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What Is A Uterine Polyp?
Listen to Ilana Sowter, the author of this article and Doctor of Chinese Medicine speak about Uterine Polyps with Heiko Lade.
A Uterine Polyp is an overgrowth of endometrial tissue or uterine lining. So this is why they are also called Endometrial Polyps. Polyps happen when this lining grows too much. They can be oval or round and can occur in the uterus or cervix (Di Spiezio et al., 2015). Many women have them and a lot of the time they are small and do not interfere with fertility. Uterine Fibroids are made of muscle versus Uterine Polyps are endometrial tissue.
How Uterine Polyps Grow
Uterine Polyps are driven by hormonal factors and have oestrogen sensitivity. They grow when stimulated by oestrogen as does the endometrium every menstrual cycle (Paradisi et al., 2014). This is why it is important to detox excessive oestrogen (especially xenoestrogens) from your body; excess oestrogen may be the cause of your fertility issues (Scsukova et al., 2016).
Excessive oestrogen in the body prevents your body from resolving the uterine polyps.
Studies show that if you have taken tamoxifen (a breast cancer drug) or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT); that there is a reported higher incidence of uterine polyps. This is because these medications act as selective receptor modulators and oestrogen agonists on the endometrium. Uterine Polyps are rare in women under 20 and the main factor is increasing age (Stewart et al, 2017). There is a higher rate of Hyperplasia and Endometrial Cancer in women with Uterine Polyps. Post-menopausal women with uterine polyps are more likely to have this risk (Ricciardi et al., 2014).
How Uterine Polyps Affect Fertility
Uterine Polyps affect fertility in numerous ways. Firstly, they can prevent the embryo from implanting and embedding into the endometrium. Secondly; polyps pose a risk of miscarriage to a growing foetus. Although hysteroscopic polypectomy (i.e. removing the polyps surgically) can increase fertility, often more polyps will grow back if the underlying causes are not treated. If your body is still loaded with xenoestrogens and you fail to make changes to your lifestyle; then they may grow back.
Causes of Uterine Polyps in Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine, the cause of Uterine Polyps is usually a combination of Blood Stagnation, Blood Deficiency with Kidney or Liver Deficiency. If there is an element of Spleen Deficiency involved, then this can potentially causing dampness. Thus with Chinese Medicine, we aim to always move the blood, and resolve any dampness while treating the underlying deficiencies. Just because you have Uterine Polyps doesn’t mean you take one type of Chinese herbal formula to assist it. Chinese Medicine treats the underlying cause (Blood Stagnation) to influence the body to rectify the symptom.
What is Blood Stagnation?
Blood Stagnation occurs when the Blood (Xue) becomes deficient or the Qi is stagnant over a long term and then fails to move properly in a particular area. In Chinese Medicine, good health is considered when both Qi and Blood flow freely and well throughout the body.
Symptoms of Blood Stagnation
Is a principle of Chinese Medicine. When the Blood becomes stuck, you may have symptoms such as:
- Fixed and sharp pain
- Dark vessels or veins under the skin
- Dark and clotty menstrual periods to dark hue to the lips or finger nails.
As we age, our body is more likely to have Blood Stagnation. Thus, most adults will have an element of Blood Stagnation in their presenting pattern. It is very important to resolve any blood stagnation you have as if you take lots of tonifying herbs and supplements, the body cannot absorb these properly as the Blood Stagnation has not been addressed and causes problems.
Symptoms of Uterine Polyps
- Irregular Periods (oligomenorrhoea)
- Unusually Heavy Menstrual Flow (menorrhagia)
- Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding or Spotting in between periods (metrorrhagia)
- Female Factor Infertility
Uterine Polyps can be diagnosed via transvaginal ultrasound, sonohysterography (Bittencourt et al., 2017), hysteroscopy, endometrial biopsy and dilation & curettage (D&C). Regular gynaecological check-ups are important to monitor them. Risk factors include obesity, tamoxifen use (breast cancer drug), HRT and high blood pressure.
Medical Treatment Uterine Polyps
The gold standard in medicine for the removal of uterine polyps is by surgical excision via dilation & curettage (D&C). Risk factors associated with D&C include haemorrhage, infection, perforated uterus, Asherman’s Syndrome and missed disease.
How To Support Your Body To Reduce Uterine Polyps
Reduce Exposure To Xenohormones
Exposure to environmental toxins (usually plastics) can increase oestrogen levels in your body that influence the Uterine Polyps to grow. Xenohormones are hormones which are not naturally occurring: they are artificial and synthetic compounds that behave like hormones. The problem with these Xenohormones is that they disrupt your endocrine system (i.e. organs which secrete hormones) severely (Trasande et al., 2016).
Xenoestrogens are called Endocrine disruptors as the play havoc with your hormones. Good hormones are important for a normal menstrual cycle and fertility. They even affect men’s fertility (Bonde et al., 2016).
Are Xenoestrogens Real?
Yes, scientists now acknowledge that xenoestrogens exist. To the point where having a diet rich in xenoestrogenic food can interfere with breast cancer medication (Warth et al, 2018).
What are Xenoestrogens?
Xenoestrogens are a subclass of chemical endocrine (hormonal) interruptors that alter the normal functions of hormones. These Xenoestrogens have the ability to block or mimic natural hormones and when present in high levels over a long-term scale, they wreak havoc in your body. The breasts and uterus are hormone sensitive tissues, which is why they are most sensitive to Xenohormones and one of the causes as to why so many women sadly suffer from infertility and breast cancer today.
Where Has My Body Accumulated Xenohormones From?
Xenohormones are in plastics (Heindall, 2017). You need to completely refrain, abstain and detox from plastic as much as possible. Look out for:
- Skincare: 4-MBC and benzophenone in suncream, look out for parabens.
- Make-Up, Soaps, Deoderants and Personal Products: If they contain ingredients that you cannot read nor understand, these chemicals probably contain xenoestrogens.
- Plastics: plastics that contain food, plastic containers, plastic bags.
- Food: Xenoestrogens can be in your food. The main ones to look out for are Erythrosine / FD&C Red No. 3, Phenosulfothiazine (a red dye) and Butylated hydroxyanisole / BHA (food preservative). Hence found in processed and packaged foods.
- Bisphenol (Leonardi et al., 2017)
More Sources Of Xenoestrogens
- Building Materials & Paints contain xenoestrogens.
- Notably insecticides do too, they are sprayed on our food so spray free and organic are best options. They can even be contained in dishwashing liquids, laundry powders, weed killer and cleaning products.
- Chlorine is found in swimming pools and drinking water. Go for filtered water.
- Oestrogen-Induced Food such as chicken on growth hormones.
- The Pill (Oral Contraceptive Pill OCP) is also of consideration. The pill is a pharmacological oestrogen, as the drug ethinyestradiol is used for its intended oestrogen effect and thus is considered a xenoestrogen. A study on Iranian women found that women on the OCP were more likely to have early breast cancer than those who were not taking the pill.
How To Minimise Further Xenoestrogen Exposure?
- Plastics: avoid and reduce the use of plastics as much as you can. Reheat food in glass or pots not plastic. Use a plate rather than plastic to cover food in the fridge or microwave. Avoid microwaving food given it changes its natural chemical structure. Store food in glass or ceramics, not plastic. When plastic is subject to heat or cold this can bring out its toxic properties further. Avoid water in plastic bottles. Avoid freezing food in plastic. You can freeze in jars as long as you leave space for the liquid to expand.
- Food: Buy organic, spray-free food that is locally grown and in season. Look for fruit and veg that looks natural rather than the pumped up varieties from the supermarket. Non-organic fruits and veg can be peeled or soaked in water with apple cider vinegar. Buy hormone-free meat and dairy, look for organic and grass-fed. Grass-fed dairy and meat is excellent and has omega 3s.
More Areas To Be Aware Of
- At Home: avoid chemical-laden household products. Go for natural and simple products, they are more expensive but you won’t be surrounding yourself and smothering your skin with chemicals. Unbleached paper products that are free of chlorine are best (cotton organic tampons, period pads, toilet paper, paper towels).
- Water: use a chlorine filter on shower heads and drink filtered water.
- Health and Beauty Products: Go for natural products as much as possible considering toothpaste, deodorant, nail polish, make-up, soaps, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream and perfume. Even condoms and diaphragm gels can contain such chemicals. Many products are loaded with toxic chemicals which have oestrogenic effects, look out for parabens and stearalkonium chloride.
- The Office: can have noxious gases from photocopiers, printers, carpets and fibreboards. Try and get outside for fresh air. Consider some indoor plants at your desk to detox and filter your air!
How Can I Naturally Eliminate Xenohormones From My Body?
Eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale assists your body to clear the excessive oestrogen. As we head into the plastic age, its important to avoid all plastic in your life as mentioned earlier.
In summary, Xenoestrogens have placed an immense cost and burden to the population of America. Attina et al., 2016.
Fibre supports your body to remove excess oestrogen naturally. Eat organic fruits and vegetables with the skin on. Go for dried fruit instead of sweets and chocolate. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables; cooked, steamed and raw. The more variety, the better.
Chinese Herbs & Acupuncture
Chinese Herbs aim to move stagnant Qi and Blood, resolve dampness and warm the Kidney Yang. Make a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of ground clove a day (drink when it has cooled a little), if you are Kidney Yang deficient (see a Practitioner for diagnosis). Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs are excellent for strengthening the body, improving Qi and Blood circulation to the Dan Tian and the uterus.
Chinese Herbs & Acupuncture Women’s Health
In China, there is a long history of treating women’s gynaecological imbalances with Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture. Currently in China, the medical system is integrated so that standard medical treatment is provided safely with Chinese Medicine as routine practice. Countries like Taiwan have Chinese Herbs commonly dispensed in hospitals. Thousands of case reports have shown the efficacy of Chinese Medicine in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea, PCOS, endometriosis, vaginal discharge and more. Chinese Medicine may provide a safe and effective complementary therapy to medical treatment.
What about the research? There is plenty of research, however as Chinese Medicine has a strong anecdotal history. It is almost impossible to conduct large-scale studies given each person is treated differently. Five subjects may have endometriosis and five different diagnosis hence five different Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal protocols. Thus if you look for research regarding Chinese Medicine and uterine polyps, usually the conclusion is insignificant. Most studies say that more rigorously designed, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials with large sample size are needed to prove that Chinese Medicine has a positive effect on treating gynaecological disorders.
Avoid damp or phlegm producing foods that are greasy, spicy or too sweet, and enjoy fresh vegetable, fruits and grains (gluten-free type grains such as millet, quinoa, brown/white rice & buckwheat). Grass-fed meats and organ cuts are good for the Blood, and remember to eat your full-fats, preferable raw, unhomogenised dairy, avocado, ghee, coconut oil and high quality, grass-fed lard. Eating natural good quality fat is good for you. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially greens.
Angelica and Red Date Tea
Increases circulation to the lower jiao to bring fresh, new blood to the area and remove excessive tissue growth, it is healing and can help prevent tissue scarring and damage. Good circulation is vital for uterine health. Avoid in yin deficiency or heat conditions.
You can make a herbal tea with equal parts of Pau D’Arco, Goldenseal Root, Dandelion Root, Fresh Ginger Root, Raspberry Leaf & Nettle Tea. These work in synergy to reduce inflammation in the uterus, cleanse, nourish and improve circulation.
Castor Oil Packs & Uterine Massage
Massaging your lower abdomen and then placing a castor oil pack on the area for 15-30 minutes. If you are trying to conceive, apply massage and Castor Oil Packs every second day from the end of your period to ovulation (if you are actively trying to conceive.
Do not use Castor Oil Packs or apply Abdominal Massage during menstruation.
If you are not trying to conceive, you can do this every second day and into the Luteal Phase of your cycle.
Vitex Agnus Castus (Man Jing Zi)
Taken daily throughout your menstrual cycle at a moderate dose can balance progesterone levels. Always confirm with you health practitioner/herbalist on dosage and if it is suitable for you. It is a very cooling herb so those with yang deficiency or interior cold should not take it.
Do not take Vitex when you are menstruating.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
In Chinese Medicine, Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has a sour and astringent quality to it, which means that it can stop bleeding and flow. It can reduce heavy menstrual bleeding and boost reproductive health. ACV can lower blood sugar (hence benefit diabetes/PCOS patients) and even reduce period pain.
In Chinese Medicine, Uterine Polyps are considered a Blood Stagnation pathology. When Qi and Blood stagnate, there is poor circulation. I often find a lot of women in clinical practise present with Blood Stagnation especially when they don’t exercise. You need to exercise everyday, brisk walking is excellent, as is a quick twenty minute workout. Yoga is lovely to move and flow your body. Interestingly a recent study by lead researcher at Western Sydney University’s NICM Health Research Institute Mike Armour found the most effective treatment for period pain was exercise three times a week.
Louise Hay likened the Heart to the Uterus, and imbalances within the uterus as harbouring negative energy. Time to do inner work, release bitterness and let go of your suffering and learn to love again. I support my patients to do their inner work. Although you can see and feel the physical symptom, you may find there is an emotional hurt underneath if you dig deeper. It may have been that you were raised to feel that you weren’t good enough and never worthy. You may have lacked self-esteem and self-love. You may have thought that you were destined to have fertility issues. These are all beliefs that you have created and accepted in your mind and it is time to hear them for what they are, let them go and move forward with new intentions. The mind is the most powerful aspect of the body, and it leads the body. It doesn’t matter how healthy you are, if your mind is sick or unhappy your body will be too.
If you are needing support for uterine polyps with the current virus situation online appointments are available. Chinese medicine, particularly Chinese Herbal medicine may support the body to rectify Uterine Polyps.
At Femme Vital, expect the best holistic health consultation, tailored treatment and advice with over 10 years experience supporting Natural Fertility and Uterine Polyps with Acupuncture, Dietetics and Chinese Herbs.
Ilana is located in Fairfield Northside Melbourne.
Contact Ilana on +61466 866 450 or send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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