When you go on a picnic, and you spread a piece of clothing down on the ground to sit or lie on and enjoy your picnic with, there can sometimes be pieces of stone or other debris underneath it. These stone pieces may or may not cause you trouble, depending on the size or the location of that stone under your cloth. Sometimes, a stone may remain there till you round up your picnic and may go undetected unless someone had a reason to look under the cloth. Likewise is the case with Uterine Fibroids.
Uterine Fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, leiomyomata, or simply myomas, are knots of smooth muscle in the uterine wall. Consequently, we can say it is a condition affecting the female reproductive system.
Fibroids are as common as freckles! Surprised? In fact, they are present in at least 25% of women. But that is even judging by those who actually get checked. The truth is that, up to 80% of all women have uterine fibroids. However, it has a higher prevalence among black women.
They account for more hysterectomies than all cancers put together, necessitating 200,000 – 500,000 hysterectomies yearly.
How to know Uterine Fibroids: the symptoms.
Uterine Fibroids mainly present the following symptoms:
1. Heavy Bleeding.
Bleeding, as a symptom of Uterine Fibroids could result from Menorrhagia(heavy menstrual periods). menorrhagia is the most common symptom of Uterine Fibroids. In this case, a woman could find herself on her period for up to or even more than 7 days! The bleeding gets so heavy that she has to change her sanitary items more frequently than every two hours. She may even find the need to use double at a time. It affects her so much that she has to adjust her social life according to her menstrual period. In extreme cases, flooding, I.e, complete loss of control of menstrual flow.
2. Pelvic Pressure.
This occurs similar to what happens in pregnancy. Due to the growth of the fibroid in or around the fibroid, the uterus increases in size correspondingly, and creates pressure in the pelvic region. This pressure is usually due to increased pressure on structures adjacent to the uterus itself. If a fibroid is large enough, it could make the pregnancy as large as in pregnancy. For example, a fibroid of about 5-10 years old can be as large as a five month old pregnancy.
3. Sudden or Severe Pain.
A person suffering from fibroids might experience sudden or severe pain occasionally. This pain arises due to a compromise in the blood supply to the fibroid tissue, causing an area of it to die off. This causes pain. In the case of a pedunculated fibroid(see below), the ‘neck’ of the fibroid can be twisted so that it cuts off the supply of blood to the fibroid, resulting in tissue necrosis and pain.
4. Reproductive Dysfunctions.
Complications might arise in reproduction like infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy complications. However, pregnancy is still very much viable, even with safe delivery without cesarian section. This depends on the type/location of the fibroid.
The Types of Uterine Fibroids.
The types of uterine fibroids are classified based on the position in which they have appeared in or around the uterus. They include:
- Subserosal Fibroids: They are found in the thin layer covering the outer wall of the uterus, called serosa. They appear on as small bumps or large growths on the uterine surface.
- Intramural Fibroids: These are found within the wall of the uterus itself. They may extend to the subserosal layer.
- Submucosal Fibroids: They are located entirely within the uterus, within the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus. They are the most serious type and pose the most threat to fertility.
- Pedunculated Fibroids: A mention was made of this type earlier. They extend from a short stalk or neck and are either borne within or outside the cavity of the uterus.
- Transmural Fibroids: They cut through the uterus, extending from the outer wall of the uterus to the inner cavity.
Ayurveda and Uterine Fibroids.
From ancient Ayurvedic texts, Ganthi(literally, tumour) has been found to have somewhat corresponding descriptions with fibroids. So, fibroids located in the uterus(Garbashaya) can be described in Ayurvedic terms as Garbashyagata Ganthi(intrauterine growth).
It occurs when a doshic imbalance vitiates Rakta(blood), mamsa(muscles) and meda(adipose tissues), all helped along by the Kapha dosha, leading to a build up of knotty, round, hard swellings in the garbashaya(uterus).
The ancient sages of Ayurveda were also able to successfully class ganthis into different types:
- Vataja ganthi: elongated and painful, corresponding to subserous fibroids.
- Pittja ganthi: characterized by suppuration and inflammation with distortion of the uterine cavity. This corresponds to submucosal fibroids.
- Kaphaja ganthi: localized mass with mild pain. Cervical and intramural fibroids are analogous.
- Medogranthi: mild pain.
- Sidra ganthi: characterized by a quick onse with multiple symptoms and complications.
Complications arising from ganthi include asrigdhara(menorrhagia) and rajodosha(menstrual disorder) among others.
Causes of Uterine Fibroids.
Research is still going on regarding this, and there’s no one cause that has been able to completely explain why fibroids develop, however, three main factors that have been identified include:
- Environmenal Factors: Including diet, lifestyle, habits like smoking or drinking.
- Genetic Factors: People who have relatives that have had issues with fibroid are more susceptible to develop fibroids themselves. Fibroids can be genetically transferred, though the exact gene responsible has not been identified.
- Hormones: for example, women who have started taking contraceptives from as early as 13 – 16 years are at a greater risk of developing fibroids. However, aside this, the use of contraceptives have been actually shown to reduce the risk of uterine fibroids. Hence, timing is of the essence.
Other likely risk factors are:
- Overproduction of extracellular matrix, which give room for development of all forms of malformations.
- Lack of adequate dermatopontin. This protein, dermatopontin, is responsible for preventing irregular growth of tissues. If it is absent or insufficient however, there is abnormal growth.
- Endometrosis: abnormal growth of tissues of the endometrial lining of the uterus.
- Altered menstrual pattern.
- Abnormal Blood Vessels disease: abnormal angiogenesis(process of formation of new blood vessels) encourage distribution of nutrients to places where it isn’t necessarily needed. And what happens? Tissue starts growing, since there is excess nutrient.
Treating Uterine Fibroids.
It is important to note that any treatment of uterine fibroids be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary. If the fibroids do not pose a significant threat to life, or significantly reduce the quality of life of the patient, then treatment should be put off as necessary. The situation should be put under regular monitoring however, in case it degenerates.
A range of treatment options available to tackle uterine fibroids include:
- Hysterstopic myomectomy.
- Endometrial ablaion.
- Vaginal myomectomy.
- Hormaonal therapy: Beware that hormonal therapies can lead to menopause complications like hot flashes, flushes,mood swings, irritability. Aside that, people with a history of blood clotting, cancer or are smoking even after 35 years of age should avoid hormonal therapy.
Holisitic, Completely Natural Remedies to Uterine Fibroids with Ayurveda.
Ayurveda, with all the accumulated techniques of over 5000 years, will certainly not fail to have tested and trusted methods to deal with granthi.
- Applying the principles of vighatana(breaking the prognosis).
- Ashokarishta: It contains a full army of herbs to tackle rajodosha(menstrual disorders) and more. Some of these herbs are amra, vasa, chandana, dhataki, musta, guda, kamala, etc.
- Pushyanuga churna: is well trusted in Ayurveda as an effective remedy for gynecological disorders. It contains pata, amra, kukuma, ativisha, and many more.
- Choice of kapha vatahra drugs.
Beyond this, there are dietary and lifestyle changes to manage Uterine Fibroids.
The various tips to wellness and nutrition with Ayurveda include, but are not limited to:
- Yoga, acupuncture, etc, to relive the pressure in the pelvic floor.
- Taking a diet with less meat, dairy or gluten.
- Diets rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E.
- Taking minerals like selenium, zinc, magnesium, iron and calcium in diet.
- Red raspberry help to manage bleeding while black cohosh alleviates pain and back cramps.
FAQ: How do Uterine Fibroids affect fertility, pregnancy and childbirth?
Fibroids might, or might not have an effect at all on fertility, pregnancy, or childbirth. This depends on the position of the fibroid. Submucosal fibroids pose the greatest danger, while pedunculated fibroids, particularly the ones borne outside the uterus, pose no threat. Again, these are only risk factors, not absolute facts. A woman with fibroid can be pregnant and deliver with no problems whatsoever. After all, 80% of women have uterine fibroids, most of them undiagnosed.
The following risks may be presented though:
- Preterm delivery.
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction(IUGR).
- Mispositioning of baby.
- Risk of placental abruption.
- Increased risk of need for caesarian section.
- Postpartum hemorrhage due to decreased ability of uterus to contract.
- Bleeding in first trimester.
Consult with your healthcare provider for a better assesment of risks as unique to you. Medhya Herbals is always open to you, of course.
Lastly, before you go, get Ayurvedic Herbs and Wisdom for Fertility here.