Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the smooth muscle within the uterine wall. They are the most common benign pelvic tumor in women. Up to 75% of women will have uterine fibroids at some point during their lives, with the majority causing no symptoms and occurring during the reproductive years. Fortunately, natural integrative interventions such as green tea may help ease symptoms associated with fibroids.
Risk Factors for Uterine Fibroids
- Higher estrogen and progesterone levels
- Higher body weight and body mass index (BMI)
- Ethnicity (African-American women have a 3-fold greater risk as compared to Caucasian women)
- Women with a first-degree relative with uterine fibroids have a 2.5-fold increased chance of developing fibroids themselves
Symptoms Associated with Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids often do not cause noticeable signs or symptoms, but may present with the following:
- Heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Pelvic pain or fullness
- Increased urinary frequency or incontinence
Conventional Medical Treatments
For fibroids that require intervention, treatment can be approached medically or surgically.
- Drugs (gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, anti-progestogen therapy, tranexamic acid, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs])
- Minimally-invasive procedures (uterine artery embolization, endometrial ablation, and magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery)
- Surgical procedures (hysterectomy and myomectomy)
Note: A surgical procedure known as uterine power morcellation involves shredding uterine tissue into smaller pieces so that it may be removed through laparoscopic surgery. Life Extension reported on the dangers of this procedure in its July 2014 issue and on the FDA’s lack of oversight and insufficient protection of women from this procedure.
Natural Therapies for Uterine Fibroids
Lifestyle and Dietary Changes:
- Consume greater quantities of vegetables, fruits, and dairy products with an emphasis on lower glycemic index foods
- Exercise at least seven hours per week
- Green Tea and EGCG: Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol found in green tea, was found to significantly reduce fibroid volume and symptoms.
- Vitamin D: Women with lower serum levels of vitamin D are more likely to develop uterine fibroids.
- Curcumin: Curcumin has been shown to inhibit fibroid cell growth.
- Cimicifuga racemosa (Black Cohosh) Extract: Black cohosh has been found to help decrease fibroid size in women with menopausal symptoms and fibroids.