Friday, December 14, 2007

Fibroids - Say "No" to the Knife!

This is an article I posted in my Zaadz blog last year. We have to be careful not to jump ship too fast in favor of hysterectomy for fibroids. Read on....
Over the past week, I've had 3 women suffering severely from fibroids in my yoga classes and practice, so I want to share some thoughts. Some background: Half of women have fibroids or benign tumors of the uterus which are made of muscle fibers. They range in size from little pellets to enormous fruit sizes (plums to grapefruits). Some women have one big one, other women have multiple fibroids of various sizes. We don't understand what causes them, but know there is a genetic link. We also know, fortunately, that 99.9% are benign or not cancer. They can be painful, very annoying, and can cause hemorrhaging, especially if they are located beneath on the surface or near the surface of the uterine lining. These are called submucosal fibroids as they are beneath the mucosal layer of the lining. The best news is that they shrink 30-50% in menopause. Personally, I have 2 fibroid friends in my uterus, both about 3cm in size. They increase my bleeding with my cycle and my discomfort. Many women get so fearful about the bleeding and pain that they rush along with their gynecologists to hysterectomy. For some women, a tiny minority, this is life-saving. For most, it is unnecessary. There are many other alternatives. A major cause of increased pain and bleeding is inflammation. There are two main causes of inflammation: first, hormone imbalance (usually estrogen dominance, or not enough progesterone in from age 35-50 years); and second, food intolerances/allergies. Common allergens are wheat, soy, dairy and citrus. An anti-inflammatory diet can often reduce blood flow and pain by 40% and help with hormone balance. Often over-the-counter progesterone cream, or prescription bioidentical progesterone cream, can help with hormone imbalance -- although I recommend following both protocols under the direction of a knowledgeable physician. Two great sources of information include Andy Weil's book Healthy Aging, and Suzanne Somers' new book, Ageless. One other important cause of fibroid symptoms is exposure to xenohormones, or environmental sources of endocrine disruptors that often cause estrogen dominance. Many women don't realize that their non-organic food, shampoo, cosmetics and air pollutants are exposing them to the 700+ agents that act like estrogen. To read more about this, I recommend Dr. John Lee's books, especially What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Premenopause or What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Breast Cancer. Sometimes a small change in diet, and/or adding progesterone cream or other bioidentical hormones, can help significantly with fibroid symptoms. If that doesn't work and the bleeding or pain are serious, other alternatives from minor out-patient surgery to remove the fibroids through the uterus (works best for heavy bleeding) or through the abdomen (ask about laparoscopic-assisted as this reduces your pain and speeds recovery). Another alternative, which cures 70-80% is uterine artery embolization. Seek a world-class center with lots of experience. The purpose is to plug the blood vessels that feed your fibroids by going through a large blood vessel in your groin. Not sure how you feel about Condy Rice, but she had this procedure done recently. Like most integrative medicine, you must find the path that works for you. This is best done by consulting your community and finding a great physician with whom you can freely share your hopes and fears, and particularly your preferences. Birth control pills, possibly lupron (or medical castration) followed by hysterectomy is what I was conventionally trained to offer, yet I found it to be unsatisfying. Find the right path for you. This information is general in nature and is not intended as medical advice. Anyone wishing to actively use this information for personal health improvement is advised and urged to consult with the qualified health care provider of their choice before attempting to use the information. Consult with your DOCTOR. Comments on this site do not apply to any person in particular.

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I'm an organic gynecologist, yoga teacher + writer. I earn a living partnering with women to get them vital and self-realized again. We're born that way, but often fall off the path. Let's take your lousy mood and fatigue, and transform it into something sacred and useful.