Fibroids are benign growths in the uterus that are not cancerous but are made up of muscle tissue. Fibroids can be as small as a pea or can grow as large as a melon.
It’s estimated that 20-50% of women have, or will have, fibroids at some time in their lives. They’re most common in women in their 30s and 40s.
Fibroids are named according to where in the uterus they grow.
- Intramural fibroids: these grow in the wall of the womb and are the most common type of fibroid.
- Subserous fibroids: these grow from the outer layer of the womb wall and sometimes grow on stalks. They can grow to be very large.
- Submucous fibroids: these develop in the muscle underneath the inner lining of the womb. They grow into the womb and can also grow on stalks which, if long enough, can hang through the cervix.
- Cervical fibroids: these grow in the wall of the cervix (neck of the womb) and are more difficult to remove.
If you have fibroids, you may have one or many. You may also have one type of fibroid or several different types.
Since an estimated 75% of women with fibroids don’t have symptoms, many women don’t know they have them. Whether or not you have symptoms depends on the size of the fibroids and where they are in your womb.
The most common symptoms are:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Abdominal pain or pressure
- Pain during sex
- Changes in bladder habits – frequency, urgency, difficulty urinating
- Changes in bowel habits – constipation, haemorrhoids
Some women with fibroids also develop anaemia as a result of heavy menstrual bleeding. Anaemia can make you feel weak, dizzy and tired.
If you suspect you are anaemic, it’s important to have this confirmed via a simple Anaemia Blood Test.
High oestrogen levels: fibroids seem to be influenced by high levels of this female hormone. This would explain why they appear during a woman’s middle years (when oestrogen levels are high) and stop growing after the menopause (when oestrogen levels drop).
Oestrogen levels can be measured with a Comprehensive Female Hormone Test. Smart Nutrition’s nutritional therapists can assess the overall balance between oestrogen and the other main female hormone progesterone, and put together a specific diet and supplement plan to help curb excess oestrogen and minimise fibroid enlargement.
Being overweight: women who weigh over 70kg may be more likely to have fibroids, as excess body weight can raise the level of oestrogen in the body. Maintaining a healthy body weight can help to reduce excess oestrogen.
For safe and effective weight loss, it’s best to consult a qualified nutritional therapist who can support and motivate you through the process. For more information about Smart Nutrition’s Weight Loss Packages, please use the link at the bottom of the page.
Poor diet: research shows that a diet high in saturated fats (such as those from red meat) combined with sugar and alcohol can predispose a woman to a greater risk of fibroids, as these foods make it difficult for the body to regulate hormones properly. Conversely, certain fruits and vegetables may help the body to regulate oestrogen levels: key nutrients such as magnesium, calcium and potassium can reduce painful cramps and bloating.
NutrEval gives a comprehensive overview of your overall nutrient status and can be used to target key problem areas that may be exacerbating the condition.
Stress: stress interferes with the balance of female hormones in the body. A very stressful lifestyle can exacerbate any imbalance between the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
If you think stress may be a contributing to your fibroids, an Adrenal Stress Test can provide you with insight.
Sluggish liver: the liver regulates and removes excess oestrogen from the body. Compromised liver function can cause oestrogen levels to build up, feeding the growth of fibroids.