What are Fibroids?

Fibroids, (also known as uterine fibroids, uterine leiomyomas or uterine myomata) are small, non-cancerous growths, which occur within the uterus.  They can vary in size from microscopic and quite unnoticeable to large growths that can put cause pressure and pain.

Fibroids can grow within the muscles of the uterus, on the outside of the uterus, within the uterine cavity or on rare occasions may growth within the cervix.  Fibroids are very common and affect around 80% of women, although many of these will be asymptomatic with severe symptoms presenting in up to 30% of cases.



There are three main types of fibroids

  • Myometrial fibroids
    • Grow within the muscle wall of the uterus (myometrium)
  • Extra-uterine fibroids
    • These are attached to the outside surface of the uterus
  • Intra-uterine fibroids
    • These are attached to the inside of the uterine wall

Fibroids generally appear after puberty within a woman’s childbearing years when estrogen levels are high and commonly reduce after menopause.

Although the cause is unknown, we do know that their growth is dependent on estrogen.  Factors that may increase the risk of fibroid development include

  • Estrogen dominance
  • Early menarche/puberty
  • Few or no pregnancies
  • Long follicular phase menstrual cycle
  • Hormone replacement therapy


How do I know if I have fibroids?

Symptoms of fibroids can vary from completely asymptomatic, to severe discomfort.  The severity of symptoms can depend on the positioning and size of the fibroid, however in some cases even very small fibroids can cause severe symptoms.  Symptoms can vary depending on where the fibroids are located.  Symptoms include

  • Myometrial fibroids
    • Heavy menstrual bleeding if large in size
    • Pressure on adjacent organs if especially large
  • Extra-uterine fibroids
    • Heavy menstrual bleeding if large in size
    • May cause pressure related symptoms
    • Blockage of the fallopian tubes
  • Intra-uterine fibroids
    • Commonly cause heavy menstrual bleeding even if small

If you suspect you may have fibroids, your GP or specialist can perform a manual examination.  This can help diagnose larger fibroids.

For smaller fibroids that may not be detected through manual examination, an imaging device such as ultrasound may be used to better view the internal organs.


How do fibroids affect fertility?

Fibroids are believed to cause infertility in around 2 – 10% of infertility cases due to the following complications

  • Irregular or lack of ovulation
  • Blocked fallopian tubes
  • Poor implantation due to endometrial disturbance
  • Abnormal uterine blood flow hindering sperms journey to the egg


What can I do to help me conceive?

Not all women with fibroids will experience fertility issues in fact some may not experience any symptoms at all and go on to have healthy pregnancies.  However even if fibroids are small and symptom free, steps should be taken to prevent further growth and reduce risk of new fibroid formation.


Surgery is one of the only medical options available.  Some supportive medications may be prescribed prior to surgery, however these medications are not useful when trying to fall pregnant.

  • Myomectomy
    • The aim of a myomectomy is to remove existing fibroids. However it won’t stop new fibroids growing back.  This is the only surgical option for women still wanting to conceive.
  • Uterine fibroid embolization
    • This procedure helps to shrink or completely destroy existing fibroids however it can throw the body into early menopause and cause infertility. Therefore this is not a suitable option for those wanting to conceive
  • Hysterectomy
    • Hysterectomy is the complete removal of the uterus. For obvious reasons, this is not an option for women wishing to conceive.


  • Danazol
    • This drug helps to reduce the size of the fibroid and is often prescribed prior to surgery. This cannot be taken if trying to conceive as it can cause serious harm to an unborn baby.
  • GnRH agonists
    • These drugs commence a medical induced menopause and are therefore also not suitable if wanting to conceive


Herbal support

  • Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)
    • Ginger is excellent for supporting circulation to the uterus as well as reducing inflammation.
    • Recommended dose – 500 – 1000mg per day or fresh ginger can be grated and used to make herbal tea.
  • Raspberry leaf
    • Raspberry leaf helps to tone the uterine muscles as well as helping to normalise menstrual blood flow. It also possesses astringent properties, which can be beneficial for supporting the contraction of fibroids and reducing excessive bleeding.
    • Recommended dose – 400 – 800mg 3 x per day or 2 – 4 cups of raspberry leaf tea per day
  • Milk thistle
    • Milk thistle is a gentle liver tonic to support clearance of excess estrogen. It also provides mild anti-inflammatory action
    • Recommended dose – 10,000 – 15,000mg 2-3 times per day


Nutritional support

  • Iron
    • Iron deficiency is relatively common in women with fibroids due to the regular heavy bleeding. Ensure a healthy intake of iron rich foods and have your iron levels checked by your Health Care Professional to see if supplementation is required
    • Recommended supplemental dose – 5 – 24mg per day (do not exceed the Upper Safe Limit of 45mg per day unless under medical supervision)
    • Food sources – Oysters, beef, turkey, chicken, pork, fish, soybeans, lentils, kidney beans, spinach, tofu
  • Vitamin C
    • Vitamin C is naturally found in most iron rich foods to support the absorption of iron.  Taking vitamin C alongside an iron supplement is recommended to support absorption


Focus on

  • Whole foods
  • Focus on vegetables and vegetable based protein sources
  • Limit red meat, which can exacerbate inflammation and focus on white meat or vegetarian iron sources
  • Increase fibre to support estrogen clearance eg.
    • Dark green leafy vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Quinoa
    • Chia seeds
    • Flaxseeds
    • Quinoa
    • Beans and legumes
    • Wholegrains such as brown rice, spelt, millet, oats, rye, barley and buckwheat


  • Processed, refined white grains
  • Processed/junk foods
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Saturated/trans fats


Exercise helps to stimulate healthy circulation, to prevent stagnation and help alleviate congestion, which may be present around the fibroids.  Aim to exercise for around 30 minutes 5 times per week.  Particularly core exercises focusing on the uterine region can be beneficial, for example belly dancing, Pilates and yoga or even grab yourself an old fashioned hula hoop!