by Kidada N Fields, M.Ac., L.Ac.
Statistics report that 30-50% of all American women will develop uterine fibroids (myomas) in their life. Of these women, African American & Caribbean woman are the most susceptible. In addition, fibroids prove to be the number one reason for hysterectomies in the United States. With statistics like this, uterine fibroids are a woman’s health condition that I feel needs attention.
Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that grow on the uterine wall. They can grow within the uterine wall, inside the uterus cavity, on the outer wall of the uterus, and along the cervix. Fibroids can cause women no symptoms at all or any array of symptoms including leg & pelvis pain, pelvic pressure, compromised daily activity, heavy menstrual cycles which can lead to anemia or fatigue, bleeding between menses, menstrual cramps, urinary frequency, bulging lower abdomen, and interference with conception. Rarely, very large fibroids can cause a disruption in the flow of blood from the legs back to the heart or even blood clots in the legs. Talking to women who have fibroids, I have learned that the main symptoms of fibroid presence are very heavy menstrual bleeding and associated pain.
Some women can feel their fibroid(s) by pushing in on the lower abdomen while others are unaware of their existence and only become aware of their presence during pelvic exams performed by trained physicians.
If you find that you do have these growths, but no symptoms, doctors say not to worry and there is no action needed, except to monitor their growth and have them routinely checked every 3-6 months. I actually disagree with this and would caution the woman to begin paying attention to her diet, exercise, and energy flow (or lack of it) particularly in the pelvic area. I have spoken to numerous women who were told they had “worry free” fibroids in their mid- twenties. By the time they were in their mid-thirties, the fibroids became an issue.
Women close to or experiencing menopause need to take no action because the hormone that feeds fibroids, estrogen, drops dramatically in menopausal and post-menopausal women.
Although the medical community reports no known causes of fibroids, some doctors recognize that emotions and diet play a substantial role in fibroid growth. Dr. Christine Northrup, an internationally known physician and author of Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom observes that fibroids are a representation of repressed anger, creativity and overall unfulfillment.
The presence of fibroids can also bring up emotions like fear, uncertainly, blame, guilt and depression; some of the same emotions that may have encouraged fibroid growth. Chinese medicine teaches that these same emotions are the cause for dis-ease in the body.
If you find any of these emotions coming up, notice them. It is important to address, not suppress, them. Write about them; explore where they are coming from. It can be painful but worth it. Most of all be gentle with yourself.
In my upcoming articles I will take a deeper look at how to move disruptive emotions; discuss different treatment options including traditional methods, diet, acupuncture, and Chinese herbs; and share women’s personal experiences. Stay tuned.