Uterine fibroids are a fairly common female gynecological condition. Fibroids or leiomyomas are benign tumors that grow in the muscular layer of the uterus. They often can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms that can interfere with a woman’s normal, active lifestyle. Many women who suffer from fibroid symptoms want to know if they can or should exercise with fibroids and if it will aggravate the fibroids or help to ease their symptoms. Today we are going to answer some of these questions.
Should I Exercise If I Have Fibroids?
“Can I be physically active with uterine fibroids? Are there any fibroid exercises recommended for women with myomas? Are there exercises that I should avoid if I have fibroids?” These questions are asked by many women suffering from fibroid symptoms which include abdominal pain, heavy bleeding, chronic fatigue, etc.
The answer is yes! You should exercise but it is important that you choose the right types of exercise so you do not make your symptoms worse. Regular fibroid exercises can help relieve pain or even slow down tumors’ growth. However, fibroids can limit or completely interfere with exercise.
Why Do I Need to Exercise with Fibroids?
It is important to try not to give up physical activity when suffering from uterine fibroids. Fibroid exercises can actually help with managing the symptoms and if the fibroids are treated, they can help with the healing process. Exercise helps you keep from accumulating body fat which is a reservoir for estrogen. This added estrogen stimulates fibroid growth. Exercise also improves your mood due to the release of endorphins.
Excess Weight Increases The Risk Of Uterine Fibroids
Weight gain combined with inactivity and stress is a common risk factor for the development and growth of uterine fibroids. Physical activity helps balance the body by regulating weight, metabolism, and hormonal levels, it also reduces stress and often improves fibroid symptoms.
Can Losing Weight Shrink Fibroids?
Fibroids are exacerbated by estrogen and excess fat produces excess estrogen. Reducing the amount of excess fat on the body also lessens the risk of fibroids and may even cause them to shrink. Losing weight will not eliminate fibroids but it may lessen the symptoms associated with uterine fibroids.
How Can Fibroids Interfere With Exercise?
1. Fibroids Can Cause Fatigue
The first way fibroids can interfere with a woman’s desire to exercise is when they cause a condition called iron deficiency anemia. This is in addition to the heavy menstrual bleeding that many patients suffer from. The significantly decreased iron levels resulting from the anemia will leave women weak and chronically fatigued. This will limit or completely impede any exercise; often leading to weight gain.
2. Exercising With Fibroids Can Cause Discomfort or Pain
If the fibroids are large enough, certain exercises, e.g. sit-ups, abdominal crunches, or medicine ball exercises, may not be able to be performed due to pain and sensitivity created when the anterior abdominal wall is pressed on.
3. Trying to Exercise With Fibroids Can Cause Discouragement
Fibroids often drain a woman’s body of energy. Women may tire easily while trying to exercise and just give up.
Fibroids are firm tumors. When they are located in the front of the uterus, the patient may be able to feel them as they are as hard as rocks. They may cause a belly pooch and even give the appearance of pregnancy. If despite all her efforts she finds it impossible to have a flat stomach with fibroids, she may become discouraged and discontinue the exercise.
Are There Exercises That Help Fibroids and Make Them Worse?
Not every type of physical activity may be suitable for women with uterine fibroids. It will largely depend on individual fitness levels, symptoms, fibroid location in the uterus, and more. Make sure to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. Follow recommendations on which exercises would be best for you and the ones to avoid based on the locations and sizes of the uterine fibroids.
Why Some Exercises Are NOT Recommended For Uterine Myomas?
Typically, exercises that require intense physical activity are not normally recommended when a woman has uterine fibroids as these can cause:
- Pain and pressure;
- Fibroid growth – we know that fibroids need a blood supply to grow and thrive and while performing certain exercises, blood flow to fibroids can significantly increase and result in fibroid growth which is the opposite of what is intended;
- Increased fatigue – symptoms of fibroids can already deplete a woman’s body of strength and energy so intense exercise routines may be too much of an added strain.
Exercises to Avoid If You Have Fibroids
- Heavy lifting – fibroids and heavy lifting are not a good combination as it can push a concentration of blood flow to the abdomen;
- HIIT training or high-intensity interval training;
- Exercise with weights depending on your doctor’s recommendations;
- Athletes with uterine fibroids should consult a doctor before beginning professional sports training.
Exercises That Can Help Women With Fibroid Pain Relief
Fibroid symptoms can cause extreme discomfort and eliminating the fibroids is the only way to find true fibroid pain relief. In the interim, some women prefer to use natural remedies such as exercising or stretching to find relief from fibroid pain. Performing some of the following exercises or using yoga for fibroids may help temporarily alleviate some of the discomforts you are experiencing.
- Daily morning exercises, e.g. turns, bends, flexion-extension of the arms, legs, etc., performed at a slow pace;
- Water aerobics and swimming;
- Easy jogging, walking, and training on a stationary bike or treadmill at a slow pace;
- Breathing exercises. They can help with weight loss and reduce stress;
- Pilates – one of the best types of physical activity that strengthens muscles without over-stressing the body;
- Yoga – Yoga does not have the ability to shrink fibroids like the myth you may have heard, however, it can help manage some of the symptoms associated with fibroids. When using yoga for fibroids, ensure you find stretches, poses, and positions that do not add to the pelvic pain and pressure you may already be dealing with. There are many online resources available and yoga sessions designed just for women with fibroids. Search for “Yoga for Fibroids”.
- Cardio exercises can be a good choice as they help lose extra weight and strengthen your immune system;
- Physical therapy when necessary due to other health conditions – light exercises performed under the supervision of a trained medical professional.
It is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle if you suffer from uterine fibroids, with diet and exercise being vital components of this lifestyle. However, living a healthy lifestyle alone cannot cure uterine fibroids or offer you permanent relief from fibroid pain and other symptoms.
To defeat fibroids and the associated unpleasant symptoms, consider the nonsurgical treatment option, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This outpatient, 45-minute procedure can reduce and eliminate fibroids and their symptoms, preserving the uterus, while offering a much shorter recovery time than traditional fibroid surgery.
To learn more about how to get rid of fibroid pain forever with UFE, contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center® at (770) 953-2600 or make an appointment online at ATLii.com.