Is there such a thing as fibroid-shrinking pills? Today we are going to discuss some of the treatments that are available for uterine fibroids and if it is possible to shrink fibroids through natural means, medication, or through a pill.
Uterine Fibroids: Diagnosis and Treatment
If you have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, you may be experiencing some unpleasant symptoms or doing some research to find out what you can do to prevent them from occurring. Sometimes, treatment is not needed for uterine fibroids because they are not causing any symptoms. In this case, patients are normally monitored and evaluated periodically to determine if they are experiencing fibroid growth or related symptoms.
If you are experiencing symptoms, your OB-GYN has probably suggested a major surgical procedure to remove your fibroids (myomectomy or hysterectomy) and most women immediately look for less invasive solutions.
If you are looking for alternative treatments for uterine fibroids, chances are you have run across advertisements offering herbal supplements or companies claiming to sell capsules or tablets to shrink fibroids.
Why Do Uterine Fibroids Occur?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous, abnormal growths composed of the same types of cells that form the muscular layer of the uterus. These growths manifest as round hard masses that attach themselves in and on the uterus.
Unfortunately, experts do not know why uterine fibroids occur. They do know that certain categories of women are predisposed to uterine fibroids and that estrogen facilitates fibroid growth.
80% of all women experience fibroids during their lifetime but many are asymptomatic. The reasons are unknown but African American women have a higher risk for fibroids and fibroids appear to be hereditary. The risk for developing fibroids is increased for women who started their periods at a very young age, obese women, women with a vitamin D deficiency, and women who consume an excessive amount of alcohol.
What Do We Know About Fibroid Growth?
Although we do not know exactly why fibroids occur, experts have discovered that they are sensitive to estrogen. Pregnant women often experience the rapid growth of existing fibroids in the first trimester of their pregnancy due to the influx of estrogen in their systems during this time.
Obese women are more susceptible to fibroids primarily because excess fat promotes excess estrogen production. Many processed foods, meats, health, beauty, and personal care products contain ingredients that closely mimic natural estrogen. When entering our systems it interferes with our estrogen receptors and can result in a wide range of women’s health issues such as cancers and abnormal growths like uterine fibroids.
Understanding the link between estrogen and fibroid growth is important if you are trying to keep them from growing. The takeaway here is that avoiding sources of artificial and unnecessary excess estrogen exposure can help keep fibroids from growing larger.
Are There Pills To Shrink Fibroids?
The most honest answer to this question is maybe, but they will only work temporarily. Sometimes natural/herbal supplement remedies can help women find relief from fibroid symptoms and also some prescription medications that doctors may use as the first line of treatment for their patients.
Natural Herbal Supplement Fibroid Shrinking Pills/Capsules
Green tea extract and a vitamin D supplement called 25-OH-D3 have undergone laboratory testing to study their effect on the reduction of fibroids. These studies were limited but the findings and data were encouraging.
- Green Tea Extract (EGCG)
- Epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG (green tea extract) can be found in many dietary supplements and belongs to the catechins classification of compounds. Elevated amounts of these catechins can be found in berries, tea leaves, and cocoa. EGCG has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and promotes the suppression of benign and malignant cell growth.
There has only been one small study conducted to determine the effect of green tea tablets to shrink fibroids and included 33 women who completed the study. All of the women were experiencing fibroid-related symptoms at the onset of the study. Two-thirds of the women were given 800 mg per day of green tea extract and the remainder were given a placebo. After four months, the women taking the green tea extract saw about a 30% decrease in the size of their fibroids whereas the placebo group recorded an average increase in growth of 25%.
The results of this study were promising but it is important to keep a few key factors in mind.
- The study was very small and the findings may have been extraordinary;
- There are no regulations regarding supplements in the United States so green tea extract quality can vary significantly;
- Supplement capsules and brewed green tea effectiveness can vary and some concern has been expressed regarding green tea and the levels of aluminum or caffeine being introduced to the body.
- Vitamin D (25-OH-D3)
- Vitamin D is a vitamin that assists your body in utilizing magnesium, phosphate, and calcium and is fat-soluble so it is important not to consume over the recommended amount.
The association between a deficiency in vitamin D and fibroids is a fairly recent area of study and has shown that women who suffer from a deficiency in vitamin D, are more likely to develop fibroids. When tested on lab rats, vitamin D halted fibroid growth and did shrink the fibroids by almost 75%.
Supplemental vitamin D (25-OH-D3) was used in a study of just over 100 women who had 5 or fewer smaller fibroids to test its efficacy in preventing fibroid growth. Fibroids grew almost 40% larger in the women who did not take vitamin D supplements vs the women that were taking the supplements and experienced no change in fibroid size. The Vitamin D pills did not shrink fibroids during this study but did keep them from getting larger.
- This derivative of the turmeric and ginger family has been studied by multiple scientific groups for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. When curcumin was tested on cultured fibroid cells it impeded the production of the cells that promote fibroid growth. There has not been enough testing to determine if curcumin supplements would be successful in shrinking fibroids.
Prescription Fibroid Relief Pills
It is important to note that most medical prescriptions that are given to women with uterine fibroids do not shrink fibroids; they mainly provide relief from fibroid-related symptoms. GnRH agonists are currently the only medications approved to shrink fibroids and are only approved for use for up to six months.
- Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Agonists
- These FDA-approved drugs are often prescribed to help shrink fibroids, shrink the uterus, alleviate heavy menstrual bleeding, relieve the symptoms of anemia, and prepare a woman for myomectomy surgery. These drugs are effective but bring with them such awful side effects that they are not considered safe to take for more than six months. As soon as women stop taking this medication, all the benefits reverse.
- Birth Control Pills & Injections
- Different contraceptives are often prescribed to help lessen the symptoms of heavy bleeding caused by fibroids such as Depot-Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA) commonly known as Depo Provera, progestin-based oral contraceptives, and IUDs. Only Depo Provera seems potentially promising in having the capability to prevent or shrink fibroids but there is still insufficient data to draw any conclusions. The overall consensus from experts is that these contraceptives are not effective in shrinking fibroids but some may lessen the risks of developing them.
Pills To Shrink Fibroids? Nope, Just Kidding
In the recent past, there have been a few prescription pills developed to shrink fibroids – Fibristal or Esmya (Ulipristal acetate) and Yselty (Linzagolix).
- Fibristal/Esmya (Ulipristal acetate)
- Fibristal Tablets to shrink fibroids worked by blocking key hormones responsible for fibroid growth and also helped to manage the symptoms associated with fibroids like heavy menstrual bleeding and back pain. Fibristal (Ulipristal acetate) was approved and distributed in Canada until October 2020 when it was pulled off the market by the Canadian government.
Esmya was the brand name for the same drug as Fibristal and was marketed in Europe but was denied approval by the US FDA for use in the United States.
These drugs caused some cases of serious liver injury that required liver transplants and as a result Allergan, the drug’s manufacturer, chose to withdraw them from the market.
As a result, the PRAC (European Medicines Agency’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Committee) recommended revoking the marketing authorization of products containing ulipristal acetate used for the treatment of symptoms of uterine fibroids.
- Yselty (Linzagolix)
- Yselty (Linzagolix) is a GnRH antagonist that offers flexible dosing but unlike other GNRH drugs that can only be used for six months, Linzagolix could be used in lower doses for an undetermined amount of time.
Yselty was approved in Europe in June 2022 but was kicked back by the US FDA citing “important deficiencies” in their data. The company that originally submitted to the U.S. FDA, (ObsEva) returned the rights to the drug’s original Japanese creator (Kissei Pharmaceutical Co), and then in August 2022, Kissei withdrew their application from the U.S. FDA review.
Sadly, there are no magic fibroid-shrinking pills. Any time an individual takes an engineered drug, there are always side effects and drugs that interfere with a woman’s natural hormone balance seem to create side effects that are just too dangerous.
What Is Better Than A Magic Pill To Shrink Fibroids?
The good news is there is a safe, effective, minimally-invasive treatment that will eliminate fibroids forever. This treatment only takes 45 minutes and can be done in an office environment as an outpatient procedure without having to take any drugs or endure an invasive surgical procedure.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a quick procedure that is performed by an Interventional radiologist to block the blood supply that the fibroids rely on to live. Without this vital supply of blood, all fibroids, no matter where they are located, or how large they are, shrink and die.
Most patients find symptom relief as early as their first menstrual cycle after UFE and almost all patients experience a significant reduction or elimination of fibroids by 3 months post-procedure. The success rate of UFE is approximately 90-95% and is permanent. Not only that, women get to keep their uterus and the possibility of having children.
If you are suffering from uterine fibroid symptoms, contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center today and set up a consultation to learn more about uterine fibroid embolization and how it can help you. The experts at Atlanta Fibroid Center are ready to answer all your questions and address your concerns.
At The Atlanta Fibroid Center, we understand that fibroids can interfere with your personal life, your career, and your relationships. We want to help you take back your life and be free of fibroids forever. Contact us today!