Uterine fibroids are a common problem that most women aren’t even aware of. July has been declared the fibroid awareness month to resolve this issue and educate women about the complications, causes, and options for the best treatment of uterine fibroids. In this write-up, we will cover the basic information on uterine fibroids, common causes, complications, and what you can do on your own to prevent the disease or its progress. So let’s begin with the most basic question.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Medically, fibroids are non-cancerous growths in the uterus that appear during childbearing age. Approx. 80% of uterine fibroids occur between 30-55 years of age and the number is rising among Indian women.
Fibroids are accompanied by a range of symptoms that go from heavy menstrual bleeding to miscarriages, infertility, fatigue, pain, and weakness due to blood loss. It is normal to have a heavy flow during periods, but if you have to use XXL pads or tampons for several days every month, it indicates uterine fibroids. The problem is more common and complicated than you may think.
Fibroids may either grow silently or result in a range of symptoms that interrupt normal life. Some of the commonly noted ones include:
- Leg and back pain.
- Discomfort in rectum, constipation, and diarrhoea.
- Pain during sex.
- Painful periods accompanied by heavy bleeding.
- Constant weakness and fatigue.
- Bladder and bowel dysfunction.
- Swelling or bloating in the lower abdomen.
- Intense pain and pressure in the pelvic region along with debilitating cramps.
Uterine Fibroids Reasons
The real reason behind uterine fibroids is still a matter of research. According to Ayurveda, an imbalance between the three life-sustaining doshas is one of the prime reasons for uterine fibroids. If you talk specifically, it is a Kapha dosha with slight disturbance in the other two doshas. If the patient is bleeding, it is a sign of aggravated pitta and the presence of Apana Vata (faulty Vata dosha) in the uterus.
Uterine Fibroids Complications
Uterine fibroids are not life-threatening but may result in discomfort. If left untreated or overlooked for a long time, it may interfere with pregnancy, chances of conception, and heavy blood loss. Another side-effect includes anaemia and fatigue and the requirement for blood transfusion.
Uterine Fibroids Home Remedies
Most fibroids shrink after menopause. Clinical treatment is not needed unless the symptoms start interfering with the normal course of life. Surgery or incisive treatments is the last option and most fibroids can be treated without surgery. Ayurveda suggests several home remedies and natural treatments that can shrink fibroids on their own. Here are a few things you may try on your own.
Several clinical studies prove that excess weight increases risk of fibroids. A surplus amount of fat cells release excess estrogen that creates fibroids. So, if you may make attempts towards weight loss, it can decrease the risk of fibroids.
Diet is another essential factor in the treatment of fibroids. If you know what to eat and what not to eat, it can significantly reduce the risk and effects of fibroids.
- What To Avoid: Excess of refined carbohydrates can trigger or worsen the state of fibroids. The patient must avoid flour, pasta, white rice, corn syrup, red meat, boxed cereals, potato chips, baked goods, crackers, and excess junk food.
- What To Eat: A fibre rich diet is highly beneficial in balancing hormones, preventing excessive weight gain, and curbing appetite. Doctors suggest that brightly coloured foods like vegetables and fruits bring down inflammation and curb the risk for fibroids. Make sure you include plenty of those in your diet. Other whole foods good for fibroids are dried fruits, cooked veggies, beans, lentils, whole grains, and brown rice.
Vitamins and Supplements
Dairy products are quite essential in reducing fibroids. They are rich in phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. Most of these nutritional elements prevent the growth of fibroids. Uterine fibroids intensify menstrual pain, cramping, and bloating. A rich diet of omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-1 must be incorporated into the diet of a fibroids patient.
Some studies suggest that there is a direct link between fibroids and high blood pressure. If you know how to manage your blood pressure, it will help in bringing down a lot of health risks including fibroids. The patient must limit foods with excessive sodium and salt. Regular exercise is compulsory.
A number of herbal remedies are known to be effective in reducing fibroids. It is better to consult an Ayurvedic practitioner before you start taking any herbal remedies. Avoid going for any DIY methods or practices in this respect. There are several herbs like mulethi, Haldi, and Shatavari that are considered helpful in reducing fibroids. But their dosage needs to be monitored according to the state of fibroids and the patient. So, consult a doctor before starting any such medicine.
Green tea has a bioflavonoid called ECGC that shrinks the number and size of fibroids. Regular intake of green tea can thus be very helpful in detoxification and reduction of inflammation due to fibroids.
Yoga For Uterine Fibroids
Yoga is quite helpful in the successful management of uterine fibroids. Both pranayam and yoga asanas can help in the rectification of fibroids. Here are some asanas and pranayamas that have proven to be useful in fibroids.
- Kapalbhati: Kapalbhati is basic pranayama that includes forceful exhalation through abdominal muscles. It is one of the best exercises recommended for the uterus. Women who practice kapalbhati every day for 5 minutes seldom suffer from uterine fibroids. Regular kapalbhati improves blood circulation and regulates hormones in our body, one of the basic causes of fibroids. Ask any yoga or Ayurveda practitioner and they will confirm it to you.
- Anuloma Viloma or Alternate Breathing: It is a common form of breathing exercise that includes inhalation and exhalation through alternate nostrils. It is very helpful in increasing the supply of oxygen to all parts of the body including the womb. The overall impact is on blood circulation and hormone regulation which corrects the issues related to hormonal irregularities. Daily practice for 5 -10 minutes is mandatory.
- Bridge Pose or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana: A highly useful exercise with respect to abdominal and pelvic muscles. It is a supported version of the normal bridge pose. To perform this asana, you must lie down on your yoga mat on your back and bend your knees. Try to draw your feet as close to the buttocks as possible while keeping your arms straight to the sides. Then push your tailbone up as you exhale while trying to keep your feet firmly on the floor. If you are new, you can always ask someone to place a block or cushion under your sacrum to support your back. Draw the shoulder blades together and slowly get your buttocks down to the original position.
- Bharadvajasana: Bhardvaja’s asana or twist can be very useful for women suffering from fibroids symptoms. It helps the body in accommodating fibroid growth and opens the abdomen to this new development. To perform the twist, seat yourself on the yoga mat and place both your legs extended in front of you. Shift all your weight to the right side while bending your knees and then slowly swing your legs to the left while drawing your feet behind the buttocks. Softly inhale into the twist with your chest and then exhale as you change the direction of the twist.
- Reclining Hero Pose or Supta Virasana: This asana is especially recommended for women suffering from uterine fibroids. It is an intermediate yoga posture, so if you are already performing the hero pose you need not do this asana. It is a posture that includes the sitting of buttocks on the floor between the feet. There are a number of youtube videos and there are various best online yoga classes where you may learn the ins and outs of this asana. Make sure you perform this asana under professional supervision.
- Parsva Virasana: Sit in-between your heels in the kneeling position. If you are a beginner, you may sit on a towel or a yoga block. Place the right hand behind your back and the left on over the knee. Now slowly make a twist to the right and hold for 20-30 seconds. Get back to normal position and repeat it to the other side.
- Uttanasana or standing forward bend: It is very useful in strengthening and lifting the uterus. As you stand straight bend your knees slightly and slowly bend forward while placing your hands over yoga blocks, a chair, or the floor. Next, slowly straighten your knees by lifting up the tailbone towards the ceiling and hold for 30-60 seconds depending on your toleration.
- Viparita Dandasana or inverted staff pose: This pose helps stretch the uterus and cut off the blood supply to the fibroids. Stack two yoga bolsters over each other against a wall and place a chair in front of the stacked bolsters at a distance of two feet. Sit down on the chair backwards and stretch your legs through the back of the chair. Lay down backwards while placing your feet on the bolster then on the upper end of the back of the chair and then to the other bolster. Practice the movement slowly with a hold of 10 seconds and then slowly increase the time to 60 seconds. It will prevent the growth of fibroids and improve the overall health of your womb.