If you suffer from the unpleasant effects of uterine fibroids, you may want to know what you can do to keep your symptoms from getting worse. Perhaps you are worried that your fibroids will grow larger, or that additional growths will develop. You may be concerned that your fibroid pain and other symptoms will continue to increase and eventually become debilitating.
While fibroid treatment is the only way to get rid of these benign tumors, certain lifestyle factors may help reduce some of your risks. By taking control of your health, you may be able to influence future fibroid growth and manage undesirable fibroid symptoms.
To improve your overall health:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get enough sleep
- Avoid smoking
- Limit alcohol
- Exercise regularly
Exercising With Fibroids
Exercise offers a variety of health benefits to everybody. Past research suggests that exercise can improve heart and lung function, reduce the odds of developing deadly diseases, and positively impact emotional health. Our fibroid specialists agree that exercise can help those who have fibroids.
When it comes to fibroids, exercise can help you:
- Maintain a healthy BMI: Being overweight or obese is a potential risk factor for fibroid growth, so maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 25 is generally recommended. Losing any excess weight can also help reduce back or pelvic pain, both of which are common fibroid symptoms.
- Manage hormone levels: Although we don’t entirely understand the causes of uterine fibroids, we do know hormone levels influence their growth. Fibroids tend to grow during times of increased estrogen and progesterone, like during pregnancy. Conversely, fibroids often shrink after menopause when hormone levels decrease. Exercise helps regulate hormone levels and may affect fibroid growth.
- Boost endorphins: Endorphins released during exercise are the natural painkillers produced by our bodies. They can help reduce fibroid-related pain, like severe menstrual cramps, pelvic pain, and back and leg pain.
- Gain more energy: The type of heavy menstrual bleeding associated with fibroids can sometimes result in low energy levels. In extreme cases, some individuals develop anemia, which causes fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. Although it may seem counterintuitive, using energy to exercise can give you the extra boost you need to make it through the day.
- Improve your mood: Did you know that exercise is a natural mood enhancer? It’s probably no surprise that when spirits are high, managing pain and other fibroid symptoms seems easier.
- Potentially reduce fibroid growth: While exercise probably won’t shrink or eliminate your fibroids, it can potentially reduce future fibroid growth and related symptoms.
Most women with uterine fibroids can exercise and experience all the health benefits that regular physical activity offers. You may need to be careful about which types of activities you pursue, especially if bending or heavy lifting is involved.
Best Exercise for Uterine Fibroids
Before beginning your exercise program, we recommend you discuss the following types of activities with your doctor:
Cardio Exercise: You may want to base the bulk of your exercise plan on cardiovascular activities like walking, running, biking, or swimming. These activities are particularly good for helping individuals manage their weight, improve sleep, and raise energy levels.
Strength Training: While lifting weights can help strengthen bones, you might want to avoid heavy lifting if you have fibroids. This activity can increase blood flow to your abdominal area which, in turn, can feed your fibroids and cause them to grow. For better results, use lighter weights or try low-impact activities that involve only body weight.
Stretching: Women with an enlarged abdomen due to fibroids may struggle to perform activities that involve bending or stretching, like those required in yoga. Yoga exercises cannot reduce your fibroids, and some moves may be difficult to perform. Abdominal work like sit-ups can also be difficult. If this is your situation, please listen to your body and your doctor. In general, avoid getting into positions that hurt or don’t feel quite right. If this limitation frustrates you, fibroid treatment can reduce abdominal swelling and allow you to return to your previous level of flexibility.
Engaging in intense or vigorous exercise, such as high intensity interval training (HIIT), can aggravate your fibroids. Before embarking on a new fitness plan, be sure to consult with your doctor about the impact a fitness routine will have on your fibroids and always listen to what your body tells you.
Fibroids and Exercise
If you’re looking for exercises to shrink your fibroids, we want to be clear that exercise isn’t the way to achieve this goal. While exercising can be an important part of your fibroid care plan, keep in mind that it is neither a treatment nor a cure. Exercise and diet cannot shrink your fibroids alone; only specialized fibroid treatment can shrink or eliminate your fibroids.
Despite following a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly, there may come a time when your fibroids begin to grow and symptoms worsen. When uterine fibroids affect your career, social life, personal relationships, or self-esteem, we usually recommend treatment.
When Exercise Isn’t Enough to Manage Your Fibroids
Some women avoid fibroid treatment because they believe hysterectomy––the surgical removal of the uterus––is their only available option. At USA Fibroid Centers, we know this isn’t true. Our specialists offer a minimally invasive, non-surgical option called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UFE is a safe, effective treatment that can shrink your fibroids, eliminate your symptoms, and quickly get you back to your normal life.
Additional benefits of UFE include:
- It is performed as an outpatient procedure
- General anesthesia is not required
- Involves less risk than fibroid surgery
- Has a short recovery period of only one to two weeks
- Leaves the uterus intact
- Retains your fertility
To ask our fibroid specialists more about exercise for fibroids or to learn whether you are a good candidate for UFE, simply schedule an initial consultation. For your safety and convenience, we now offer a choice between attending a traditional in-office visit or telemedicine appointment. We look forward to being your partner on the treatment journey to freedom from fibroid suffering.