Today my subject is on #WomensHealth, as I share pointers which could be useful not only for women, but for anyone who knows a female, who might be experiencing stress and physical feminine trauma.
'The thought of Yoga makes my heart dance, as I've experienced the benefits of using it's techniques to manage stress and physical trauma caused by the common ailment of Uterine Fibroids.'
What are Uterine Fibroids? Aka - Myomas, Leiomyomas or Fibromas
Are tumours of the female reproductive system, that are most times non-cancerous. They are firm, compact tumours that are made up of muscle tissue that develop in or on the uterus.
According to womenshealth.gov
"About 20% to 80% of women develop fibroids by the time they reach age 50. Fibroids are most common in women in their 40s and early 50s. Not all women with fibroids have symptoms."
My experience started way back in my early 20s.
There are 4 known types of fibroids, and what differentiates them from each other is the location within the uterus that the fibroid develops.
- Intramural Fibroids: the most common type, forms in the muscular wall of the uterus. These fibroids tend to grow into large sizes which can cause the womb to stretch.
- Subserosal Fibroids: these fibroids grow outside of the uterus in an area known as the serosa. These can grow large enough to cause an unevenness in the womb.
- Pedunculated Fibroids: these are some subserosal fibroids (like those mentioned above, except that these tumors develop a stem. (imagine a grape vein) with little polyps (tumors).
- Submucosal Fibroids: these types of tumors develop in the middle layer, of the uterus and these are the least common types of fibroids.
Here's an image showing the growth of Fibroids in and on the Uterus
Fibroids vary in size and at the onset of being diagnosed with fibroids, it is very common that the symptoms experienced are caused by very small fibroids. Hence, many women are told to "watch and wait".
There are advantages and many disadvantages to that "watch and wait" period:
Because fibroids grow and multiply at any time, it's best to leave them intact when they are very small, instead of doing a surgery immediately, as you could end up needing a succession of surgeries.
Since fibroids grow rapidly and can grow to the capacity of the expanding womb, symptoms can become unbearable, and fibroids can then become harmful due to their potential of growing onto other organs (worst case, they could obstruct the bowels).
Some Causes and Contributing Factors:
- hormones changes
- a deficiency in Vitamin D
- certain foods (such as milk, chicken, freshwater fish & beef)
- heavy menstrual flow and irregular periods with bleeding in between
- menstruation that lasts longer than usual
- severe menstrual cramps
- increased urination
- enlargement of the abdomen
- pain during intercourse
- pressure or fullness in your lower abdomen
- pain in the pelvis or lower back
Short Term Relief
- medication to regulate hormones (especially if there's excessive estrogen) to shrink the fibroids
- Birth Control Pills to reduce bleeding and regulate period times
- IUD a form of contraceptive which produces the hormone progestin
Long Term Relief:
- Myomectomy surgery to remove large and multiple fibroids. Upside: The ovaries are left intact to enable reproduction.
Downside: Fibroids might grow back after surgery, and sometimes, not all fibroids are removed during this procedure.
This procedure most times require women to have a future Hysterectomy.
Non-invasive and Minimal Invasive Procedures
- Forced Ultrasound Surgery, which uses sound waves therapy.
- Uterine Artery Embolisation, a procedure where small particles are injected into the uterus in order to cut off the fibroids’ blood supply.
How Common Is This Condition?
Literature will tell you that women of African American heritage are most prone to getting fibroids. I'm always shocked to listen to the horror stories of women of other racial groups, speak of their complaints of symptoms related to Uterine Fibroids.
There's no discrimination in terms of race, colour or lifestyle.
Unfortunately some women (as was my case), can be simultaneously affected by all 4 kinds of fibroids.
Sizes of Fibroids
As mentioned earlier, fibroids vary in sizes, and different factors influence the speed at which fibroids grow. Some things such as the foods we eat (containing hormones), or even from the side effects of medications prescribed (contraceptives), to treat symptoms such as excessive bleeding, can alter the growth of the fibroids.
Here is a chart showing a scale of different fibroids (Above) and (Below) a picture of Polyps"
My Personal Experience
My largest single fibroid was the size of a large grapefruit, others were the size of tennis balls. However, combined with all the other fibroids that I had growing in me, my womb had expanded to the size of a 33-week pregnancy.
With that there was debilitating pain which affected the quality of my life. Severe pain dominated my senses which would interfere with sleep, mobility and constant discomfort.
How Do You Win or Even Cope?
|Pressure in bladder||Constant feeling of needing to pee and throbbing pain like a baby kicking||Disruptive Sleep|
|Heavy Bleeding||Weakness and anaemia||Affected Sleep|
|Frequent Urination||Dehydration||Over-exertion of body from numerous trips to the toilet & disruptive sleep|
|Enlarged Womb||Weak Core & Back pain||inability to exercise due to obstruction of fibroids|
Living With Fibroids (During the "Watch & Wait" Period)
Women with large fibroids need to take similar precautions to that of a pregnant woman. It is also important that women with fibroids do research with reliable information, to educate themselves about the condition as much as possible.
Luckily, with the suggestions from my Chiropractor, I was able to do simple low impact but effective yoga exercises to strengthen my core (without aggravating my fibroids).
Success Story: I'm no longer affected by fibroids.
I am thankful for the time and effort I invested in finding as much knowledge about fibroids, causes, expected symptoms, and possible remedies.
I chose and pushed to have the least invasive of treatments which did not require surgery, did not interfere with my reproductive system, and which promised the most effective method of removing all 4 different types of fibroids: a Uterine Artery Embolisation
Effective, Doable, and Suggested Exercises For Women With Fibroids
- Maintaining a strong core is essential for everyone, but it's extremely vital for women carrying babies or in this case, large heavy uterine fibroids.
Below are a series of simple yoga and pilates moves, that are effective for strengthening the core and lower back. These exercises could help anyone who might be experiencing similar symptoms.
- helps to alleviate discomfort as it helps to open and stretch the abdominal area, which is great for the lower spine.
(with shoes, during Pilates)
- Stretches and strengthens the abs, back and neck.
(barefooted, during Yoga)
- start this pose in a table position; exhale, rounding back upward to the sky; inhale, arch back, dropping abdomen down toward the earth; lift head, chin & hips. This is a very effective toning exercise
Standing Forward Bend
- this lifts and strengthens the uterus.
- stand and inhale and as you exhale, fall forward and slightly bend knees if needed.
These are just a few yoga techniques I used to alleviate the stress and trauma caused on my body, from carrying massive fibroids, particularly around my core and lower back sections.
Tips For Women Experiencing & Suffering from Fibroids:
- Be nice to the doctors: it's hard to keep your emotions in check when suffering from severe pain. The reality is that fibroids are not life threatening (until they become massive), and it's a common ailment, so there are normally long waiting lists' for procedures to be done. If you're polite to the doctors, it might help get you higher on the priority list.
- Keep a health log by jotting down the symptoms, frequency, results from treatments applied, things that lessen and increase discomfort (even things as the precise pee times and the amount of pee), to present to your doctor at appointments.
- Research healthy diets to help cope with fibroids. During my experience many years ago, I found some interesting combinations of food. There was a delicious Mango Black Bean Salad that I'd try again. There are also teas like Dandelion for Fibroids and many natural herbs that help to starve the fibroids. This should be your main aim - keep the fibroids hungry. My fibroids loved beef, they used to get really excited when I ate beef, it's as if the fibroids were dancing and giving praises. I'd feel much discomfort.
- Do as much personal research from reliable sources, to ensure that whatever recommendations the doctor offers, suits your personal needs.
- Sounds funny, but most doctors I experienced throughout the years suffering with fibroids were men. No disregard or bashing of men; however, save your emotional drama, and relay your problems in a more mechanical way as if discussing a chassis or a car engine. A log might help to keep you focused.
Experiencing fibroids and countless medical appointments can cause emotional and physical stress, so try to remain calm, armed with useful information.
I thank you all for reading this.
It's Women's Health, but I'm sure this could be useful for men too, as chances are you might have a girlfriend, wife, daughter, niece, mother or relative who suffers from this common ailment.
Thank you @riverflows for great topics on benefits of yoga and special thanks to @naturalmedicine and @lotusshares, for the initiating of this topic, and facilitating the opportunity for me to share my experience which I hope could help others.
So long, till my next blog!