Uterine fibroids or myomas are benign tumours that grow within the muscle tissue of the uterus. They are quite common, with approximately 50% of women of childbearing age having at least one fibroid. They can range in size from very small to being as large as a melon. They are differentiated according to their location: Sub-serous, Intramural and Sub-mucous.
While many women may not even be aware they have fibroids, as they do not experience any symptoms or problems, symptoms can be quite severe in some cases and treatment is required. The main symptoms experienced are: very heavy and prolonged menstrual periods with clots, pelvic pain, lower back pain, pain down the thighs, pain during intercourse, bleeding between periods, pressure on the bladder (leading to frequent urination or incontinence) and pressure on the bowel (leading to constipation, bloating and fullness).
Fibroids can affect fertility depending on their size and location in the uterus. If they are distorting or obstructing the uterine cavity or fallopian tubes they are a physical impediment to fertilization, implantation and/or development of an embryo. During pregnancy fibroids may grow due to increased oestrogen and blood flow, causing premature delivery. If the fibroid does not affect the lining of the uterus it may be harmless and have little effect on fertility.
The cause of fibroids is unknown, however the growth appears to be dependent on oestrogen. Western medical treatment usually involves surgical removal of the fibroids, however other options include hysterectomy, hormone therapy and uterine artery embolization.
In Chinese Medicine fibroids are a type of “abdominal mass” due to Blood stasis, sometimes in combination with Phlegm. There are a number of underlying internal pathologies, the main ones being Spleen and Kidney Yang deficiency, Liver Qi Stagnation and Cold in the uterus. Our focus is on invigorating the blood and breaking up stasis to soften and resolve the masses, in combination with addressing the underlying diagnosis.
Acupuncture is used to move the stagnation of Qi and Blood which may help manage the symptoms of menstrual cycle pain and irregularity. Weekly treatment for 2-3 months is recommended.
Chinese herbs can be used based on the individual diagnosis to:
Invigorate Blood, break up stasis and soften masses
Move Qi stagnation
Expel Cold and Warm the uterus
Tonify Spleen and Kidney Yang
Tonify Qi and Blood
It is important to note that often large fibroids require surgical removal and in this case our treatment is then focused on balancing the body to minimise their reoccurrence.
In fertility cases it is often advised not to attempt pregnancy for several menstrual cycles while you are taking the strong Blood moving Chinese herbs. If there is a possibility of pregnancy you must advise your practitioner immediately so that the herbal formula can be modified.