Fibroids are a literal pain. And if you suffer from uterine fibroids, then you probably want to know about every possible treatment option.
About half of all women will experience fibroids by the age of 50.1 And because fibroids can be both painful and disruptive to your life, this statistic means that all women should be aware of fibroids and how to take care of them.
If you already have uterine fibroids or want to be prepared in case they appear, then keep reading. This article will explore fibroids deeper, looking at causes, symptoms, treatment options, and, of course, whether supplements can help.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids (also known as uterine fibroids) are tumors that grow inside the uterus. For the most part, fibroids are benign and don’t lead to cancer.2
They can be very small or very large, and there is typically more than one fibroid in the uterus at a time.1 Fibroids grow inside the lining of the uterus and can make pregnancy difficult, especially if they grow to be large. Large fibroids may result in a C-section or even preterm delivery.
It’s not exactly known what causes fibroids in the uterus, but hormones (mostly estrogen and progesterone) and genes are thought to be to blame. Women between the ages of 30 and 40 and African American women tend to be more likely to get fibroids.3
Fibroid symptoms can vary from one person to the next. In fact, some women may experience no symptoms at all when they have uterine fibroids. If you’re not so lucky, common symptoms of fibroids include:
- Irregular bleeding
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Longer than usual periods
- Frequent urination
- Pain and cramping in the lower abdomen
- Pressure or fullness in the lower abdomen
- Pain with intercourse1
If you have any of these symptoms, then it may be time to see your healthcare provider for an official diagnosis. Several steps may or may not be necessary before your provider will diagnose you with fibroids. Typical diagnostic tests include a pelvic exam, an ultrasound, hysteroscopy, MRI or CT scans, and laparoscopy.3
Once you’re diagnosed with uterine fibroids, it will be time to come up with a treatment plan. Your treatment may depend on factors like the number of fibroids and your symptoms. And while there are medical treatments available, certain supplements for fibroids may also be an option.
Can supplements help shrink fibroids?
A handful of vitamins and other supplements have been researched regarding their fibroid-shrinking abilities.4
What the research shows so far is that certain supplements may indeed be able to shrink fibroids. And this is great news, as it means that supplements for fibroids may be a useful complementary treatment.
However, supplements shouldn’t be your only treatment plan, nor should they replace standard medical care for symptomatic uterine fibroids. This is especially true if you have severe symptoms like pain, heavy bleeding, and cramping.
To understand how supplements can help shrink fibroids, it’s best to look to the research.
Top supplements for fibroids
Research shows that various nutrients may be helpful complementary treatments for fibroids. While some supplements may relieve symptoms of fibroids, others may reduce their size.
Remember to talk with your healthcare provider before trying any of these or other supplements. Supplements always come with the potential for side effects and are not well-regulated in the US. Your healthcare provider can steer you toward the right supplement for you.
Below is a look at the most promising supplements for fibroids.
1. Vitamin D
Probably the best-studied vitamin for fibroid shrinkage is vitamin D. A deficiency in this fat-soluble vitamin (also known as the “sunshine vitamin”) is thought to be a risk factor for fibroids.5
In one human trial, pre-menopausal women with uterine fibroids were given either vitamin D or a placebo for 10 weeks. At the end of the study, the fibroids of those who had taken vitamin D were significantly smaller compared to the fibroids of those who had taken the placebo.6
What this and other research shows is that supplementing with vitamin D may be a non-invasive way to reduce the size and burden of fibroids.
2. Vitamin A
Vitamin A, another fat-soluble vitamin, may also help shrink fibroids.
Vitamin A is believed to play a part in the development of uterine fibroids. Some research has found that women who consume more vitamin A-rich foods tend to have a reduced risk of fibroids.4
Retinoic acid, a metabolite of vitamin A, is thought to be an important part of cell signaling in the development of fibroids. Some researchers have found that retinoic acid may inhibit cell growth and proliferation in fibroids, making it an important part of fibroid prevention.4
Because high doses of vitamin A may cause health issues including liver damage, a multivitamin that contains vitamin A or low-dose vitamin A may be best.7 You should consult with your healthcare provider before starting a vitamin A supplement.
You may be familiar with resveratrol if you’re a wine drinker. Resveratrol is a polyphenol with antioxidant properties that could be useful in shrinking fibroids.
It’s naturally found in some foods, like peanuts and grapes, and has been researched in laboratory settings for its potential role in the treatment of fibroids. In one such lab study, resveratrol was found to significantly decrease the growth of fibroids in human cell cultures.8
Other lab studies have shown similar results for resveratrol, but human studies have yet to be completed. What this means is that resveratrol has the potential to shrink fibroids, but we can’t be certain until well-designed human trials are performed.
Another polyphenol on the list, curcumin is responsible for the yellow color of turmeric. As a polyphenol, curcumin is believed to have potential fibroid-shrinking properties.
Various human and lab studies have looked at the role of curcumin in fibroid management. Some human studies have found that supplementing with daily curcumin could lead to significant decreases in the overall size and volume of fibroids. And lab studies have shown that curcumin may inhibit cell proliferation in fibroids.9
Probiotics are the good bacteria that keep your gut microbiome balanced and healthy, and they may play a role in fibroid shrinkage.
While researchers are not yet sure how probiotics may reduce fibroids, there is some evidence suggesting that probiotics deserve to be on this list. Dairy products, specifically yogurt, may protect against the development of uterine fibroids. Probiotics are also known to have a positive impact on many inflammatory processes through positive alterations of the gut microflora.10
Hopefully, more research will one day be available on the role of probiotics in fibroids. But until then, probiotic-rich foods (like yogurt, tempeh, miso, and other fermented foods) are always a recommended part of a healthy diet.
6. Green Tea Extract
A natural remedy, green tea extract may be able to not only reduce the size of fibroids but also alleviate symptoms.
A small pilot study compared the effects of a placebo to green tea extract in women with uterine fibroids. Participants took 800 milligrams (mg) of either placebo or green tea extract every day for 4 months. At the end of the study, the women who took green tea extract had significant decreases in the size of their fibroids compared to those in the placebo group.11
Interestingly, those in the green tea group also had significantly improved anemia, a common side effect of fibroids due to increased blood loss.
Other treatments for fibroids
Women with fibroid symptoms may want to seek conventional medical treatment. And while supplements may work as a complementary treatment, they should never replace standard medical care, especially when symptoms are present.
Fortunately, there are many treatment options for uterine fibroids. The right treatment for you may depend on factors like your age, the severity of your symptoms, and the size and number of fibroids you have.1 Your healthcare provider can help you decide on the best treatment for you.
If you have symptom-free fibroids, then you may not require any treatment at all. Fibroid treatments range from medications to surgery. Standard treatment options for uterine fibroids include:
- IUDs (intrauterine devices) or birth control pills
- Iron supplements
- Tranexamic acid
- Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and other pain relievers
- Hormone shots
- Hysteroscopy or myomectomy to remove fibroids from the uterus
- Endometrial ablation to treat heavy bleeding
- Hysterectomy to entirely remove the uterus1
It is recommended that you schedule an exam with your healthcare provider if you experience symptoms of fibroids like heavy bleeding, bleeding between periods, and cramping.
About Brittany Lubeck
Brittany Lubeck is a registered dietitian and nutrition writer. She has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, a Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition, and began her career as a clinical dietitian. Brittany has always enjoyed research and loves that she can help people learn more about nutrition through her writing.
1. “Uterine fibroids.” National Institutes of Health. Medlineplus.gov.
2. “Uterine fibroids.” Office of Women’s Health. Womenshealth.gov.
3. “Uterine Fibroids.” American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Acog.org.
4. Ciebiera, M., M. Ali, et al. “Vitamins and Uterine Fibroids: Current Data on Pathophysiology and Possible Clinical Relevance.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences 15, no. 21 (2020): 5528.
5. Baird, D. D., M. C. Hill, et al. “Vitamin D and Risk of Uterine Fibroids.” Epidemiology 3, no. 24 (2013): 447-453.
6. Hajhashemi, M., M. Ansari, et al. “The effect of vitamin D supplementation on the size of uterine leiomyoma in women with vitamin D deficiency.” Caspian Journal of Internal Medicine 2, no. 10 (2019): 125-131.
7. “Vitamin A and Carotenoids.” National Institutes of Health – Office of Dietary Supplements. Ods.od.nih.gov.
8. Chen, H. Y., P. H. Lin, et al. “Natural Antioxidant Resveratrol Suppresses Uterine Fibroid Cell Growth and Extracellular Matrix Formation In Vitro and In Vivo.” Antioxidants 4, no. 8 (2019): 99.
9. Arip, M., V. L. Yap, et al. “Evidence-Based Management of Uterine Fibroids With Botanical Drugs – A Review.” Frontiers in Pharmacology 13 (2022): 878407.
10. Szydlowska, I., J. Nawrocka-Rutkowska, et al. “Dietary Natural Compounds and Vitamins as Potential Cofactors in Uterine Fibroids Growth and Development.” Nutrients 4, no. 14 (2022): 734.
11. Roshdy, E., V. Rajaratnam, et al. “Treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids with green tea extract: a pilot randomized controlled clinical study.” International Journal of Women’s Health 5 (2013): 477-486.