Do you plan your vacation around your period because the pain and bleeding are too much to manage? Are you worried about having sex with a new partner because of bleeding? Do you feel guilty about going home early or taking an entire day off of work because of cramping? Do you suffer all these symptoms and more due to a uterine fibroid? You are not alone. Women who don’t develop at least one uterine fibroid during their reproductive lifespan are in the minority. In the United States alone, 26 million women between the ages of 15 and 50 have uterine fibroids. More than 15 million of these women also have associated symptoms or health concerns.
If you have uterine fibroids, you know that menstrual cramps can be excruciating, and bleeding can be so heavy that you can bleed through a tampon or pad in record time. You will also know that although there is plenty of information about fibroids’ symptoms, there is very little out there about treatment. And even though fibroids are so common, many women leave their doctor’s office feeling like their issue has been addressed.
One promising natural way to relieve fibroid symptoms, and even shrink fibroids, is the use of DIM supplements. But before we go into that, we need to take a good at uterine fibroids.
What is a Uterine Fibroid?
A fibroid is a noncancerous growth in the uterus that develops during a woman’s childbearing years. Technically they are considered to be a noncancerous tumor. The word tumor is always frightening to hear, so let’s reiterate that fibroids are not cancerous. There are three types of fibroids:
- Subserosal fibroids are the most common type of fibroid found inside the uterus. They attach themselves to its surface lining.
- Submucosal fibroids are found in the uterus’ lining, but not in the uterus’ muscular wall.
- Intramural fibroids are less common and found inside the muscle wall of the uterus. These are the most painful types of fibroids.
What Causes Uterine Fibroids?
Here are a few causes of uterine fibroids:
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Progesterone deficiency
- High estrogen (Estrogen dominance)
- Obesity or insulin resistance
- Eating inflammatory foods like sugar, refined foods, alcohol, and dairy
- Stress causes higher levels of cortisol, insulin, and glucose, which can be very inflammatory and lead to weight gain, which can then lead to fibroid growth or an increase in symptoms.
- Hormone replacement in menopausal women
What are the Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?
Because symptoms of uterine fibroids can extend from non-existent to the extreme, some women do not even know they have a fibroid while others suffer terribly. These include:
- Painful periods
- Heavy periods
- Spotting before your period
- Spotting after sex
- Painful sex
- Painful bowels and urination
- Increased risk of miscarriage
If you are reading this article, we expect that you are looking for a way to decrease your fibroid symptoms or get rid of the fibroid altogether.
There are a variety of medical treatments available, including:
- Medications like contraceptive pills, progesterone agents, and GnRH can be used to treat symptoms. Unfortunately, these drugs can temporarily improve symptoms, but the fibroids will remain.
- Intrauterine Devices (IUD) have been shown to decrease the bleeding caused by fibroids.
- Then there are your surgery options.
- A myomectomy can be performed to remove fibroids without removing the uterus. Fibroids are likely to develop again in the future.
- In severe cases, a hysterectomy can be performed. During a hysterectomy, your whole uterus and possibly even the ovaries will be removed. This will take care of the fibroid problem, but it will also leave you infertile and many other possible issues.
- You could also undergo uterine artery embolization. This relatively new procedure blocks the blood flow to the fibroid or fibroids, causing them to shrink and die.
You’ve probably seen these options elsewhere. Maybe one has been recommended by your doctor, or you’ve even tried one but aren’t happy with the results.
There’s good news. If you are suffering from the symptoms associated with uterine fibroids and aren’t interested in prescription medications or surgery, you may find relief by using DIM supplements.
Why Are DIM Supplements Great for Fibroids?
DIM is short for Diindolylmethane. DIM assists the body in reducing harmful estrogen metabolites. Here is a basic outline of what DIM does.
The liver metabolizes estrogen into three forms:
- 16 alpha OH Estrone is “bad” because it is not healthy, nor beneficial. Higher levels of 16 alpha OH Estrone are associated with breast, uterine, ovarian cancers. When it comes to fibroids, high levels of this metabolite can exacerbate them and their symptoms.
- 4OH-estrone is not as “bad” as 16 alpha OH-estrone. However, you do not want a lot of 4OH-estrone around your system because it isn’t beneficial.
- 2OH-estrone is the most beneficial of the estrogen metabolites.
You want to have a higher ratio of 2-OH-estrone compared to 16 alpha OH estrone and 4-OH estrone.
This is where DIM comes in. DIM is derived from the indole-3-carbinol that comes from cruciferous vegetables. It helps decrease the “bad” estrogen metabolites, which reduces the risk of breast/uterine/ovarian cancer. Because it reduces the 16 alpha OH estrone, it also can reduce fibroid symptoms. Research shows it also helps metabolize the bad estrogens into good estrogen.
Some women have even reported shrinking their fibroids using a combination of DIM and lifestyle changes!
DIM is a supplement, not a prescription. But it’s still smart to talk to your healthcare provider about what dose to take and which supplement to choose.
We can help!
Dr. Norton and our staff know hormones. Getting hormones back into balance is one of our specialties. We also know DIM supplements inside and out, so if you are interested in finding out more about how DIM supplementation or any other hormone-related therapies can help you shrink those frustrating fibroids and get the bleeding and cramping under control, we’re here to help.