A complete guide to uterine fibroid diagnosis and treatments using conventional and holistic methods

Uterine fibroids are one form of non-cancerous growths that build up on muscular uterus wall and their size varies from very small like a pea to grapefruit. The main reason for their growth seems to be the change in estrogen hormone levels in the body since these fibroids grow at the time of pregnancy and then start to shrink after menopause. The problem is quite common with almost 25% of women aged 30 or more face it during their lifetime.

The incidence of this uterine disorder is more common in women of African origin. Many women diagnosed with fibroids have a family history of the uterus disorder. Fibroids are responsible for almost a third of all hysterectomy procedures.

Fibroids are not always harmful for the uterus. Many women with fibroids, even large sized ones, do not experience any symptom, and are usually unaware of the presence of tumors in their uterus which might be accidentally detected during a pelvic examination. In some women, the size of the tumor might remain unchanged for many years, whereas in others, they might grow steadily throughout the reproductive years.

Fibroids are sensitive to the hormone estrogen. High levels of the hormone during the childbearing age stimulate fibroid growth, and after the depletion of the estrogen reserve after menopause, the benign tumors in the uterus subside naturally. They are more likely to develop in overweight or obese women, women who experienced early puberty (before the age of 10) and women who have never given birth. However, they stop growing after menopause.

Causes of uterine fibroids

Obesity

Age, genes, heredity, hormonal changes and environmental factors are the main causes of fibroids. Ethnic origin is also a cause and women having African origin are more prone to developing these fibroids. Obesity, red meat diet, early menstruation, deficiency of vitamin D and consuming alcohol are other causes.

Uterine Fibroids – Symptoms

Uterine Fibroids – Symptoms

Many women do not have any symptoms, while others may have some or all of the below mentioned symptoms:

  • Bleeding in-between periods
  • Painful sex
  • Painful periods
  • Pelvic pain
  • Reproductive problems like miscarriages or infertility
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Backache

Diagnosis of the problem

As many women do not have the symptoms associated with uterine fibroids, a proper diagnosis is required in many cases involving:

Pelvic examination

Pelvic examination

Fibroids can be felt as lumps in a pelvic examination. This is the first diagnostic test for any fibroid related condition and the doctor also checks for ovarian cysts. Abnormal uterine bleeding is also checked as this can be related to fibroid presence. Pelvic examination is a non invasive procedure and is usually accomplished in a single visit. After pelvic examination, in case fibroid presence is confirmed the patient is put under medical surveillance.

Dilation and curettage

In dilation and curettage, cervix of the uterus is dilated so that uterine lining can be removed. Commonly dilation and curettage is used to check for abnormal uterine bleeding. This is also used to check for any potential symptoms of fibroid presence. Dilation and curettage is an invasive process and the patient requires hospitalization before the surgery can be performed.

Endometrial biopsy

Endometrial biopsy

In endometrial biopsy, a sample of tissue is taken from lining of the uterus and is examined microscopically for any abnormal cell growth related to fibroids.A speculum is inserted into vagina to see through the cervix. A small plastic tube is further inserted into the uterine cavity. A sample of the lining is collected and analyzed under microscope for any unusual cell growth. Endometrial biopsy is an invasive process and the patient needs to be hospitalized during the process.

Hysteroscopy:

This procedure is used to detect the presence of fibroids. In hysteroscopy, a long rigid tube called as hysteroscope is inserted into vagina and reaches the uterus through the cervix. The hysteroscope is equipped with a fiber optic light and a camera that allows an unrestricted view. This procedure is non invasive and does not require an incision to be made. However, as general anesthesia is administered, the patient may be kept under brief observation. Hysteroscopy is useful in identifying the presence of fibroids besides analyzing endometrial ablation.

Trans-vaginal scan:

Trans-vaginal scan

Here a small scanner is used for viewing inside the uterus by inserting the scanner through the vagina.

Magnetic resonance imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging is used in addition to ultrasound technique to judge the presence of fibroids. In magnetic resonance imaging, a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and computers are used to document images of soft tissues, bones and other relevant organs associated with fibroid presence.

The images are then analyzed on a computer monitor thereby helping the doctor identify the medical condition of the patient in a better manner.

Magnetic resonance imaging being a non invasive test does not require the patient to undergo hospitalization. The patient can go back the same day and take medications as advised by the doctor.

Ultrasound:

Ultrasound

This is a standard imaging technique that is undertaken to check the presence of fibroids. Transabdominal and transvaginal ultrasounds are the common techniques adopted to check for fibroid presence. In an ultrasound, sound waves are used to image the uterus and ovaries. While the ultrasound probe is moved over the abdominal area in an transabdominal ultrasound, the same is inserted into the vagina in a transvaginal ultrasound.

A modified variation of ultrasound known as hysterosonography is also used in certain cases. In this saline water is infused into the uterus that helps enhance uterus visualization.Ultrasound is a non invasive procedure and the patient does not require to make multiple visits to the hospital.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options available for uterine fibroids, let us look at some of them.

Medication:

Medication

Medication may include GnRHA, tranexamic acid as tablets, contraceptive pills, anti-inflammatory medicine and LNG-IUS or Levonorgestrel intrauterine system.

Surgery:

hysterectomy

Various surgical options exists like hysterectomy in which the uterus is removed, myomectomy where only the fibroids are removed, uterine artery embolization to stop blood supply to fibroids and MRGPL ablation in which laser is used in conjunction with magnetic resonance to shrink the fibroids. Women nearing menopause can opt for hysterectomy while young women planning to have child in future opt for myomectomy.

Alternative Treatment:

It includes herbal and Chinese medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbs, supplements, and green tea.

Exploring New Fibroid Treatment Options for Greater Relief

New Fibroid Treatment Options

New fibroid treatment options have been developed which are non-invasive and effective. Let’s take a closer look.

What is fibroid embolization?

The preferred methods of treatment for uterine fibroids are hysterectomy and fibroid embolization. Though fibroid embolization is not a new fibroid treatment option, it is one which very few women know about.

In this method, inert particles are released to block blood supply to the uterine fibroids. The fibroids shrink in a few months or weeks, as they are deprived of blood supply. The process takes about 2 hours and the patient are discharged the next day.

New fibroid treatment options

One of the latest treatment option for fibroids are oral drugs such as Ulipristal and Elagolix.

The Cleveland Hospital’s Gynaecology and Obstetrics have been researching on oral drugs to treat fibroids.

Elagolix, GnRH, an antagonist, shuts down the production of estrogen by especially targeting pituitary gland. This new uterine fibroid treatment has great potential, as reducing estrogen can shrink fibroids. According to the researchers, Elagolix could be an effective transitional therapy to help a woman get ready for more conservational treatment, such as surgery or expectant treatment.

The Cleveland researchers are also conducting a study about the effectiveness of the drug Ulipristal. This drug is already available over the counter (in higher dose) as a morning-after medicine in America. In Europe and Canada, Ulipristal is already being used to treat bleeding due to uterine fibroids. The drug works by controlling progesterone levels within the body.

High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)

In this treatment, fibroids are targeted by using ultrasound of high intensity, which is focused on the fibroids. This deprives the tumors/fibroids of blood supply, leading to them shrinking and dying. HIFU is a more refined method than embolization, in which the entire uterus is deprived of blood supply. Embolization does kill fibroids but it destroys some parts of the uterus too. 

Which is better – Conventional or Holistic Treatment?

Conventional or Holistic Treatment

 

Many people are nowadays getting inclined to use holistic treatment methods instead of relying on conventional methods for curing uterine fibroids. Let us look at some of the differences between these two treatment methods making people do the changeover.

Solving the root cause:

Holistic methods attempt to look at the problem’s root cause while conventional treatment methods focus on symptoms only.

Time Taken:

In many of the conventional treatments, such as surgery, the results are immediate while holistic methods take more time before you get to see the results.

Treatment Plan:

In holistic plan, the process is ongoing and entails many lifestyle changes over a long period, which is why results achieved are also sustained for long term. On the other hand, conventional approach involves a procedure and only a couple of follow up visits for monitoring the condition.

Personalized Treatment:

uterine fibroid

Holistic treatment plans are developed based on an individual’s condition, while conventional methods use a common benchmark for all patients.

Side effects:

In conventional the likelihood of side effects is more than a possibility whereas in holistic treatment methods there are no side effects.

Permanent Results:

Several people report recurrence of fibroids and surgical procedures only remove the large fibroids while leaving out the smaller ones. On the other hand, if holistic treatment is followed with dedication and discipline then the results are permanent.

Other ways of dealing with uterine fibroid tumors

Fresh pineapple that contains Bromale

Improper food habits are the main reason behind the occurrence of fibroids whereas this could be effectively fought back by combining diet, exercise and alternative cures to remove fibroids. Following are tips that could help you cure these tumors the natural way.

Improper food habits are the main reason behind the occurrence of fibroids whereas this could be effectively fought back by combining diet, exercise and alternative cures to remove fibroids. Following are tips that could help you cure these tumors the natural way.

  • Birth control pills should be strictly avoided as they cause hormonal imbalance and lead to growth of uterine fibroids. Diaphragm or condoms should therefore be preferred over these pills.
  • Diet that contains adequate amounts of fiber and whole grain foods, fresh fruits and vegetables should be taken regularly.
  • Fresh pineapple that contains Bromale that reduces inflammation should be a part of your diet.
  • Plant yoghurt with live cultures is helpful in relieving bloating caused by tumors.
  • Fried foods, animal fats, hydrogenated fats and oils, refined sugars and alcohols should be avoided.
  • Flax seeds should be ground and used in salads, soups and drinks as they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and reduce inflammation.
  • Many forms of yoga are known to shrink the size of fibroids considerably. These include positions like Bharadvajasana, Janu Sirsasana which are extremely effective in opening up of the abdomen area. It should be kept in mind to change the yoga positions with the variations in the size of the fibroids. Best would be to consult a yoga trainer to guide you throughout.
  • Include sea vegetables in your diet, as these are rich sources of iodine and help in shrinking the size of the tumors. This may also help in the treatment of the fibroids.
  • According to studies garlic has been found to resist tumor growth and is beneficial for the immune system since it contains powerful antioxidants.
  • Vitamin C is yet another potential way to resist tumor growth since it is a strong antioxidant and also keeps you safe from infections.
  • Most importantly you should necessarily take some personal time and effort for your own health since any treatment is not going to work instantly but requires patience and perseverance.

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