Understanding How Uterine Fibroid Tumors Can Affect Fertility
Uterine Fibroid tumors, or myomas, are benign (not cancerous) tumors that grow in or around the uterus and affect nearly 20 percent of women over 35 years of age. Diagnosis is generally made by your physician during your annual gynecological exam when your physician feels a mass. When a mass is detected, an ultrasound, MRI, cat scan, or a sonohysterogram, is often ordered as the next step in diagnosing the condition. Although most fibroids cause no symptoms, the estimated 25 percent of women who do have symptoms may have abnormal/heavy bleeding, pain during menstruation and/or sex, fertility problems, frequent urination, complications during pregnancy and delivery (typically requiring cesarean delivery), and as the fibroid tumors grow larger, a swollen abdomen. From a fertility perspective, fibroids can inhibit implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. No one knows for sure what causes uterine fibroids, but we do know they are affected by the body’s levels of estrogen and progesterone. They grow rapidly during pregnancy, when hormone levels are high. They shrink when anti-hormone medication is used. They also stop growing or shrink once a woman reaches menopause.
How Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Treat Uterine Fibroid Tumors
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes fibroids are caused by obstructions in blood flow, and therefore are alleviated through processes which remove those obstructions. Acupuncture near the site of the fibroid has been seen to reduce proliferation of abnormal cells. Chinese herbs are used to help restore optimal blood flow to the pelvic organs. Reproductive organ massage helps to manually breakdown the tissue and aid the body in recovery. Not only will Chinese medical treatments shrink and eliminate the fibroids, but when used together can re-balance hormonal production, improve ovarian production and ovulation, regulate menstrual cycles, lower FSH levels, create better egg quality, and strengthen embryos– all of which improve fertility and your chance of conception.
Acupuncture treatment focuses on realigning the delicate hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis which controls the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body. When estrogen levels are increased, fibroids tend to grow in size, causing pain and inhibiting implantation. By curbing excess estrodial, abnormal cell proliferation can be slowed, and when in combination with herbal and reproductive organ massage, often halted entirely.
Chinese herbs concentrate on invigorating the blood, which helps to break up the stasis of the fibroid itself and flood the uterus with oxygen and nutrient rich material. By moving the blood swiftly to the area, herbs that have documented antineoplastic effect can begin addressing the improper cellular proliferation. Formulas also contain individual herbs that have a direct effect on smooth muscle, helping to generate uterine contractions to eliminate the dissolved stasis.
Reproductive organ massage is a highly specialized form of therapeutic massage that manipulates the fascia of the pelvic cavity to unblock any obstructions or reduce any adhesions in the reproductive organs and improve the blood flow to these organs. The massage gently breaks up the accumulated stagnations by literally untying the muscular tension that can contribute to the holding patterns associated with fibroids. After the muscular tension is addressed, venous and arterial blood flow through the uterus will increase, generating optimal reproductive organ function and encouraging a balanced hormonal system. By working deeper, the lymph circulation can be stimulated to help filter out any residual toxins associated with the dissolution of the fibroid mass.
How Western Medicine Treats Uterine Fibroid Tumors
If you have fibroids but do not have any symptoms, you may not need treatment. Your doctor will check during your regular exams to see if they have grown. If you experience symptoms of fibroids, however, Western medical treatment varies from hormonal suppression to surgery. Various medications may be prescribed to offer pain relief, control heavy bleeding, and/or halt or shrink the growth of the fibroids. If you experience moderate to severe symptoms, surgery may be required, including: embolization of uterine arteries to block the blood supply to the fibroids and shrink them, myomectomy – surgery to remove fibroids without taking out the healthy tissue of the uterus, hysterectomy– a complete removal of the uterus, or endometrial ablation – the lining of the uterus is removed or destroyed to control very heavy bleeding (the last two procedures prohibit a woman from any future pregnancy). MRI guided ultrasound surgery, laser treatments, and anti-hormonal drugs are other, less standard methods for treating uterine fibroids.