Common and usually benign, uterine fibroids can wreak havoc on your comfort and, sometimes, your health. They're a combination of muscle cells and other tissue and grow around the uterus. The tumors themselves aren't harmful, but can grow large -- from the size of a pea to a melon -- and make life seriously uncomfortable. In some cases, the complications they cause can negatively affect a woman's ability to get pregnant or the course of her pregnancy.
Your doctor will help you determine the best course of action to deal with your fibroids. You can certainly use exercise to help you lose weight and flatten your stomach if your fibroids are small and not causing bloating, stomach swelling or weight gain. But if you have particularly large fibroids, they cannot be shrunk with exercise.
Exercise helps alleviate symptoms associated with fibroids, such as lower abdominal pain and cramping during periods.
Fibroids are a fact of life for many women, with 1 in 5 women experiencing them in their childbearing years and 50 percent by age 50, according to Medline Plus. Hormones and genes likely determine whether you'll get them.
Many women experience no symptoms, while others suffer considerably with heavy periods, cramping, pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, weight gain, frequent urination and extra long cycles.
You can't use exercise to shrink a belly that has a uterus bloated with large fibroids. If that's the cause of your swollen tum, only a doctor's intervention can help.
Microscopic fibroids won't stop you from losing weight, however. If your stomach is large because of excessive weight resulting from an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle, you can certainly lose fat and tone your tummy with exercise.
To reach this goal:
- Do 250 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio every week to lose significant weight says the American College of Sports Medicine;
- Perform resistance-training exercise for every major muscle group — using a weight that feels heavy by the last couple of efforts — for eight to 12 repetitions twice per week;
- Do ab-specific exercises, such as crunches and twists, to build abdominal muscles so you'll reveal definition when you drop pounds;
- Eat a portion-controlled, mostly whole foods diet that contains lean protein, fresh vegetables, healthy unsaturated fats and occasional whole grains and fruits.
Exercise can also be helpful in relieving symptoms related to fibroids, along with diet and possible iron supplements and medication. Again, only your doctor can help you with knowing when such treatments may help.