fibroid and hormones

Hormones and Fibroids

The uterus is one of the first organs that manifests the effects of hormonal imbalance in your body in the form of uterine fibroids or enlarged uterus. Uterine fibroids are the non-cancerous lumps of mass in your uterus that reside within it, and sometimes also on its outer surface.

Although no direct link has been conclusively established between female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and fibroids, there is a strong thought that these hormones and genetics play a large part in the development of fibroids in the uterus. These benign uterine tumors do not develop until your body begins the production of estrogen hormone during the onset of menstruation. Hormonal imbalance during the reproductive years can trigger the development of fibroids and their growth as well.

The common hormonal imbalance in your reproductive years is characterized by higher amount of estrogen in comparison to progesterone, a condition commonly known as estrogen dominance.[1] This condition can result in enlarged uterus that can cause pressure on the bladder and result in discomfort for the patient. Estrogen dominance can also result in the development and growth of fibroids in your uterus.[2]

Negative Effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy and Birth Control Pills

Fibroids often shrink after menopause when your body stops producing as much estradiol, the hormone responsible for female characteristics and sexual functioning. This sex hormone is responsible for many womanly issues including the growth of uterine fibroids and female cancers.[3] Progesterone production decreases in women in their 30s and 40s and a woman is unlikely to develop fibroids after menopause. However, if you are taking birth control pills for years or are on hormone replacement therapy for long, you may not experience fibroids shrinking after the menopause due to excess amount of stored estrogen in your body.[4]

What Research Tells About the Role of Estrogen and Progesterone?

A study by the Endocrine Society found that the women with higher levels of estrogen and testosterone were at increased risk of developing uterine fibroids. The point to be noted is that though testosterone is considered a male hormone but women also produce a small amount of it. Another study by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed that women with high levels of these hormones were less likely to develop fibroids again while those with low levels of these hormones were more likely to develop them again.[5]

Effect of Changing Hormonal Levels During Menstruation

Hormonal levels keep changing throughout the menstrual cycle of a woman. On the day one of your menstrual cycle, both estrogen and progesterone levels are low, while at the time of ovulation which is around 12 to 14 days, estrogen level is increased, causing the release of egg. If the egg is not fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease again and the menses begin on day 28. During the perimenopause period, hormonal level fluctuates when ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen and less estrogen is produced. Perimenopause is the menopause transition period that begins several years before menopause and usually starts in a woman in her 40s. During menopause, there is low progesterone level and comparatively high estrogen level.[6] These hormonal changes may have effect on the health of the uterus of a woman.

Hormone Therapy

Women with long term hormonal imbalance are at the higher risk of many complications including those related to fibroids and reproduction. Maintaining hormone harmony can help one in improving the associated symptoms.

Fibroids Have Receptors for Estrogen and Progesterone for Growth

As per a review published in the Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology, there are receptors for estrogen in your uterus that bind estrogen molecules to the tissue. The resulting cellular process may make the fibroids growth possible. These estrogen receptors have been found in the fibroids also, that’s the reason why fibroids have higher amounts of estrogen hormone than the nearby tissue. This explains the growth of fibroids with increased estrogen level during pregnancy. Uterine fibroids are also seen to have receptors for progesterone. That way, higher levels of both progesterone and estrogen contribute to the growth of uterine fibroids.[7]

Risk Group for Incident Fibroids

Women using sex hormones and progestin, smokers and those with high BMI have the high risks of developing recurring fibroids. Women with higher levels of bio-available circulating endogenous testosterone (T) and Estradiol (E2) were also found to be among the risk group of incident fibroids compared to those with low levels of these hormones.[8]

Home Remedies to Restore Hormonal Balance

Improving estrogen elimination through regular aerobic exercises, decreasing estrogen intake and consuming bioidentical progesterone to smooth out the estrogen dominance in the body can help in improving your overall hormonal balance. Nearly all women can benefit by taking plant-based hormones found in soy and flaxseed that are considered safer alternatives to synthetic hormones. Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fats that help in reducing the inflammation and tumor growth. Herbs like black cohosh, dong quai and chasteberry can help in balancing estrogen level in your body.[9]

Examining Your Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids are often detected with a pelvic exam of uterus, ovaries and vagina, and can be felt by your doctor to be of the size of a peanut, golf ball, orange or even something larger. Many a time, an imaging test such as ultrasound or MRI will be done to confirm the diagnosis.

One may live with fibroids for years if they are not causing symptoms or do not have adverse health effects on you. However, at times, you may want to seek uterine fibroids treatment if the growth makes you look as if you were pregnant, or you may want to have fibroids pain treatment if the symptoms are severe, like heavy bleeding, cramping, frequent urination, problem in emptying bladder or backache.

Fibroids Pain Treatment

Progesterone therapy may relieve you of your pain and stop the fibroid growth temporarily, however, many women have complained of side effects of this therapy including insomnia, fatigue and weight gain. So, the therapy could at best be considered as a temporary solution before the proper uterine fibroid’s treatment by the specialist doctors. Conventional medicine for fibroid pain treatment uses non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen but these can only provide temporary relief as this uterine fibroid treatment ignores the underlying cause of hormonal imbalance that caused the problem in the first place.

Surgeries for Fibroids

In extreme cases, fibroids may need surgical removal by hysterectomy but it should be the last resort as the surgery will remove your uterus, cause the cessation of menstruation and make you incapable to get pregnant due to the lack of uterus. Myomectomy surgically removes fibroids and keeps your uterus, but it needs repairing. Another technique known as endometrial ablation destroys fibroids with the help of laser’s heat energy but in the process, it also causes destruction to the uterine lining.

Treating Uterine Fibroids with Non-Surgical Procedure

If you have many smaller fibroids, it may become difficult to remove all of them surgically. On the other hand, their smaller size makes it easier for the specialist doctors to treat them without surgery. In many cases, doctors remove the uterus citing the reason that it is too difficult to remove all the fibroids without irreversibly damaging the uterus. However, even if you are suggested surgical removal of fibroids, you can always consider the approaches that do not remove your uterus, or better still, look for the procedures that could keep your uterus intact and no surgery is performed on you for the purpose of your uterine fibroids treatment.

Outpatient UFE Procedure

Newer inventions in women’s health have made it possible for the women to benefit from a minimally invasive, non-surgical interventional procedure known as uterine fibroid embolization or UFE. By exploring new approaches like UFE, even fibroids can be influenced and you can get rid of their symptoms. This outpatient procedure will leave your uterus and ovaries intact, so you can keep your hope of conceiving in future.

Treating All of Your Fibroids with Single, Non-Surgical Procedure

The outpatient UFE procedure is conducted at the USA Fibroid Centers by an interventional radiologist wherein a catheter is usually entered into your artery through your groin that feeds your fibroids. The movement of the catheter is observed on a screen through imaging technique. The catheter contains embolic agents that are released into the artery that block blood supply to the fibroids. In the absence of blood supply and hence oxygen and nutrients, the fibroids starve and shrink. The procedure can treat all of your fibroids in one go. The withered away fibroids are absorbed by the body over a period of time.

UFE – The Minimally Invasive Procedure with a Quick Recovery

Uterine fibroids embolization is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that causes you minimum discomfort and you are most likely to be discharged the same day as your procedure. You will need someone to drive you home, and may experience some symptoms like nausea and vomiting for a couple of days, that go off of their own soon. Most women are able to return to work after a week of the UFE procedure.

Getting Evaluation for Uterine Fibroids Treatment

If you are looking for non-surgical option for your fibroids pain treatment, we have interventional radiologists who have performed UFE on thousands of women with a high success rate. Contact us at 855.615.2555 and book your online appointment with our specialist today. Our fibroid experts will evaluate your situation to decide if you are the right candidate to receive UFE treatment. Our treatments are covered by most insurance plans including Medicare, give us a call to verify your coverage.