By Jessica Silver, MAOM, L.Ac.
Q: What are fibroids?
A: Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that are made up of the muscle and connective tissue from the wall of the uterus. Fibroids may grow as a single nodule or in clusters and may range in size from 1 mm to more than 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), uterine fibroids affect at least 25% of women.
Q: What are the symptoms of fibroids?
A: Though many women with fibroids do not experience obvious symptoms, others suffer from excessive menstrual bleeding, painful periods, bleeding between periods, pelvic pain or fullness, pain during intercourse, and frequent urination.
Aside from the above symptoms of inconvenience and discomfort, fibroids can also interfere with fertility and are the leading cause of hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) in the United States. Milder cases are usually treated with hormone medications and less invasive surgery to control fibroid growth.
Q: Are there any alternative or natural treatment options to having a hysterectomy for fibroids?
A: Yes. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy have been used for centuries to treat uterine fibroids effectively. In very severe cases, there may be no alternative treatment from heavy medications or surgery. However, in many cases fibroids will effectively shrink or disappear as a result of Chinese medicine. Aside from being gentle and promoting whole-person health, treatment addresses the root cause of fibroid growth instead of just the symptom itself. When the underlying cause of fibroids is treated, they are less likely to keep growing back, which tends to be a problem following hormone or surgical treatments. For many women, the fibroids disappear naturally after menopause.
You might also consider the medical alternatives written about extensively and compassionately by Dr. Herbert Goldfarb who published the The No-Hysterectomy Option, Your Body Your Choice, in 1990 because most physicians advocated the final solution to most women's gynecological abnormalities to be hysterectomy. On his website he states, "The sad truth of the matter is that the uterus and pelvic organs are often considered by physicians to be expendable once a woman's childbearing years are over. The pelvic organs are rarely studied outside the realm of reproduction. Most doctors believe that once a woman has had her children, the uterus and ovaries are then useless and can be removed".
According to the FDA article entitled Alternatives to Hysterectomy;
"The United States has one of the highest rates of hysterectomy in the world, with about 5 out of every 1,000 women each year having the operation, according to the CDC. Other industrialized countries show lower rates; in England, for example, the rate is less than 3 per 1,000 women annually. In Norway, it's less than 2 in 1,000. Some are concerned that many hysterectomies are done unnecessarily in this country. "There are some cases where hysterectomy is the only option, for instance, for some types of cancer," says Anthony Scialli, M.D., director of the obstetrics and gynecology residency program at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. "But I think we perform too many hysterectomies. It's a matter of American gynecologists being accustomed to performing a hysterectomy and American women being accustomed to getting one--based on their mother or other female relative having one. The one thing in favor of a hysterectomy is that it works for abnormal uterine bleeding--but it should be the last step, not the first step."
Q: How do acupuncture and Chinese herbs treat fibroids?
A: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treats fibroids as a symptom of energetic imbalance, just as it treats other medical complaints. Your acupuncturist will determine the underlying cause of the disease through careful evaluation of your present symptoms as well as a head-to-toe assessment of all the body's functions. They will treat you using acupuncture, dietary, lifestyle and herbal suggestions tailored to your body's individual diagnosis.
Q: Which underlying energetic imbalance causes uterine fibroids?
A: Most patients have several imbalances occurring simultaneously, but very commonly there is impeded blood flow to and from the uterus, known as blood stagnation, leading to accumulation of excess tissue. Other frequently related issues include imbalance of the liver and spleen energetic systems, the yin energy and/or phlegm accumulation.
Q: How many treatments does it take to treat fibroids?
A: Each patient's case is different, and the number of treatments required depends on several factors including the size of the fibroids and how long they have been growing in the uterus, as well as the underlying energetic condition of the patient. If the patient makes dietary or lifestyle changes and takes Chinese herbs consistently, results will be achieved faster. In general, treatment should be administered weekly for at least three menstrual cycles for noticeable differences.
Q: How can I get more information about treatment?
A: Call today for a free 15 minute consultation at Aiyana Acupuncture or to schedule your first appointment! 212-894-0767.
Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
41 Union Square West, Suite 519
New York, NY 10003
"I have been proud to call Ms. Aiyana a professional colleague for many years. Ms. Aiyana is a dynamic and engaging speaker and writer. She has the rare ability to combine science, sage wisdom and common sense and make it accessible to both the professional and the lay person alike. I have listened to Ms. Aiyana speak in seminar and have observed her interact with many on an individual basis. I have learned a great deal from, and have been inspired by her prolific writing on numerous topics. I highly regard and recommend Ms. Aiyana. On a personal note, I have also had the pleasure of being a patient of Ms. Aiyana. Her skill, confidence and warmth as a Health Care Practitioner are second to none."
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