As you may have seen, there are many articles in the press and on the Internet promoting herbal tea and supplements as an option to manage the symptoms of uterine fibroids. These symptoms can include pain, heavy bleeding, anaemia and fatigue amongst many others1, 2. So can herbal tea and supplements really have an effect on these symptoms when, up until this point the mainstay of treatment has been surgery?
Let’s get back to basics – what’s causing the fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign growths of smooth muscle and fibrous connective tissue. You may have only one or you may have a few. They may increase in size in response to oestrogen therapy and many regress after menopause. They may increase rapidly during pregnancy. Many are asymptomatic and you may have them without experiencing any of the more severe symptoms. Known therapies target the hormonal nature of the condition or in the worst case scenario, lead to surgery. With this in mind, it’s normal to try to find less severe ways of dealing with uterine fibroids and herbal treatments are an attractive prospect. But are they having the effect you are expecting on your symptoms?
Surgery or not surgery?
For many years, one of the only answers to uterine fibroids was invasive treatments. In fact, treating fibroids is not a ‘black and white’ issue. Today, most women will look online for help before approaching their doctors and many will try to search for the easiest remedy that won’t involve medication or surgery. It’s very important that you have all the facts to hand and that you know all the options available in order to improve symptoms. Each woman’s journey is different and this is why you should identify with your doctors the best option for you.
Unfortunately though, in the quest for information on the internet, you will find many sponsored links taking you to websites to order teas and supplements that may not have undergone rigorous testing or research. While these may not do any harm, they also may not have any effect on your fibroids. Listening to some of the women who take them, they find comfort in taking a lightweight and harmless solution. It may feel like you are taking a gentle step in the right direction. But when your symptoms are so intense that they impact your daily life, in many cases your only wish is to deal head on with your fibroids.
How to make the right choice for your condition?
So, if you think alternative therapies are not enough for you, what do you do? You will probably book an appointment with your doctor or directly with your gynaecologist for a check up. There is a clear need for a standard of care when treating women with fibroids. Even across the UK, patient groups are talking and the options are not always made readily available with hysterectomy still suggested as the first option in many cases. There are more non-invasive treatments that can preserve your uterus and lead to a shorter recovery time, there are medical management options, there are options, and you owe it to yourself to discover them.
What to keep in mind…
You’re a woman, you may be (or want to be) a mother, you probably have more pressures than ever before with your job, your home, balancing it all. Why should your treatment become another lottery? Whatever you do, don’t delay improved health while you test treatments that you find online and that seem like “natural treatments”. Arm yourself with the options available and don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t understand or agree with what is being recommended.
1 Gupta S., Jose J, Manyonda I. Clinical Presentation of Fibroids. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol 2008; 22(4): 615-626
2 Spies JB, Coyne K, Guaou GN, Boyle D, Skyrnarz-Murphy K, Gonzalves SM. The UFS-QOL, a new disease-specific symptom and health-related quality of life questionnaire for leiomyomata. Obstet Gynecol 2002;99:290–300