In the November 9, 2010 journal Epidemiology
, an abstract was published on the relationship between childhood abuse and uterine fibroids
. The researcher article states: “Childhood adversities are associated with adult health. We hypothesize that exposure to physical and sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence will be associated with incidence of clinically symptomatic uterine leiomyomas (fibroids) through influences on health behaviors and reproductive hormone regulation.”
Translated into non-clinical language, this article discusses findings that indicate there is an identified accumulative, lifelong effect of physical and emotional childhood abuse on mature women’s reproductive health, resulting in uterine fibroids. These fibrous growths cause pain, abdominal bleeding and infertility. They can turn into a life threatening condition if not treated and controlled.
The relationship between abuse and fibroids should come as no surprise, as it is well documented that prolonged stress has detrimental affects on health. Hans Selye, MD, PhD, named “the father of stress” for his 55 years of medical research on the subject, demonstrated how prolonged stress affects the immune system, digestive system, reproductive and hormonal systems as well as the cardio-vascular integrity of the body.
Why the specific stress of childhood abuse should manifest itself physically as fibroids requires a closer look at how self-esteem and reproduction are linked.
Study author Dr. Renee Boynton-Jarrett of the Boston University School of Medicine, explained that “among those who developed fibroids, nearly 70 percent reported some history of abuse. Relative to women with no history of abuse, women who said they had been abused as children were between 8 and 36 percent more likely to develop fibroids, with the risk of fibroids increasing the greater a woman's exposure to severe, chronic or multiple types of abuse.”
The abuse was not limited to sexual abuse, but included emotional, verbal and physical abuse as well. What is well known in psychological circles is that when we as human beings are not valued and are treated in a way that is degrading - by being attacked or abused in any form - this has a profound impact on our self-esteem, which in turn has a long-term stress impact on our hormonal system.
For women with a long term hormone imbalance brought about by fear and self-esteem issues, the hormonal system becomes easily choreographed to create reproductive organ dysfunction such as fibroids. However, other forms of reproductive conditions such as the absence of the menstrual cycle, infertility, abnormal menstrual spotting or bleeding and abnormal/missed menstrual cycles can also occur as well.
What can be done for women who have experienced childhood abuse and are now experiencing fibroids? Today, Integrative, Whole Person focused medicine offers “inside out” healing modalities women can explore, such as homeopathy, nutrition intervention, visualization, meditation and a host of other approaches designed to change the way the nervous system functions and thus in turn heal or improve the condition.
- Dr. Georgianna Donadio