualized optimal dose.
Love Your Gut
An imbalance in the levels of bacteria in your digestive tract could be contributing to fibroid growth. This imbalance, known as “dysbiosis”, can lead to increased production of inflammatory mediators which migrate to the pelvis and stimulate the growth of atypical cells that develop into fibroids.
Having dysbiosis can also lead to high levels of estrogen by promoting recirculation of estrogen rather than allowing the body to eliminate it.
Digestive dysbiosis can be caused by antacid use, antibiotics, stress, poor digestion, frequent illness and use of birth control pills.
Dysbiosis can be treated by your Naturopath with the use of probiotics, fermented foods, gut healing nutrients and botanicals.
Be Kind to Your Liver
Balancing hormones requires a healthy liver. The two-phase detoxification process in our livers that allows us to detoxify and eliminate estrogen can be influenced by our diet, stress, herbs and medications.
Make healthy choices every day to love your liver and support estrogen detoxification. Limit or eliminate alcohol, eat less gluten, drink green tea, and eat lots of leafy green vegetables. Your Naturopath may also recommend specific herbs to support the liver or a B complex vitamin supplement.
One of the most important things you can do if you have fibroids is to follow a hormone-balancing diet – one that decreases inflammation, balances blood sugar and prevents estrogen dominance.
Foods that can increase inflammation, raise insulin and blood sugar levels, and promote estrogen dominance should be limited or eliminated. These include:
- Red meat
- Dairy products
- Gluten containing grains
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Trans fats
Luckily there are also foods that can promote hormone balance and decrease inflammation. These include:
- Cold water fish
- Nuts and seeds (especially flaxseed)
- Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi and cauliflower
- Beans, peas, lentils, soybeans
See a Naturopathic Doctor
If you have fibroids you should consider seeing a Naturopath to get an individualized hormone balance plan. Your ND can identify possible causes of inflammation and imbalance in your life and work with you to find solutions to restore your body to a state of healthy balance. Your Naturopath can also prescribe nutritional supplements and botanical medicines to address your fibroids and overall state of health. You can find a licensed ND in your area by contacting the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors or the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.