Let’s talk about womb health.
Last month I discussed womb health and menstruation on my FB live video. The intention, as always, is to help you learn natural health remedies to support your hormone balance. You can watch the video by visiting my FB page and also read some of the information I shared during my talk below!
- The uterus, AKA the womb, is a hollow, upside down pear-shaped organ approximately the size of a closed fist and located in the abdomen (belly), between the bladder and the rectum (above pubic hair, below tummy button) .
- The upper end of the uterus/womb is connected to the fallopian tubes, whilst the lower, narrow end, called the neck, becomes the cervix, which extends into the back of the vagina.
- The upper portion is the larger part, and it is here where babies grow and are nourished during pregnancy.
- The uterus is very thick-walled and quite elastic, demonstrated by its ability to expand to hold a growing baby and then return to approximately its prior size after the baby has been born
The uterus is made up of three special layered linings of tissue and muscle.
- The innermost layer is called the endometrium. After the onset of puberty, the endometrium lines the main body of the uterus and this is where a fertilized ovum implants providing a nesting place with immediate nutrition for the fertilized egg. If a woman is not pregnant, this lining is not needed so it separates from the uterus and leaves the body as menstrual flow during the menstrual period. This process is repeated monthly. Immediately a new lining begins to form in case a pregnancy occurs during the woman’s next cycle. Except during a pregnancy or some abnormal circumstances, this series of events continues uninterrupted from puberty to menopause.
- The second/middle layer is called the myometrium. This gives the uterus its great strength and elasticity. The myometrium contracts during the birth process and forces the fetus out of the uterus into the birth canal.
- The outer third layer is called the perimetrium. It is a thin external covering for the other two layers. The uterus is held loosely in place in the pelvic cavity by several sets of ligaments: the broad ligament, the round ligament and the uterosacral ligament.
Although the uterus is not directly involved in sexual activity, it does undergo changes during sexual excitement. When a woman is sexually aroused, the uterus lifts upward, increases in size and remains enlarged until orgasm or until stimulation stops.
The Womb and Menopause: During and after menopause, the reduced supply of estrogen causes the womb/uterus to shrink in size. It no longer enlarges in response to sexual stimulation but the feelings of sexual excitation, orgasm and fulfillment remain, and women can continue to enjoy sex as much as before menopause.
Signs and symptoms of menstruation imbalances
|Painful periods (dysmenorrheal)||Very Short Periods (less than 4 days)||Irregular or lack of periods||Prolonged bleeding cycles (7 days and more)||Cramps|
|Large Clots||Abdominal Bloating||Back Pain||Nausea and Vomiting||Severe and increasing abdominal pain throughout the month|
|Hypermenorrhea (heavy periods)||Irritable bowel||Urination frequency||UTI’s||Painful and/or uncomfortable sex|
|Recurrent miscarriage||Fertility issues||Nausea and Vomiting||Reduced ability to control bladder||Vaginal dryness|
|Vaginal discharge||Pelvic pressure and pain||Constipation||Backache and leg pain||Annovulation|
|Fibroids||endometriosis||Ovarian cysts||Uterine prolapse||Cyclic mental health or mood swings|
Sometimes called cysts These are non-cancerous tumors that occur in the uterus of 20-35% of all reproductive-age women. They are made of muscle and fibrous tissue and can occur in multiple locations within the womb. Symptoms of fibroids include irregular bleeding, vaginal discharge, and frequent urination although many oestrogen dominant women suffer with fibroids but have NO symptoms.
- Post menopause fibroids are supposed to reduce in size and eventually disappear as oestrogen reduces in the body but I often see patients still suffering with them in their late 50’s..
- Fibroids are categorized by where they grow in the uterus.
- Intramural fibroids are located in the wall of the uterus and are the most common. They can cause the uterus to bulge. Submucous or Submucosal fibroids are found within uterine lining and can protrude into the uterine cavity. Generally, these are ones that can cause the most problems. Since they are located in the uterine endometrium, they can cause heavy prolonged bleeding during menstruation. These can cause pregnancy issues as grow during pregnancy which can be annoying for the baby! Subserous or Subserosal fibroids develop on the outside of the uterus and usually have the least symptoms. Subserous fibroids can develop stalks so become more polyp like and grow very large.
- This is a common condition of the uterus often seen in women aged 30+. I regularly see clients suffering with this, although un-diagnosed, within my clinic. Conventional medicine seems to think it is seen most frequently in women who have not had children but, from clinical experience, I think that terminations are often linked with it.
- So what is it? Well tissue that looks and acts like endometrial tissue begins to grow in unusual places, such as on the surface of the ovaries, on the outside of the uterus, and in other tissues in the abdomen.
Adenomyosis is also referred to as “uterine endometriosis.” Endometrial cells from the lining of the endometrial cavity, migrate from that lining, most commonly into the side or back wall of the womb and attach to muscle. As these cells respond to monthly hormonal changes, blood can get trapped in the myometrium producing a hard and enlarged womb. This form of endo is most frequently seen in women in their early to middle 40s and is often associated with hormone imbalance…usually excessive estrogen supply.
· Various published studies have shown that 12% of patients with adenomyosis also have been diagnosed with endometriosis in other sites outside the uterus, within the pelvis. As high as 62% of women who had hysterectomy were found to have this disease on pathology reports.
- The first type appears as solid tumors and are called adenomyomas. This form of the disease is localized and is an encapsulated collection of endometrial cells with well defined borders. They appear much like fibroids and are often mistaken as such. Many can be safely removed from the uterus
- The second, and more common type, is the diffuse disease that spreads out within the uterine myometrium. As the endometrial cells invade the organ, the uterus becomes enlarged and hardened, making pelvic exams and intercourse very painful. At the cellular level, the uterine muscle cells are being damaged losing their ability to stretch and contract. This is the main reason for miscarriages during the 2nd and early 3rd trimester of pregnancy.
- This is an increase in the number of normal cells lining the uterus. Although it is not cancer, it may develop into cancer in some women. The most common symptoms are heavy menstrual periods, bleeding between periods, and bleeding after menopause.
- Uterine Prolapse – loosening of the support muscles and tissues in the pelvic area
- Hysterectomy – removal of the uterus
5 nutrients to support womb health
Magnesium: The average adult female requires between 280 and 300 milligrams of magnesium daily. If you suffer from fibroids or any uterine disorder you may need more than the recommended amount, although you should discuss the proper dosage with a qualified nutrition or naturopathic practitioner . Magnesium is found in foods like leafy greens, nuts, tofu, legumes, potatoes with the skin on, whole grains but you can also take it via a supplement and transdermally (Epsom Salts and transdermal sprays and oils). Magnesium glycinate, malate and citrate.
Infertility: Magnesium can relax spasms in fallopian tubes that prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus.
Nerve problems and muscle spasms and cramps: Magnesium helps eliminate peripheral nerve disturbances that can lead to migraines, leg and foot cramps, gastrointestinal cramps, and other muscle aches and pains including uterine related disorders . Use Malate
Pregnancy: Magnesium stops early labour onset and a deficiency is linked with recurrent miscarriages.
Constipation: Helps the colon muscles relax and supports bowel movements
Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include:
Anovulation (a failure to release an egg during the monthly cycle) occurs in some women with B12 deficiency. In these cases, a cause of the B12 deficiency is the decreased production of intrinsic factor (IF), a protein normally made in the stomach, which is necessary for proper absorption of B12. This leads to the development of malformed red blood cells, known as pernicious anemia.
Fertility Issues Some studies link B12 deficiency and abnormal oestrogen levels. This can interfere with implantation of the fertilized egg, failure to conceive and to successfully carry a baby full-term.
Abnormalities of the cells of the reproductive tract, extending to the lining of the uterus and cervix, which might be diagnosed as cervical dysplasia.
Unexplained fatigue/apathy/ loss of energy and motivation, muscle weakness and poor circulation, tingling in the extremities , mental fogginess and memory problems , mood swings.
PLANTS: Evening Primrose oil is amazing support for hormones. Take 1000 mg daily for second half of the cycle. Alternatively, try Sea buckthorn oil: Either massage into skin, take via a supplement or drink daily. Particularly good for vaginal dryness, digestive disturbance, skin issues. Sea buckthorn contains more than 190 active nutrients, including 60 antioxidants, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B9, C, D, E, F, K and P; Omega 3, 6, 7 & 9 Essential Fatty Acids; 42 lipids; 17 amino acids; organic acids; folic acid; carotenoids, phytosterols, flavonoids, phenols, terpenes and tannins; 5-HT (serotonin); and 20 mineral elements. t is the richest source of Vitamin C among all fruits and vegetables. With such an impressive array of constituents. Dosage: like 5 – 45 g of sea buckthorn oil per day or 330 mg of its fruit juice per day.
Turmeric: An amazing anti-inflammatory! Hot Toddy to Support Uterine and Digestive Health: Half teaspoon turmeric, ginger root, honey, cinnamon, black pepper . Zest and juice of half a lime or lemon– add hot water and drink daily.
Other nutrients that support the uterus include Vitamin’s A-K, Folic Acid, Iodine, Zinc, Selenium, Chromium, Choline, Biotin, Amino Acids, Super Greens, Hemp Seed Oil, Star Flower Oil, Coconut Oil, Fish Oils, Blackcurrant Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Reishi, Cordyceps and Shiitake Mushrooms, Flaxseeds and chai seeds, fennel and macca. Herbals: Agnus Castus, Dong Quai, Milk Thistle, Blessed Thistle, Vine Thistle, Siberian Ginseng, Cramp Bark, Ginger, Raspberry Leaf, Sarsparilla, Liquorice, Kudzu root. Ayurvedic Herbs: Shatavari, Turmeric, Aloe Vera. Ashwaganda, Tulsi, Chywanaprash, Triphala
5 DIY TECHNIQUES FOR WOMB HEALTH
1. Epsom Salt Baths: Contraindications: Heart trouble, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Pregnancy
Epsom Salt Baths are made of the mineral magnesium sulphate. When magnesium sulphate is absorbed through the skin (such as in a bath) it draws toxins from the body, sedates the nervous system, reduces swelling, relaxes muscles and is a natural emollient and exfoliator. Hot water draws toxins out of the body to the skin’s surface, and whilst the water cold it pulls toxins from the skin.
Directions: Dissolve up to 500 mg of Epsom salts in a warm bath with Creation Aromatherapy Essence. Lay back and relax for up to 20 minutes. Do not use soap or body wash etc. When you get out of the bath have a short cool shower. Drink plenty of fluids. Great for constipation, anxiety and also menstrual cramps
2. Castor Oil Packs: Contraindications: Pregnancy, high temperatures or when on prescriptive medication unless under guidance of qualified practitioner.
Castor oil packing is cleansing for the whole of the intestinal tract and is a great aid to detoxification, stimulates liver and gall bladder health, reduces adhesions and scarring, as pain relief, reduces inflammation, releases constipation, supports the immune system and as an aid to relaxation.
Castor oil packs can be used on most areas the body although a pack should also be placed on the liver in addition to any other areas.
Directions: Pour enough cold pressed castor oil over a flannel to saturate it. Warm the saturated flannel by either placing in microwave for a short period or steaming over hot water. Once warmed, lie down and place the warmed flannel over your liver – located on the right side under the breast bone and underneath the right side of the rib cage. Place an old towel over the pack and wrap the towel around yourself to avoid leakage, and as an aid to keep the castor oil pack in place. Now place a hot water bottle or similar on top of the towel above the castor oil pack. Lie still and relax for 20-30 minutes. Once completed store the pack and then ensure you drink a large mug of warm water to support release of the toxins.
Storage: Keep flannel in an air tight container and use up to 20 times again – although the castor oil may need to be topped up periodically before replacing fully. Castor oil packs can be purchased from my Etsy Shop
3. Ginger Packs for the Womb : Contraindications: Pregnancy, babies and the elderly, pregnancy, appendicitis and pneumonia, high fever
Directions: Grate 4-5 oz of fresh root ginger and place into a muslin cloth or bag or old sock!. Tie at the top but leave enough room for water to circulate. Place the ginger bag into a litre of boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes. When the ginger infused water is ready soak a flannel or muslin in it and them squeeze out and compress. Apply this to the kidney area or area of stiffness/cystitis and add a towel to keep warm. Refresh the pack in the hot ginger water at regular intervals (about about 5 minutes) for about 20 minutes or so. You know when it is enough because the flesh will be showing a lasting deep red colour.
4. Abdominal Massage to support the womb:
The importance of oxygen and movement cannot be underestimated for womb support . It is commonly accepted that massage increases circulation, reduces stress and lowers blood pressure Whilst these 3 benefits alone will assist many menstruation and digestive disorders here are some more ideas. As we know movement maintains flexibility and oxygen supports life and vitality and renewal! So, actually abdominal massage does not actually have to be hands on at all – here are a few ideas :
Belly dancing, chakra dancing, zumba and hula hooping ! Yes, that’s right. Not only great but helps keep the pelvic basin moving and oxygenated.
Yoga : Yoga asana practice is amazing for both menstruation and digestion. Twists and inversions provide an amazing digestive massage but need to be advised by a yoga teacher during menstruation.
Abdominal Massage: Gentle, precision massage, with or without the application of heat, relieves painful symptoms, promotes and reinstates normal peristalsis and the body’s natural rhythm
Manual Lymphatic – is very gentle but super powerful. MLD releases toxins using very specific movements using the hands and fingers. This pumping movement directs and enhances lymphatic flow. It has many uses for congested skin conditions, headaches, sinus congestion, sluggish circulation, bloating, IBS, swelling, cellulite reduction and digestive conditions causing toxin retention and amazing post surgery.
Fertility Massage . Main focus of the massage is the torso, from the pubic bone to ribs, and then lower lumbar, sacrum and buttocks.
The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® is founded on the ancient Mayan technique of externally repositioning internal organs that have shifted, thereby restricting the flow of blood, lymph, nerve and chi. Midwives and healers of Central America believe that most female troubles are caused by the wandering womb. This form of massage addresses position and health of the pelvic and abdominal organs. The work is best known for the correction of the prolapsed, fallen, or tilted uterus and for the prevention and treatment of benign prostate enlargement in men, and for relief of many common digestive disorders.
Abdominal Massage: How-To
Unlike some other forms of massage, abdominal massage is easy to self perform. Various techniques exist
Start below your sternum, with one whole hand, move down your abdomen on the left hand side of your body below your rib cage with a downward stroke and follow with the other. Cycle one hand over the other and continuously repeat the motion in a backwards bike-pedaling motion. This will encourage movement of waste down into your bowels and also oxygenate the womb.
- Use your fingertips and massage in small circular motions. Move from the sides of your abdomen right side inwards and then downwards once more. Go progressively deeper with your fingertips but always keep it comfortable.
- Now gently place the heel of your hand on your pelvic bone and lift upwards in step like motion to your womb area. Gently massage.
When you’re first starting abdominal massage, proceed slowly and gently. If you find some tender areas, lighten the pressure. Lying down and sitting up are both effective but most beginners experience the best results when lying down on the floor or in a bed.
5. WOMB Healing: Heso Chiryo Ho (Navel Healing Technique)
This technique is one you can use for any disharmony in the body because the naval is considered to be the centre of the body. It is a very simple technique but one that you might not wish to do on anyone other than yourself and helps you connect with your womb goddess!
Place your middle finger into your navel and feel the pulse, gradually becoming in tune with the rhythm. Imagine that a white light of pure Energy comes through your finger and enters your uterus. Allow the flow of Energy to clear this area of any imbalances. Once you feel comfortable with this you hold the feeling until you are totally relaxed and balanced.
Justine Evans ND is a Hormone Alchemist and and fertility doula. She is a degree qualified nutritional therapist and registered naturopath (ND). Passionate about female health Justine integrates a mind/body approach to women’s health using cycles, seasons and moon energy but also integrates functional medicine. Justine is the founder of Creation Fertility and it’s products. Justine can be contacted on 07747 133170
Disclaimer: This article has been written as personal opinion and guidance only and should not be construed as medical advice. I am not a medical doctor.