How to Shrink Your Fibroids

Fibroids (leiomyomas) are growths or noncancerous tumors made of smooth muscle cells and connective tissues that grow in the uterus.  Fibroids are very common—up to 70% of women will develop uterine fibroids in their lifetime. You may have just one or many fibroids at a time. 

Fibroids range in shape and size—some are as small as seeds, and others can grow to the size of a grapefruit or larger. Fibroids can grow or shrink over time, and the sex hormones (e.g., estrogen, progesterone) play a role in whether they shrink or grow.

Uterine fibroids don’t always cause symptoms, but larger fibroids may cause pain and discomfort, including pain during sex, low-back pain, and painful menstrual periods. Read on to learn how home remedies, lifestyle changes, and doctor-prescribed treatments may help shrink fibroids and alleviate painful symptoms.

Language Considerations

The words “female” and "women" are used here to refer to people who identify as women and have typical reproductive organs of a cisgender female. We recognize that some people who identify as women do not have the same anatomy as that depicted in this article.

Ways to Potentially Shrink Fibroids

Verywell / Jessica Olah

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

Many women with fibroids turn to home remedies and lifestyle changes to alleviate fibroid symptoms, slow fibroid growth, and reduce the risk of developing more fibroids.

Diet

While diet alone will not shrink fibroids, the foods you eat may help you find relief from symptoms. Research suggests that eating a diet low in fruits and vegetables can increase your risk of developing fibroids.

Eating certain foods may help prevent or slow fibroid growth, including:

  • Fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens, citrus fruits, and potassium-rich fruits, such as avocado and bananas
  • Lean meats (such as chicken) 
  • Legumes (including beans, peas, and lentils)
  • Fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel) 
  • Green tea

Eating red meat, consuming alcohol, and having vitamin D deficiency are all associated with fibroid development. One study found that women deficient in vitamin D had the largest fibroids. Adding fortified foods rich in vitamin D to your diet—like cereal and milk, mushrooms, eggs, and nuts—may protect against fibroid development and growth.

Exercise

Exercise won’t do much to reduce the size of any existing fibroids, but studies show that regular physical activity may help maintain a healthy hormonal balance in women and prevent fibroid development. Exercise releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) that may help reduce fibroid-related pain.

Eating a nutritious, balanced diet and getting regular physical activity may help improve fibroid symptoms, but there is no evidence to suggest that they can shrink fibroids. If your fibroids are impacting your daily life, your healthcare provider may suggest prescription medications and/or medical procedures to shrink or remove the fibroids. 

Natural Alternatives for Fibroids

Visit the natural treatments for uterine fibroids article for more information about these remedies. 

Prescriptions

Prescription medications such as hormonal birth control can help treat fibroid symptoms, but they do not shrink fibroids. Over-the-counter pain relievers (such as Advil ibuprofen and Tylenol acetaminophen) may help reduce pain. Vitamins and supplements can help ensure you get the nutrients your body needs, including iron, if you have anemia caused by heavy bleeding, for example. 

Mifeprex (Mifepristone)

The hormone progesterone is associated with the growth of uterine fibroids. Mifeprex (mifepristone) is a drug that blocks progesterone. This medication has been shown to effectively treat fibroids; it can both shrink existing fibroids and reduce associated symptoms, including prolonged menstrual periods, heavy bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure, menstrual cramps, and anemia.

GnRH Agonists

Gonadotropin‐releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists are a type of medication that inhibit the production of estrogen and progesterone, essentially putting your body into temporary menopause to help shrink fibroids. GnRH agonists effectively shrink fibroids, but they can cause serious side effects, including decreased bone mineral density.

GnRH agonists are often prescribed on a short-term basis due to the potentially harmful side effects. There is also a risk that the fibroids will grow back once you stop taking the medication. For these reasons, GnRH agonists are often prescribed for women who are awaiting surgery for fibroid removal.

Surgeries and Specialist-Driven Procedures

Hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is the most effective way to eliminate fibroids. But if you want to have more children or prefer to keep your womb, there are other procedures to shrink or remove fibroids.  

MRI-Guided Focused Ultrasound Surgery (FUS)

Magnetic resonance imaging–guided focused ultrasound surgery, also known as focused ultrasound surgery (FUS), uses ultrasonic pulses to heat up and destroy fibroid tissues. This minimally-invasive procedure is associated with a reduction in fibroid size, improved symptoms, and better quality of life in women who have undergone the procedure.

Uterine Artery Embolization

Uterine artery embolization (UAE), also known as uterine fibroid embolization, is a minimally invasive procedure that may reduce fibroid symptoms. Using a flexible tube (catheter), your healthcare provider will inject small particles (called embolic agents) into the arteries to block blood supply to fibroids. This causes the fibroids to shrink or die. 

Uterine artery embolization has a high success rate. Over 91% of women report a reduction in symptoms following UAE, including heavy menstrual bleeding, anemia, and pelvic pain. In a 2021 study, investigators observed a 73% reduction in fibroids one year after the procedure.

Laparoscopic Radiofrequency Ablation

Laparoscope radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a procedure that uses heat to destroy fibroid tissue and significantly reduce its size. Small incisions are made in the abdomen so your healthcare provider can access the fibroids and protect the surrounding healthy tissues (e.g., ovaries, uterus).

Most women can expect relief from fibroid symptoms within three to six months following the procedure. A 2019 review of studies on RFA found that on average, fibroid volume decreased by 66% a year after the procedure.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are sometimes used in combination with or in place of standard treatments. Speak with your healthcare provider before trying any CAM options to manage symptoms and treat fibroids. 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that involves inserting thin, tiny needles into specific points on the body to relieve symptoms of certain health conditions. Acupuncture won’t cure fibroids, but research shows it can help reduce heavy menstrual bleeding and chronic pelvic pain.

A small 2019 study found that a specific form of acupuncture called Tung's 7-point acupuncture protocol may help reduce fibroid symptoms. Nine out of the 14 study participants experienced complete elimination of all fibroid symptoms after 12 weeks of treatment, with no adverse side effects. Larger studies are needed to confirm the study's findings.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies use plants as medicine (e.g., stem, leaf, root) to treat certain health conditions. Guizhi Fuling—also called Gui Zhi Fu Ling Tang—is a popular herbal formula used in traditional Chinese medicine that contains herbs that may help balance hormone levels and shrink uterine fibroids. These herbs include:

  • Ramulus Cinnamomi
  • Poria, a type of mushroom
  • Taoren, also called Semen Persicae
  • Radix Paeoniae Rubra or Radix Paeoniae Alba
  • Cortex Moutan

A review of several studies found that a combination of Gui Zhi Fu Ling Tang and the medication mifepristone is more effective than using mifepristone alone. This herbal remedy shows promise as a way to manage fibroids and reduce symptoms, but more clinical studies are needed to determine its effectiveness and safety.

Fibroids and Hormonal Changes

The sex hormones estrogen and progesterone play a role in the development and growth of fibroids. Hormonal shifts caused by pregnancy and menopause may have an impact on how fibroids grow or shrink.

Pregnancy

Estrogen levels rise significantly during pregnancy. As a result, fibroids may grow or develop during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester. However, fibroids often shrink after giving birth. Research shows that 70% of women who were pregnant and gave birth experienced a more than 50% reduction in fibroid size.

Menopause

During menopause, the body produces less estrogen and progesterone. The drop in hormone levels reduces the risk of developing fibroids and may help pre-existing fibroids shrink. 

If you are close to the age of onset of menopause (between 45 and 55 years old), you may want to consider “watchful waiting” before opting for any fibroid treatments. Watchful waiting is an approach that involves regular pelvic exams and symptom tracking to monitor fibroids. This approach is often recommended for women who have mild fibroid symptoms that can be managed through nonmedical approaches or are nearing menopause.

Summary

Fibroids are noncancerous growths that commonly develop in a woman’s uterus during her childbearing years. Fibroids can range in size from as small as a seed to as large as a grapefruit. Fibroids don’t always cause symptoms, but larger fibroids may cause pain and discomfort that affect your quality of life. A healthy diet may prevent fibroid development and growth, but it is not known to shrink fibroids. Some home remedies may help manage fibroid symptoms but are not a cure. 

Prescription medications, surgeries, and specialist-driven procedures such as uterine fibroid embolization may effectively shrink fibroids. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best method to shrink fibroids and alleviate symptoms.

A Word From Verywell

If your fibroids are impacting your day-to-day life, talk with your healthcare provider about treatments that may help shrink your fibroids. Your healthcare provider may recommend watchful waiting if you have mild symptoms or are nearing menopause.

If fibroids are affecting your quality of life, there are many options to consider to try to shrink them. A healthy, balanced diet may help prevent future fibroid development and will benefit your overall health and wellbeing. Talk to your healthcare provider before trying any herbal remedies or alternative treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do fibroids bleed when they shrink?

    Bleeding may occur when fibroids shrink both after surgical and nonsurgical interventions to treat fibroids. A fibroid breaking down (degenerating) may cause severe bleeding in rare cases.

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

    It can take between two and three months for fibroids to shrink after embolization. Over time, your symptoms will decrease and your menstrual cycle should return to normal. 

  • How does blackstrap molasses shrink fibroids?

    Though loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that may be beneficial to your health, there is no evidence to suggest that blackstrap molasses can effectively shrink fibroids. If your fibroids cause heavy bleeding, blackstrap molasses may help treat or prevent anemia.

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