Health Concerns

Uterine Fibroids

Hormonal Influence

Since fibroids tend to increase during pregnancy and decrease during menopause, presumably due to fluctuating levels of estrogen, uterine fibroids are considered to be estrogen-dependent (Pollow 1978). To further substantiate this finding, in leiomyomas (leio meaning smooth; myomas meaning a common benign fibroid tumor on the uterine muscle), estrogen levels were persistently elevated whereas progesterone showed contradictory levels from test results, some showing low concentrations and others showing elevations (Sadan 1987). Thus, the recommendation of progesterone is clouded.

As late as 1995, various researchers stated that estrogen did not directly stimulate myoma growth, but it is actually progesterone and progestins that promote fibroids. Various practitioners have, however, reported excellent results regarding uterine fibroids and progesterone usage. Because progesterone research is confounding, women using progesterone should be closely monitored. The consensus is more unified, however, that women with uterine fibroids should attempt to lessen the entry of exogenous estrogen substances into their systems.

Practitioners report that fibroids the size of a 13-week fetus (the size at which Western medicine begins discussing the need for a hysterectomy) have been successfully treated using the reduced-estrogen method. The accompanying heavy uterine bleeding has also been controlled with this conservative treatment.

Various researchers believe that women with fibroids, due to the estrogen load that a contraceptive delivers, should avoid oral contraception. Other practitioners, who believe the only notable association with oral contraception is a significantly increased risk among women who used oral contraceptives at age 13-16 years, question this theory (Marshall 1998). The risk of developing a uterus that is not strong physically appears to increase with early menarche, parity, or history of infertility. It seems prudent to select an alternative form of birth control other than oral contraceptives if health of the reproductive system is questioned.

Controlling estrogen levels is difficult in our estrogen-laden environment. Estrogen has become a significant problem because the hormone has ways of entering our food and water supply. Various agricultural chemicals mimic the activity and structural description of estrogen, provoking heightened estrogen receptivity on estrogen receptor sites. Pesticides initially invade our airspace and then later appear as residual by-products in the food chain. Urine, contaminated with high levels of residual estrogen from birth control pills, can seep back into water supplies through inadequate sewage treatment procedures. Obviously, estrogen replacement therapy at menopause can worsen uterine fibroids due to increased levels of circulating estrogen.