Updated: Jul 21, 2020
Disclaimer: The following article represents my personal journey with fibroids and my expressed opinions are representative of personal research on fibroids. However, I am not a doctor or healthcare provider. If you or someone that you know is impacted by fibroids, I encourage you to seek medical guidance from a qualified medical practitioner who most closely aligns with your preferred method of care.
“I would not worry about them. Fibroids are common in women. If they are not causing you any pain, I would not worry about them.” These were the words of an integrative medicine doctor to me during a new-patient intake appointment. Initially, I sought his medical guidance because I wanted to take a holistic approach to healing my body of fibroids and endometriosis. Instead, he echoed the sentiments of many conventional medical practitioners. I had heard this ‘symptoms management’ message from OBGYNs and reproductive specialists.
Traditionally, doctors have monitored fibroids and depending on their size and location, they will attempt to develop a care plan. However, I wanted a different healthcare approach. I wanted to sit down with a medical doctor who would listen to my health concerns and work with me to investigate the root cause of my health issues, and develop a long-term holistic plan to eliminate my uterine fibroids.
Since my early 20’s, I have dealt with uterine fibroids, which are noncancerous tumors that can grow inside or outside of the uterus. In September 2019, when my abdominal pain worsened, I knew that I needed a follow-up pelvic ultrasound. Therefore, I talked to my reproductive specialist and she ordered the exam. The results confirmed my suspicions. My subserosal and intramural fibroids had doubled in size—with my largest fibroid measuring nearly 7 centimeters. Undoubtedly, this contributed to my abdominal pain.
Still, my reproductive specialist was unphased by the discovery because of the location of my fibroids. She did not think that the fibroids posed a threat to my surrounding organs or the overall function of my uterus. Therefore, she did not recommend a plan of care to address the growth of my fibroid tumors. Rather, she simply noted the pelvic ultrasound findings in my health records.
For me, her response was disheartening because I desperately wanted to do everything within my power to prevent the growth of my fibroid tumors. Yet, my doctor had no answers for fibroid prevention. So, I started reading medical research articles and looking online for cases of women who had shrunk their uterine fibroids using natural remedies. I discovered multiple cases of women who had MRI documented fibroid eliminations without undergoing surgical procedures. All of the women who reported nonsurgical fibroid eliminations had a common thread in their stories. Many of them had transitioned to a whole foods plant-based vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.
One of the stories that I came across was that of Nutritionist and Health Coach Gessie Thompson, who is the author of Hope Beyond Fibroids and the CEO of DETOX LIVING. On “The Chat with Priscilla” show, she shared her testimony about how she became fibroid-free and birthed a beautiful baby girl. After listening to her story, I began researching TheDeToxNow.com — her online wellness platform, which is a holistic nutrition and health coaching practice. I watched testimonial videos posted by women who had gone through the program to eliminate their fibroids. For example, Annalise Henry, who had 57 uterine fibroids, eliminated 50 of her 57 fibroids within six months of starting the program. Her story gave me hope that my desire to shrink my fibroids could become a reality.
In mid-March 2020, my menstrual cycle lasted for twelve days. Even with my history of irregular periods, I had never had such a long cycle. So, I made the decision to contact my doctor to request medical guidance for how to deal with my prolonged bleeding. My doctor shared in my concern and ordered blood work. That same day, she advised me to go to the lab.
Honestly, I was reluctant to reach out for help because I knew that my doctor would most likely want to order blood work, and the State of Michigan had just entered a lockdown state due to the Coronavirus. Needless to say, I did not want to go anywhere near a healthcare clinic, fearing the risk of infection. However, I talked to my doctor because I have other underlying health issues. If something was wrong, I wanted to be able to access proper care. Thankfully, my blood work was normal. Still, I knew that it was time to take the leap and get help from Coach Gessie Thompson and TheDetoxNow.com.
Independently, I tried changing my diet and adopting a more active lifestyle. In December 2019, I became vegan because I no longer wanted to consume animal hormones and I did not like the ways in which many meat products are processed. I prepared 90 percent of my meals at home and I exercised daily. While my dietary and lifestyle changes did improve my overall health---I lost 30 pounds and my foot swelling completely disappeared---I was still experiencing heavy and prolonged periods.
Later, I learned that my uterine fibroids had grown over the course of seven months and I had developed a third fibroid. Without question, it was time for a change. I knew that I needed someone who could coach me through the fibroid elimination process. While my fibroids were not as numerous as Annalise Henry’s, I thought to myself, ‘if she can naturally eliminate 50 fibroids, I can eliminate the few that I have.’ So, after nearly seven months of procrastinating to start the program, I finally ordered the HerElimination Program Kit, which is a holistic system of treatment offered at TheDetoxNow.com for preventing and reversing inflammatory conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis, infertility, PCOS/Cysts, and Adenomyosis.
On May 9, 2020, I began taking the herbal supplements to detoxify my body and I followed the meal plans that came with the program. Detoxifying my body was the first step to healing. Nearly three weeks later, I began taking Eliminate, which is another herbal supplement in the program to aid in the breakdown of my fibroids.
In addition to taking the herbal supplements, I understood the importance of exercising daily and avoiding estrogen rich foods. Because of the research-based reading materials provided at TheDetoxNow.com, I came to understand that even as a vegan there are certain plant-based foods, like spinach, that are high in estrogen. Essentially, I went on an ‘estrogen-fast’ to aid in shrinking my uterine fibroids naturally. The idea behind an 'estrogen fast' is to eat clean non-estrogenic plant-based foods to starve the fibroid tumors of their primary growth fuel over time, causing existing fibroids to shrink and preventing the growth of new fibroids.
While medical researchers are still striving to more fully understand the complex factors that contribute to fibroid growth, they have determined that estrogen dominance is a driving force in the growth of fibroids. In November 2016, Reproductive Science published Estrogen Receptors and Signaling in Fibroids: Role in Pathobiology and Therapeutic Implications, a review of current research findings related to fibroid growth and estrogen receptors in the body. The researchers noted that several genetic, hormonal, and biological factors have been shown to contribute to the development and growth of fibroid tumors. Of these factors, estrogen is particularly critical since fibroids are considered estrogen dependent because no prepubertal cases have been described in the medical literature and tumors tend to regress after menopause. They also noted that aromatase inhibitors were shown to reduce tumor size in clinical trials (2016 November 20 Reproductive Science).
After nearly five weeks of implementing the nutritional and lifestyle protocols outlined in the HerElimination Program, I went for a follow-up pelvic ultrasound. According to my OBGYN, my exam revealed that I had completely eliminated the fibroid that was on my left uterine horn, which was the size of an apple. My doctor noted that based on my pelvic ultrasound that things looked better. In addition to the elimination of my largest fibroid, my abdominal pain no longer exists, my menstrual cycles have become more consistent, and I have lighter bleeding now.
Recently, when I shared my success story with my integrative medicine doctor, I was expecting him to encourage me to continue doing what I was doing and perhaps offer further recommendations for continued success. Instead, he expressed that he was not confident that it would be possible to completely eliminate my fibroids. So, he encouraged me to redirect my focus on ensuring that I have a balanced diet and adequate vitamin intake. While I valued his efforts to ensure that my nutritional needs were met, I was still left wondering, ‘What is it going to take to get a doctor to listen to me and take this matter more seriously?’ I know that fibroid tumors are noncancerous but they are a signal that there is a hormonal imbalance within the body—they are an indicator of estrogen dominance—and estrogen dominance can potentially lead to more substantial health challenges if left unaddressed.
In October 2019, the Columbia University Irving Medical Center published Preventing Breast Cancer: 5 Questions for Katherine Crew, an article that focused on varying cancer risk factors in women and preventative steps. Dr. Katherine Crew, Director of Breast Cancer Prevention Program at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, referenced age, race/ethnicity, family history of breast cancer, benign breast biopsies, and reproductive factors that influence estrogen exposure as risk-factors for the development of breast cancer. Additionally, the article noted that prolonged hormone replacement therapies, which are known to increase estrogen levels in the body, are linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer in certain women (2019 October 23 Columbia University Irving Medical Center).
Although there is a large body of medical research that documents the link between estrogen dominance and other health issues like hormonal cancers, many women that I know receive ‘symptoms management’ messages from their doctors related to fibroids, which are known to be triggered by estrogen dominance.
If women are not encouraged to simply focus on fibroid symptom management, they are often advised to consider surgical options to remove their fibroid tumors and, in some cases, they are advised to consider a hysterectomy. According to Compare-UF, one in seven women will develop uterine fibroids by age 40. Seventy percent of White women are diagnosed with uterine fibroids, whereas 85 percent of African American/Black women are diagnosed with uterine fibroids. Furthermore, African-American/Black women are six times more likely than White women to undergo a myomectomy, which is the surgical removal of fibroids, and they are twice as likely than White women to have a hysterectomy, which is the complete removal of the uterus (2019 Compare-UF Fibroids in African American Women).
As an African American woman, I think there is a need for more medical research studies that focus on nutrition and lifestyle factors in the treatment and prevention of fibroids. While there are undoubtedly genetic and biological factors at play, dietary and lifestyle factors should be considered to scientifically document varied methods and protocols for fibroid treatment and patient care.
While surgery may be appropriate in certain cases, it is not an ideal long-term solution. In many cases, surgical removal of fibroids is merely a temporary solution. There are women who have undergone myomectomies to remove fibroid tumors who have reported that their fibroids have returned within the first five years of having the procedure. In June 2014, the European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology published Long-term risk of fibroid recurrence after laparoscopic myomectomy, a longitudinal study that focused on the fibroid recurrence risk factors of 224 patients who underwent laparoscopic myomectomy for uterine fibroids. The study followed the women for a total of 60 months postoperatively to monitor fibroid recurrence rates. Upon the conclusion of the study, 21.4 percent of the women who participated in the study developed new uterine fibroids. According to the article, the rate of return was higher for women between 30-40 years of age with lower recurrence rates for women who were peri-postmenopausal during the time of the study (2014 June 2 European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology).
In my case, surgery was never recommended by my physicians because of the location of my fibroids and other health considerations. But even if surgery had been put on the table, I think that I would still be reluctant to pursue a surgical intervention because if you do not address the root cause of a problem, the health issue will return or persist. In some cases, it could even lead to other health issues if not properly monitored.
In my view, a myomectomy is like removing a flower from its stem but leaving the roots in the ground. The flower is gone for a moment. Eventually, however, with the right conditions, new flowers are likely to bud in due time. Likewise, in order to prevent the further growth of fibroids, you have to address estrogen dominance and other potential underlying factors to prevent further growth. By addressing the root cause of the issue, like many women, I have started to win my fight against fibroids because I am armed with the right information to inform my eating habits and lifestyle choices. Additionally, I have discovered more effective ways to minimize stress in my life, which is an equally important component to hormonal balance and healing.
With my success in eliminating my largest fibroid and the success stories of other women, it makes me wonder why there are not more doctors who are willing to listen to women who are using holistic practices to heal their bodies of fibroids. Unfortunately, I think these are missed opportunities for doctors and patients to work together to develop the best plan of care for optimal healthcare outcomes.
In light of the communication barriers that exist in many conventional patient care settings, I think that qualified health coaches play an important role in serving women and men who seek a more holistic healing approach. At least this has been my experience, and my choice to work with a health coach has not stopped me from communicating with my conventional medical doctors. Rather, it has simply given me another health resource to get the proper support that I need to achieve my desired health outcomes.
In August 2020, I plan to have a follow-up pelvic ultrasound to assess any further changes in my remaining two uterine fibroids. This will officially mark 90 days of me being on the HerElimination Program from TheDeToxNow.com and using the protocols for eliminating my fibroids. If my pelvic ultrasound reveals that my fibroids are still on my right uterine horn, I will remain consistent in eating clean plant-based meals, exercising daily, and taking my herbal supplements because I know that it can take time to balance hormones and heal. Still, the fact that I have eliminated one fibroid, as documented by my pelvic ultrasound, is enough to keep me motivated. It lets me know that I am on the right track for my health.
For more information about fibroids, please visit https://compare-uf.org/ .To learn more about the HerElimination Program, download the free MP3 about Estrogen Dominance, sign up for a free group consult or book a private consult with Coach Gessie at https://thedetoxnow.com/. Follow Coach Gessie on Instagram @CoachGessie.
Article & Media Citations:
The Chat with Priscilla (2018, May 7). Hope Beyond Fibroids. YouTube. https://youtu.be/X-BJwida4lQ
C. Caruntu, A. Mirica, A.E. Rosca, R. Mirica, A. Caruntu, M. Tampa, C. Matei, C. Constantin, M. Neagu, A.I. Badarau, C. Badiu, and L. Moraru (2016, November 20). Estrogen Receptors and Signaling in Fibroids: Role in Pathobiology and Therapeutic Implications. Reproductive Science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6535286/
(2019, March 22). Preventing Breast Cancer: 5 Questions for Katherine Crew. Columbia University Irving Medical Center. https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/preventing-breast-cancer-5-questions-katherine-crew
(2020, July). Fibroids in African American Women fact sheet. Compare-UF. https://compare-uf.org/learn/
M. P. Radosa, Z. Owsianowski, A. Mothes, A. Weisheit, J. Vorwergk, F. A. Asskaryar, O. Camara, T. S. Bernardi, I. B. Runnebaum (2014, June 2). Long-term risk of fibroid recurrence after laparoscopic myomectomy. European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25016181/