Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Woman, save your womb

Published:Friday | February 27, 2015 | 2:00 AM

One third of all women in the western world will have their wombs removed surgically before they reach their 60th birthday. Although this has now become an accepted norm, some physicians like myself believe that there is something very wrong with this statistic.

By far, the greatest reason for hysterectomy (womb removal surgery) is uterine fibroids. Fibroids are non-cancerous tumours of the uterus that are extremely common. A 2003 report published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that as many as 90 per cent of black women and 70 per cent of white women will develop fibroids by age 50.

Much less often, hysterectomy is performed for other hormone-related conditions like abnormal bleeding, endometriosis and cancer. In the United States alone, more than 600,000 women lose their wombs each year, mostly because of uterine fibroids. Though women may be led to believe that this surgery is routine and simple, it involves anaesthesia, frequently an abdominal incision, and the other attendant risks of all surgery. And what about the physical and psychological consequences of this procedure?

Amazingly, little research is being done on the cause and prevention of this huge problem. Conventional medicine directs almost all of its attention at treating fibroids and their symptoms only after they become troublesome. It is common for women with small fibroids to be told by their doctors 'lets watch them until they get bigger'. Then surgery will be recommended.

Although there are times when having a hysterectomy is appropriate, such as when cancer threatens, research from the University of Michigan shows that many of these operations are done for no good reason at all. The researchers declared that alternative treatments are not being tried as often as they should. The study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that nearly one in every five women had their uterus surgically removed for no clear reason. This was particularly bad in women younger than 40 years where the rate of needless hysterectomies was 38 per cent.

The lifestyle approach to fibroids: I know of no miraculous alternative therapy that can instantaneously cause you to pass out or expel your fibroids, nor any single product that will magically dissolve away fibroids. I recommend a comprehensive approach that focuses on dealing with the underlying cause and that supports the body's natural healing potential.

 

Safer Alternatives

 

Consider these safer alternatives first and reserve surgery and drugs as a last resort in handling fibroids. These can often relieve the usual symptoms that the fibroids produce - excessive bleeding, pain or pressure, prevent further growth of the fibroids and encourage the long term shrinking of the tumours. The earlier this is applied, the better the results.

Diet: Switch to a plant-based diet, high in organic soy and organic green leafy and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. These contain phytoestrogens, substances that naturally improve a woman's hormone balance. Minimise eating animal foods, especially commercial red meats, dairy and poultry. Avoid processed sugars and carbohydrates like wheat products and soft drinks. Supplement with vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. I use a proprietary nutritional programme called the Cellular Nutrition Programme to easily meet these requirements.

Lose weight, because the fatter a woman is, the more estrogen her body will produce and estrogen fuels fibroids. The same Cellular Nutrition Programme is also an effective weight loss tool.

Use vitamin D: Vitamin D is much more a hormone than a vitamin and four out of five women with fibroids are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D receptors are present in the womb and influence the sensitivity of the organ to estrogens. A study published in the journal Biology of Reproduction demonstrated that vitamin D effectively reduced the size of existing uterine fibroids, and even helped prevent their formation in the first place.

Detoxify: Cleanse the body of the pollutants and toxins that we accumulate from our diet and environment. Many of these chemicals behave like estrogens and aggravate hormonal imbalance. An effective cleansing programme can include herbal cleansers, colon cleansing, fasting, far infrared saunas, and chelation therapy. I frequently use a combination of an aloe vera drink and a fibre/probiotic tablet for a gentle intestinal cleanse.

Herbs: Along with the above, several herbs help control the symptoms of fibroids. These include Tang Kuei, chaste tree, ginger and black cohosh. Get professional advice on their use.

Natural progesterone cream: This is a safe and useful tool to help correct the estrogen dominance causing fibroids. When used correctly, it can effectively relieve fibroid symptoms while inhibiting their further growth. Expert supervision on its use is important.

Stress management: Poor stress management worsens the symptoms of fibroids as chronic stress disturbs the delicate balance of our hormones. Adequate sleep and rest plus effective relaxation strategies is important. If you have troublesome fibroids and worry about cancer, make sure to talk it over with your doctor for reassurance.

- You may email Dr Vendryes at tonyvendryes@gmail.com or listen to An Ounce of Prevention on POWER106FM on Fridays at 8:15 pm. His book An Ounce of Prevention - Especially for Women carries more details on fibroids and other female challenges.