The majority of women in their reproductive years develop uterine fibroids at some point during their lives. That’s not a small number of women! Uterine fibroids are masses that can range in size from that of a pea to that of a melon, and symptoms can vary from none at all to heavy or painful periods, bleeding between periods, pain during intercourse, and lower back pain, to name a few. Most uterine fibroids are benign.
Whew. It’s a relief to know that fibroids don’t often turn cancerous. But that list of symptoms isn’t insignificant, and when you consider that uterine fibroids will affect almost all women at some point in their reproductive years — that is a lot of pain for a lot of people for a lot of years!
The good news is you can take steps to biohack your hormones and treat fibroids naturally. Here’s everything you need to know about taking a natural approach to easing the symptoms of fibroids.
What Causes Uterine Fibroids?
According to Western medicine, no one knows for sure what causes fibroids to form.
Genetics likely plays a role; if your mother or siblings experience fibroids, you are more likely to have them, too.
Hormones also play a role. Research suggests that fibroids are affected by your hormone levels. Specifically, excess estrogen in the body seems to make fibroids grow, and they will often decrease in size after menopause, when overall levels of estrogen are lower. So one of the ways to treat uterine fibroids naturally is to address estrogen excess—or estrogen dominance—in the body’s ecosystem.
Ultimately, fibroids have multiple root causes, including genetics, hormones, and other factors like the health of the microbiome and the level of inflammation in the body. The more you know about all of these factors and what drives them — which I dive into below — the better set you are to ease fibroids naturally.
One key takeaway that I want you to have is that an overlooked root cause of hormone imbalances and period problems are connected to disruptions in the infradian rhythm, the innate 28-day hormone cycle that regulates the menstrual cycle and five other key areas of the body. The more you begin to live in line with the natural phases of your infradian rhythm — which is what the FLO Protocol is all about — the more you will bring your hormones into balance and heal fibroids and other hormone-related conditions.
What is Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance happens in the body when there is too much estrogen in relation to progesterone. This can happen as the result of the foods we eat, the beauty and body care products we use, stress, poor sleep, other environmental factors—or a combination of all of the above. It can be very hard to completely avoid estrogen excess because we’re surrounded by chemicals that disrupt hormonal harmony every day. Endocrine disruptors are in everything from our furniture to our nail polish and household cleaning supplies.
What Your Doctor Will Tell You About Treating Fibroids
At the doctor’s office, a diagnosis of uterine fibroids often means one thing: a prescription for the birth control pill. That’s because most doctors consider the pill a way to control the growth of fibroids and the symptoms you’re experiencing. But the problem is that this “treatment” doesn’t actually treat the root cause of uterine fibroids or actually address uterine health long-term. In fact, hormonal birth control comes with a slew of side effects that ultimately make hormonal imbalances and fibroid growth worse.
In some cases, doctors offer surgery to remove fibroids, but an invasive procedure (with a high risk of generating scar tissue that can complicate future pregnancies) isn’t an ideal choice unless absolutely necessary.
But there are steps you can take to help address fibroids. Despite what your doctor may have told you, medications and surgery are not your only options. You can use natural strategies to improve the size of the fibroids you have now, prevent the potential growth of new fibroids, and address the problem.
6 Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
How can you tell if fibroids are one of the root causes of your period problems and other symptoms? Here are six telltale signs:
- Heavy flow. This is one of those symptoms that often gets lumped into the “just bad luck” category, but heavy flow can be a sign of fibroids.
- Periods that last more than 7 days. If your period tends to run longer than a week, you might think (once again) that you just drew the short end of the menstrual stick. But overly long periods can also be a sign of fibroids.
- Feeling like you have to pee all the time… but nothing comes out. You might never have thought of this as a symptom of an underlying hormone imbalance because having to pee all the time seems quirky, yes, but not necessarily a sign that something is wrong. But, you guessed it, this too can be a sign of uterine fibroids.
- Pelvic pain/pressure. Another potential symptom of fibroids.
- Constipation. Constipation can strike for any number of reasons, many unrelated to hormones, but if you experience it in combination with other symptoms, it could be related to uterine fibroids.
- Backaches and/or leg pain. Like constipation, a sore back and other aches might strike you as normal and not connected to your endocrine system. But in some cases, just like constipation, this can be connected to fibroids.
Fibroids are often diagnosed during a routine pelvic exam and confirmed with ultrasound. If you suspect that you have uterine fibroids, consult with a trusted healthcare practitioner.
What Are The Worst Foods For Fibroids
When it comes to balancing your hormones and decreasing fibroids, food plays an important role. What you eat — and what you don’t eat — is critical to help rein in fibroids. That’s because what we eat affects our body’s levels of inflammation, which we want to be low, and our levels of estrogen, which we also want to be low. When it comes to food, your first step is to remove inflammatory foods and foods that may directly or indirectly contribute to estrogen dominance.
Dairy – Conventional dairy products are full of artificial hormones, including synthetic estrogen, which is given to dairy cows to make them grow and produce unnatural amounts of milk. Eating dairy with synthetic estrogen will add to a high-estrogen environment in your body. The antibiotics in regular dairy also have a destructive effect on your gut microbiome, which is essential for estrogen metabolism. The bad news about dairy doesn’t stop there. Dairy is an inflammatory food and inflammation in the body can fuel fibroids. If you have uterine fibroids or another hormone imbalance, I recommend giving up dairy entirely. If you choose to eat dairy, opt for organic goats’ or sheeps’ milk, cheese, and yogurts as these do not contain A1 casein, which can be problematic.
Processed red meat – Processed red meat from factory farmed cows is injected with antibiotics and fed with GMO grains and soy, is another food type to avoid if you have fibroids. As part of the FLO Living protocol, I recommend eating small amounts of red meat during specific phases of your infradian rhythm — and to always choose organic and grass-fed/pastured meats.
White bread, pasta, potatoes – Eating refined carbohydrates is no different to eating piles of sugar. Both refined carbs and sugar increase insulin and trigger blood sugar imbalances — both of which add fuel to the fire of hormone imbalances. On top of that, the gluten found in wheat products, like white bread, is inflammatory and messes with the microbiome, where much of your estrogen is metabolized and processed. Plus, most wheat is treated with the pesticide glyphosate, which disrupts hormones and contributes to hormone imbalances. I recommend cutting out refined sugar and refined carbohydrate products as part of a natural approach to heal fibroids. It’s best to say goodbye to gluten, too.
Caffeine + Alcohol — Over-consumption of coffee and/or alcohol, which for women means just 2 cups of coffee or two high-caffeine drinks a day or a glass of wine every night, can tax the liver, hampering its ability to process and eliminate excess estrogen. Like the microbiome, the liver plays a vital role in safeguarding optimal hormone balance — and when it’s busy getting rid of coffee and alcohol, it cannot do its hormone-balancing job properly. Just a couple of glasses of wine significantly raises your estrogen levels. And coffee suppresses ovulation, thereby suppressing production of progesterone and increasing the likelihood of estrogen dominance.
Foods That Help Heal Balance Hormones and Ease Fibroids
So what should you eat to help keep fibroids at bay? Food is a major component of balancing hormones and erasing period problems, including fibroids. The FLO Living protocol is a food-first strategy that helps heal a variety of period problems. We counsel people with ovaries on not just what to eat but when to eat specific foods in accordance with their infradian rhythm, or their innate 28-day hormone cycle.
Flax seeds are part of a food group called “selective estrogen receptor modulators” that inhibit estrogen sensitivity in the uterus, which is beneficial when you have fibroids. They are also a fantastic source of fiber which you need to move excess estrogen out of your bowels as quickly as possible to eliminate it from your body. Finally, flax seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (which reduce the insulin resistance and inflammation that can suppress liver function) and lignans (which bind to estrogen receptors and prevent absorption of excess estrogen).
Soy isn’t my favorite food for women with hormonal issues, but in the case of fibroids, certain forms of soy can be beneficial. Specifically seek out non-processed, organic soy in the form of tempeh and miso to add to your diet. This kind of soy has an anti-estrogenic effect on the uterus. Avoid all processed soy like soy cheese, soy meat and other meat and dairy replacements. Moderation is key here and I wouldn’t recommend having soy every day, but unprocessed and organic soy is a useful dietary tool for managing fibroids.
Beans are an excellent source of fiber and protein, plus they have a low glycemic impact for most women, which reduces the kind inflammation that can increase fibroid growth. You should focus on kidney beans, lentils, and mung beans. Beans and legumes can be a healthy protein replacement if you’re working to reduce meat (which can also help address fibroids).
Whole grains are the best substitute for white processed stuff like bread, pasta, and noodles, and will help with insulin stabilization. High insulin levels from white starchy stuff (which acts like sugar in the body) is a factor in making fibroids grow. Whole grains are also a great source of fiber and will help to speed up the process and elimination of excess estrogen.
Pears and apples are liver-supporting foods that contain lots of fiber, along with a flavonoid named phloretin, which impairs tumor growth.
How to Fix Fibroids Naturally
Happily, there’s a lot you can do with nutrition and lifestyle to address the hormone imbalances that underlie uterine fibroids. Here are the key natural remedies you can use to address fibroids naturally:
Understand your cycle. You can help bring hormones into balance by tracking your cycle and shifting what you eat and how (and how) much you move so that your daily routine matches each distinct phase of your infradian rhythm, or your 28-day hormone cycle. When you do this, you’re using The Cycle Syncing Method™ and if you’re serious about biohacking your hormones and easing symptoms, this is the first best place to start. The practice goes well beyond food, too, including when and how to exercise to optimize your hormones and how to prioritize your to-do list in each phase of your cycle to be your happiest and most successful. By supporting the infradian rhythm, you reduce stress on multiple systems of the body allowing them to function properly. A good analogy is how we now know to support the circadian rhythm with consistent self care to avoid disease.
Eat to balance estrogen. I mentioned this above, but it is worth repeating here: it’s important to eliminate dairy and meat raised with synthetic hormones that can act like estrogen in the body, and to prioritize foods that help modulate and balance estrogen, like flax seeds, beans, whole grains, pears, and apples.
Balance your microbiome. The microbiome contains a colony of bacteria that helps metabolize estrogen. This colony is called the estrobolome—and when the microbiome is healthy, so is the estrobolome. But when the good and bad bugs in the microbiome are out of balance, the estrobolome can’t do its job efficiently and estrogen builds up. Ditching sugar, dairy, and gluten is the first step in healing the microbiome. (If you’re ready to give up those estrobolome-destroying foods, try my free 4-Day Detox.) Another key to building and maintaining a healthy microbiome is supplementing with a great probiotic.
Cut out chemicals. Research suggests that endocrine-disrupting chemicals—like those found in everyday cleaning supplies, cosmetic and body care products, lawn treatment chemicals, upholstered furniture, vinyl products (like shower curtains), and plastic food containers and plastic food wrap—are strongly linked to the development of uterine fibroids. The list of things to avoid (the shower curtain?!) might feel long and overwhelming, but avoiding these chemicals is easy—and, in great news, many of the chemical-free options are less expensive than conventional options. For example, baking soda and vinegar for cleaning the house can be bought in bulk—and for pennies on the dollar compared to chemical cleaning agents. Opting not to treat your lawn with chemicals is free! If you’re still using plastic food storage containers, you can replace them over time with glass and stainless steel options (which last a lifetime); same with a shower curtain made of healthier material.
Support liver function. The estrobolome metabolizes used-up estrogen. Then the liver gets it ready for elimination. So if your liver is sluggish (just like if your microbiome is imbalanced) estrogen can build up in the body. The liver thrives when we eat specific liver-nourishing foods—and it gets clogged and sluggish when we eat high fructose-containing processed foods and when we drink caffeine. You can also use targeted supplements to improve liver function. The supplements in my BALANCE Supplement Kit help support liver function — as well as microbiome health and overall hormone balance. The BALANCE Supplement kit is a great way to kickstart hormonal balancing and ease fibroids. I recommend them for all women who experience period problems, including fibroids.
Finding the Heart to Take Action
You might not know this, but a diagnosis of uterine fibroids means that your daughter is more likely to also develop uterine fibroids once she hits puberty. Try thinking about it from this perspective – what would you do to prevent your child from going through the pain, the heavy bleeding, the backaches and the other ensuing health issues that you have gone through? I’d imagine you’d say – everything and anything possible.
I truly believe that we need to treat ourselves like we would treat our own daughters – with the same love, compassion, and care. You in this very moment have the fierce heart of a mother to turn that love into powerful self-care for you.
I meet so many women who say, “If only I had known what was coming, I would have made different choices for myself far earlier in my life.” This is especially true for women who have suffered with fibroids. You can take your health into your own hands and make a difference.
To kickstart this process you need to try my 4-Day Hormone Detox Plan and then ease into https://www.floliving.com/natural-cures-period-pcos-pms/The Cycle Syncing Method™ of living in your Flo. Once you get started, it becomes second nature. I know you’d do it for your daughter, but I want you to do it for yourself.
The Emotion-Fibroid Connection
At FLO Living, we understand that our mental health and physical health are connected. Stress and unprocessed anger can play a role in developing a toxic internal environment where problems like fibroids thrive. Traditional Chinese Medicine points to a connection between the emotional state and fibroid growth. Fibroids are specifically indicative of the energy of the Sacral Chakra or Second Chakra in this practice. Abuse, trauma, blocked creativity, resentment can all act as blockers that need to be worked through.
More and more research indicates how stress can impact our physical health. Stress weakens the immune system and suppresses the overall optimal function of the body. An increase in cortisol, the stress hormone, causes an imbalance in progesterone – creating progesterone deficiency and estrogen dominance. Our body’s have a feedback loop and the impact of stress and anger on our physical health can be profound and extend far beyond raised blood pressure.
Investigating your relationship with stress and anger and finding healthy outlets for their expression can be a key component in your healing journey. This can mean managing daily stress levels, prioritizing self-care, and elevating the amount of pleasure in your life.
Always remember that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you. You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
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