How to Shrink Your Fibroids

Fibroids, also called uterine fibroids, myomas, and leiomyomas, are noncancerous tumors that form in and around the uterine walls. They’re made of muscle cells and other tissues. They may be as tiny as a seed or grow larger than a lemon. You may have multiple fibroids or just one.

Fibroids can shrink or grow over time. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but in many cases, a change in fibroid size appears to be linked to the level of estrogen in your body. When you have high levels of estrogen, like during pregnancy, fibroids can get bigger. When you reach menopause and have less estrogen, fibroids can shrink or disappear.

Fibroids aren’t life threatening, and many people who have them are not bothered by symptoms. But large fibroids may lead to:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Bloating
  • Pain
  • A feeling of pressure in your abdomen

Luckily, there are treatments available to shrink fibroids and ease symptoms. Read on to learn more.

Gynecology, consultation. Gynecologist explains to a woman about a disease of the uterus

peakSTOCK / Getty Images

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

While foods can’t shrink or eliminate fibroids completely, your daily diet and lifestyle may play a role in reducing your risk. People who eat more red meat and drink alcohol have been found to be more likely to have fibroids. A diet low in fruits and vegetables has also been found to increase the risk of developing fibroids.

Studies suggest that diets high in the following may be helpful to slow fibroid growth:

  • Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel
  • Lean meats such as chicken and turkey
  • Green vegetables
  • Legumes such as lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, soybeans, and peanuts
  • Citrus fruits
  • Green tea

A review of literature linking fibroids and diet concluded a low intake of fruit and green vegetables is linked to a higher risk of fibroid formation, but it is unclear exactly how or why this occurs. Diet alone can’t treat fibroids. However, a balanced diet may help prevent fibroids from forming in the first place.

Diet and Fibroids

Eating brightly colored fruits and vegetables is good for your general health. Consuming a variety of red, yellow, and orange foods will provide you with rich antioxidants. While bananas are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, there is no evidence to suggest that they can shrink fibroids.

Prescriptions

There are medications that people take to manage the symptoms of fibroids which don’t shrink the fibroids themselves.

Hormonal birth control can reduce bleeding, and medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help ease pain. Vitamins and iron supplements can help with energy if you suffer from heavy bleeding and have anemia as a result.

Thankfully, there are medications available that are proven to shrink fibroids.

Mifepristone

Recent investigations have shown that the hormone progesterone is essential for the maintenance and growth of uterine fibroids. Mifepristone (known as RU-486), an anti-progesterone drug, has been shown to be effective in the treatment of fibroids, resulting in decreased fibroid size and symptoms.

A meta-analysis was carried out on trials involving 780 people with a uterus with symptomatic uterine fibroids. Mifepristone was found to reduce fibroid volume and alleviate symptoms, including prolonged periods, the amount of menstrual blood loss, pelvic pain, pelvic pressure, anemia, and menstrual cramps.

GnRH Agonists

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists are a type of medication that suppresses ovulation by stopping the production of estrogen and progesterone. They are given as an injection every one to three months.

Taking GnRH agonists puts your body into a menopause-like state for a short period of time, and you may experience symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, headaches, and fatigue. The treatment is effective in the short term, with a median rate of fibroid volume reduction reportedly ranging from 42% to 58.3%. Once treatment stops, the fibroids often grow back.

Loss of Bone Density Side Effect

One of the side effects of GnRH agonists is loss of bone density. For this reason, the medication is only prescribed for periods of three to six months at a time.

Surgeries and Specialist-Driven Procedures

Hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is the only way to completely eliminate fibroids, but if you are looking to shrink fibroids while preserving your womb, nonsurgical treatments are available.

MRI-Guided Focused Ultrasound Surgery (FUS)

Magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery is a non-invasive treatment option that happens while you’re inside an MRI scanner equipped with a high-energy ultrasound transducer. Sound waves heat and destroy small areas of fibroid tissue until most or all of the fibroid is destroyed.

A review of available literature on FUS found it to be a promising technique for decreasing fibroid volume and symptoms. However, there was a discrepancy in the percentage reduction after FUS. The decrease in fibroid volume ranged from 9.3% to 90%. It was noted that further studies will be required before FUS can be recommended as an alternative fibroid treatment.

Uterine Artery Embolization

In uterine artery embolization (UAE)—also called uterine fibroid embolization—a healthcare provider uses a flexible tube (catheter) to inject small particles into the uterine arteries, which supply blood to your fibroids and uterus. The goal is to block the fibroid blood vessels, starving the fibroids and causing them to shrink and die.

A review of literature relating to UAE found that there was a reduction in fibroid volume of 40% to 75% in the first six months following UAE. In studies with longer follow‐up, this was shown to continue in most people.

Pregnancy and UAE

Research on getting pregnant following uterine artery embolization is inconclusive, so if you are planning a pregnancy, this procedure may not be for you.

Laparoscopic Radiofrequency Ablation

During laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation (RFA), healthcare providers use a laparoscopic or “keyhole” technique, making small incisions in the abdomen, individually heating the fibroids with targeted energy, sparing the healthy uterine tissue around each growth.

Radiofrequency ablation is a “volume-reduction” procedure, with the goal to shrink fibroids. A systemic review of studies found that at 12 months follow-up after RFA, on average fibroid volume decreased by 66%.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

These natural treatments may or may not help to shrink fibroids, since the outcome depends on how severe your symptoms are and how quickly your fibroids grow. You should speak with your healthcare provider before trying any of these options.

Acupuncture

For people in the United States who use natural medicine to treat fibroids, about 16% try acupuncture for symptoms.

While studies show it can help with menstrual cramps and bleeding, there is still a lack of evidence on its effect on shrinking fibroids. Clinical trials are currently underway to assess if acupuncture can affect the size of fibroids.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies are used in traditional Chinese medicine to slow fibroid growth and treat symptoms. One herbal formula is called Guizhi fuling or Gui Zhi Fu Ling Tang. This formula contains several herbs that claim to shrink uterine fibroids, balance hormone levels, and keep your uterus healthy. These include:

  • Ramulus Cinnamomi
  • Poria
  • Semen Persicae
  • Radix Paeoniae Rubra or Radix Paeoniae Alba
  • Cortex Moutan

A systemic review found that combining Gui Zhi Fu Ling Tang with the medication mifepristone was found to be more effective than mifepristone alone. However, researchers recommend that further clinical trials with large sample sizes be undertaken.

Warning About Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies have the potential to interact with other drugs. They’re also not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal medicine.

Fibroids and Hormonal Changes

The growth of fibroids depends on the presence of estrogen and progesterone. Hormonal birth control, hormone therapy, and the hormones of pregnancy can all cause fibroids to grow more rapidly.

Pregnancy

Most fibroids do not get bigger during pregnancy, but one-third may grow in the first trimester. Fibroid enlargement may be influenced by estrogen, and estrogen levels rise during pregnancy.

However, fibroids often shrink after pregnancy. In one study, researchers found that three to six months after delivery, 70% of pregnant people who had live births saw their fibroids shrink more than 50%.

The reasons uterine fibroids may shrink or disappear in the postpartum period are not clearly understood, but it’s thought the mechanical and cellular changes that take place during birth can play a crucial role.

Menopause

During menopause, your body produces less estrogen and progesterone. As a result, your risk for new fibroids decreases. The drop in hormone levels may also help pre-existing fibroids shrink.

If you are nearing menopause, rather than radical surgery or treatment that may cause disruption to your daily life, your healthcare provider may recommend “watchful waiting,” which involves no treatment, just regular pelvic exams to monitor fibroid growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do fibroids bleed when they shrink?

It is normal to have some bleeding or spotting after nonsurgical and surgical procedures to shrink fibroids. In some cases, remnants of fibroids are passed through the vagina with the blood.

How long does it take for fibroids to shrink after embolization?

It may take two to three months for your fibroids to shrink enough for symptoms to decrease and your menstrual cycle to return to normal after embolization.

How does blackstrap molasses shrink fibroids?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that blackstrap molasses can shrink fibroids.

A Word From Verywell

Talk with your healthcare provider or gynecologist about the best plan to shrink your fibroids. Watchful waiting might be an option if you are nearing menopause, and while the effect of diet on fibroids isn’t fully understood, a healthy balanced diet can only benefit your overall health.

There are many options to try to shrink fibroids if they are affecting your quality of life. Remember to consult your healthcare provider before taking any type of herbal remedy or supplement.

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