Uterine leiomyomas, better known as fibroids are the most common abnormal growth in the female reproductive system. They are so common that they are present in 1 in every 4 women over the age of 35.

These benign tumors grow on the inner and outer walls of the uterus and can have an extreme range in size and severity. At its worst, a fibroid can be nearly cantaloupe sized and it is not uncommon for women to have multiple fibroids at once. Depending on the size, fibroids can have a variety of clinical manifestations ranging from constipation and displacement of urogenital structures to menorrhagia (heavy bleeding during the menses), bloating and severe abdominal pain before and during menstruation.

If the fibroids are in a position where they can block the uterine cavity or the entrance to the uterus from the fallopian tubes it is possible that there can be trouble conceiving. During pregnancy (or exogenous estrogen sources such as oral contraceptives) fibroids may increase in size due to increased hormone production, this can cause difficulty for the embryo to implant properly, as well as premature labor.

Current medical interventions for fibroids is myomectomy or the surgical removal of the tumor if the complications are severe enough. Some women may be put on synthetic hormonal medications to induce a pseudo-menopause to decrease the estrogen in the body and ideally shrinking the fibroid. This of course comes with adverse effects such as severe bloating, hot flashes, slowed digestive function and night sweats. In women who are not concerned about conceiving, a hysterectomy or arterial embolisation may be performed (this cuts off the blood supply to the tumor, however it also blocks blood flow to the uterine lining).

Surgery is extreme, especially when it is advised for something that can be treated more naturally and with minimal side effects with regular acupuncture treatments. An East to West Wellness Center patient came to us with the chief complaint of fibroids, because it was quite large her doctors advised surgery, looking for a different approach this patient sought out acupuncture. She experienced severe pain and other PMS symptoms, mid cycle bleeding and an irregular cycle. After just five sessions with us this patients fibroid shrunk so considerably that she was no longer advised to get surgery. The dissolution was confirmed by sonogram imaging showing the decrease in diameter. We also saw a decrease in PMS symptoms, no more spotting between menstruation, and a regular cycle.

Acupuncture sees great success in treating fibroids for a few reasons. When needles are placed in the lower abdomen and in some cases electrical stimulation is applied circulation will improve and move stagnant blood that is trapped by the fibroids. Acupuncture also has the ability to release tumor necrosis factor, H1 and H2 histamine receptor activation as well as prostaglandin – all these hormones aid in shrinking fibroids. Acupuncture can stimulate the body to activate its own regulatory function to correct bodily dysfunction.

Anna Craddock, Student of Acupuncture

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