Author: Houston Fibroids

Inside Kamala Harris’ Fibroid Bill

Just before her big VP news, Kamala Harris introduced a new fibroid bill.  Why? After all these years, we still don’t know why women develop these non-cancerous tumors. Thankfully, the Senator’s bill to fund fibroid research and education will change all that.

Senator Harris told Refinery 29, “Millions of women across the country are affected by uterine fibroids, which can present serious health complications. (These include) maternal mortality and morbidity, an ongoing crisis, especially for Black women.”

And she continued. “We have an opportunity to change that with the Uterine Fibroids Research and Education Act. I’m proud to work with Congresswoman [Yvette] Clarke to ensure that women get the care, support, and knowledge they need.”

The Gap in Fibroid Research  Funding fibroid research to narrow the Black woman's healthcare gap

Here’s the problem. Up to 80% of women develop fibroids before they turn 50. In fact, 26 million women between the ages of 15 and 50 have uterine fibroids now. And more than 15 million have painful fibroid symptoms.

But we still don’t know why. Further complicating the problem? Black women develop fibroids more frequently. But they face a healthcare gap. Doctors often discount or downplay their pain and symptoms.

Fibroids look different in every woman. But common symptoms include pelvic pain and long, heavy periods; You may have constipation and/or frequent urination. Bloating and painful intercourse are also signs of fibroids. In some cases, you may go years without  experiencing symptoms. Other times, your fibroids cause trouble immediately. Again, it’s not clear why some women’s fibroids stay small. But other women’s growths disrupt their lives.

Finding a Way Forward

Representative Clarke says, “This bill is an important first step towards making women’s healthcare a priority. Many women who suffer from uterine fibroids have their condition go undiagnosed as a result of a lack of education about the disease. Each year, approximately 7 million women in the U.S. suffer the symptoms of fibroids … This disease has ravaged the lives of women across the country, and increasing funding for research and public education related to fibroids is critical to reversing that trend. If we are serious about fixing inequities in our healthcare system, then we must treat uterine fibroids with the funding and attention it deserves.”

What’s Included in Senator Harris’ Fibroid Bill Houston Fibroids Specialists support the fibroid bill

To that end, the new bill asks to give the National Institutes of Health (NIH) $30 million each year, for the next five years. The purpose?  To expand uterine fibroids research, create a uterine fibroids public education program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to expand and improve data collection on which groups are affected by uterine fibroids, among other aims.

It directs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to prove information on available services for women who experience fibroid symptoms.

Finally, the bills asks the Health Resources and Service Administration to arm health care providers with  fibroid information. These materials should highlight that women of color have elevated fibroid risks. And should include information on all available treatment options, including minimally invasive protocols like UFE.

The bill is supported by the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the National Association of Nurse Practitioners, the Fibroid Foundation, and many other organizations.

Strong Support for Fibroid Education

While the bill has many supporters, one key group of backers is The White Dress Project. We’ve talked about this organization quite a bit on the blog, because its goals align with our own: to help women understand all their treatment options.

So, today, we thank Senator Harris, Representative Clarke and all the women and organizations who advance fibroid awareness. And we invite you to explore all your fibroid treatment options before settling on an invasive surgery like a hysterectomy.

Sources: Yahoo!Life, Refinery 29

5 Tips to Fight Fibroids (and 4 things to Avoid)

Our Houston fibroid practice can fight fibroids with minimally invasive treatments such as Uterine Fibroid Embolization. And we are proud to offer you relief from painful symptoms like long, heavy periods. But we also know that it takes time to decide how to treat your uterine tumors. And, in the meantime, you may improve your symptoms with easy lifestyle changes.

And here’s a bonus fact: no matter what, these fibroid-fighting tips should boost your general health, too. So you’ll feel better long after you find a lasting solution to these non-cancerous growths.

5 Moves to Fight Fibroids fight fibroids with lifestyle changes

Want to stop fibroids from getting bigger? Or help manage your fibroid symptoms? Try these five lifestyle changes!

1.       Add fruits and veggies to your diet. Studies suggest that fruits such as apples and tomatoes, and  veggies like broccoli and cabbage, could lower your risk of developing fibroids. Already got fibroids? Guess what: a healthier diet, packed with fruits, vegetables and lots of whole-grains  could minimize your symptoms or even prevent fibroid growth.

2.       Watch your blood pressure, since research suggests a link between fibroid growth and elevated blood pressure. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help keep blood pressure under control. But you may also need to see your doctor if lifestyle measures can’t help you maintain a normal blood pressure.

3.       Manage stress. No one knows why some women develop fibroids while others don’t. But some studies suggest your stress levels could impact fibroid development. Focusing on self-care and soothing exercise routines, including yoga and meditation, can help you keep the stress monster off your back.

4.       Take care. Sometimes, just taking a rest in a comfy position can help relieve your fibroid pain. Try propping your legs up with a pillow or pulling your knees into your chest to get pressure off your pelvis and back.

5.       Consider supplements such as Vitamin D, which studies suggest may lower your fibroid risk. You may also find that certain forms of birth control can help relieve fibroid symptoms. But talk to your doctor before adding any new supplement or medication to your routine, especially if you’re already dealing with a pre-existing health condition.

What Not to Do with Fibroids

If you’ve got fibroids already, some lifestyle moves could actually make your symptoms worse. Here’s four things you should NEVER do if you’re living with fibroids:

1.       Eat processed foods, red meat, and high-fat dairy products, as well as caffeine and alcohol. Studies suggest that including these in your diet could make your fibroid symptoms.

2.       Skip workouts. Exercise may feel like its too much when you have fibroid pain. But studies link weekly exercise with lowered fibroid risks. So keep up the sweat, even when you don’t feel like it.

3.       Load up on sugar. Diets high in sugar are linked to increased fibroid risks.

4.       Smoke. While cigarettes are bad for every aspect of your health, it’s also likely to make your period pain worse, since it limits oxygen flow to your pelvic region.

Need more help managing fibroid pain? We’re here for you! Schedule your fibroid consultation today, so our Houston area specialists can help you find a fibroid fighting solution that works for your lifestyle.

Sources: WebMD

Why You Can’t Ignore Pink Vaginal Discharge

For women, vaginal discharge is part of a normal monthly cycle. It changes in amount, color and texture at different times in the month. But when that color changes to pink, it could be a sign of a bigger problem brewing. Keep reading to learn more.

Pink Vaginal Discharge and Your Health

Pink vaginal discharge usually contains trace amounts of blood. And bleeding outside of your period could be a sign of a problem.

If you are experiencing pink discharge, you should see your doctor right away. The color and spotting could mean that you have:

  1. Uterine Fibroids. Pink discharge could indicate that you are spotting (bleeding outside of your period), and fibroids (non-cancerous tumors) are known to cause abnormal bleeding. So if you are regularly seeing pink outside of your period, it is worth discussing a fibroid screening with your OBGYN.
  2. Uterine Polyps. Like fibroids, polyps are non-cancerous growths. But while fibroids develop in or on your uterus, polyps develop in endometrial tissue before extending into the uterus. If pink discharge comes after sex, it could be a sign you have polyps, since intercourse can bump these growths, causing some blood to mingle with your discharge.
  3.  Ovarian cysts. These are fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries. When they resolve on their own, cysts don’t typically cause symptoms. But when they keep growing and become large, they may cause abnormal bleeding–and pink discharge!
  4. Infections. Pink discharge could also be a sign of an infection in your vagina. Potential causes could be an STI (sexually transmitted infection) or vaginitis.
  5.  Pregnancy, including ectopic. When a fertilized egg implants itself in your uterine wall, you may bleed a little, causing pink discharge. But when that egg implants outside your uterus, in your fallopian tubes, pink discharge will also likely appear, along with other symptoms like sharp pain, dizziness, weakness and even fainting.

Because pink discharge could indicate so many different conditions, it’s important to bring up this change with your doctor. The only way to know the cause is to investigate with your medical care provider.

What about Pink Menstrual Blood? pink period flow isn't always typical

Sometimes, pink discharge isn’t a between-periods problem. At certain points during your period, your flow may become thin, light and pale pink instead of red in color. Often, this is a normal development. Your flow tends to be lighter at the end of your period. And many women experience a light, pale flow in the first day of their periods, too.

Other times, however, this change in color could mean you have a health problem. If you have low estrogen levels, your period flow may appear more pink than red. Or, if it’s just a lighter red, almost diluted, it could be a sign of anemia. And, since anemia is a common side effect of fibroids, this should be a sign it’s time to see your gynecologist.

Now, we know that some of these changes in your discharge or flow may be subtle. So we don’t want you to spend your time analyzing your personal rainbow of colors. Instead, try this advice as a guideline. Pay attention to your body’s personal ‘normal.’ Then, if you notice a change that seems out of the ordinary, bring it up with your doctor at your next check up, just to rule out problems. Just remember: if any of these changes cause you severe pain, or interfere with your daily life, don’t wait around for your next annual visit. Instead, schedule an appointment with your Houston fibroid specialists right away: you should never wait around for help!

 

Sources: Medical News Today, yourtango.com, Baby Gaga

Here’s Why it’s Crucial to Stay Active on your Period

During your period, staying active may seem less inviting, especially if you’re dealing with cramps or a heavy flow. In fact, according to a Strava and FitWoman survey, 69% of women change their workout routines during their period. But did you know that getting exercise can help you find some temporary relief?

We get that a heavy flow can be challenging when you exercise. After all, the last thing you want is to spot a leak mid-workout. Still, we’d hate for your period to control your life. So check out our suggestions for staying active: all month long.

Avoiding Period Mishaps During Exercise exercise during your period

Keep in mind, an extremely heavy flow could be a sign of a problem. In fact, long heavy periods are common when you have fibroids. Now, the only way to stop fibroid symptoms is to actively treat your fibroids. Still, while you’re researching treatment options, exercise can help alleviate some of your monthly discomfort.

In order to avoid embarrassment while staying active, consider the following suggestions:

1.       Wear darker workout clothes, so any leaks will be less obvious. While we’re all about the white dress project, we also support practicality.

2.       You may need to double up on protection: consider a tampon and panty-liner combination.

3.       Think about shorter workouts, or staying close to home, so you can refresh your feminine products right after your exercise is complete.

So, these tips can help you stay active in the short term. And that’s important, as we’re about to reveal the benefits of exercising during your period. But we can’t emphasize enough that, in the long-term, you’ll feel more free to live your life if you find a lasting cure to your fibroid symptoms.

Exercise and Menstrual Symptoms

Have you ever experienced that runners high? Or walked away from a sweaty workout with a huge grin? As it turns out, there’s a scientific explanation for this phenomenon. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins, chemicals that target pain and boost your mood.  For that reason, taking a brisk walk or jog could offer period pain relief that’s superior to over the counter meds.

Want the biggest endorphin rush? Choose cardio-based workouts like swimming, biking, running or even walking. Not your jam? No problem! Other forms of exercise, especially workouts like yoga that help calm your spirit, are also very effective.

Just keep in mind, you should always consult your healthcare provider before starting a new workout routine. This is especially true if you have fibroids and anemia, a common side effect of prolonged heavy periods. And remember, if you have fibroids, high intensity workouts during your period could be painful. That’s because HIIT workouts direct blood flow to your vital organs. But that means your fibroids have a lower supply of blood, at least temporarily. Which could translate to increased pain while you’re getting your sweat on.

What’s the Best Protection for Women with Heavy An IUD or birth control can help with heavy periodsFlows?

We all know that heavy flow tampons and pads can fail. On your heaviest flow days, you may go through a super tampon as quickly as an hour. And that’s a major pain, especially when you want to stick to your regular exercise routines. Ready for something different? You may want to explore the menstrual cup, a relatively new product that come in different sizes, offering customized protection. When your period is average, they last for up to 12 hours (a typical cup holds about 20ml.) Naturally, if your flow if heavier, you’ll need more frequent cup changes.

How Can You Tell if Your Flow is a Problem?

When it comes to menstrual cycles, every woman is different. What’s normal for your sister may seem heavy to you. So, we’ve developed a few guidelines to help women identify problematic period symptoms.

First and foremost, if your period gets in the way of your lifestyle, that’s no good. Especially if your flow prevents you from healthy activities like exercise. So, if your monthly cycles keeps you stuck to your couch or tied to a nearby bathroom, we invite you to schedule a fibroid consultation with one of our Houston-area specialists.

And, even if your period isn’t interfering with your daily life, take note of major changes in your cycle. If your period suddenly becomes longer, heavier or more painful, this could indicate a problem like fibroids. We always recommend addressing fibroids early on. Why? Untreated fibroids can keep growing. Which is a problem, since larger fibroids can be harder to address.

At the end of the day, we want you to live your best life. And that means getting active when you want, without fearing major period problems. So if fibroids are getting in the way of your every day, it’s time to explore your treatment options. Just be sure to do your research, and explore minimally invasive treatments like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE.) Remember, not every woman with fibroids will need to have surgery!

Sources: Live StrongUSA Fibroid Centers

#WCW: Black Women and Fibroids

As Houston fibroid specialists, we want to help women understand their fibroid risk. And we like to celebrate women who share their fibroid journeys. Like Augusta, Georgia News 12 anchor Monique Williams, who missed lots of air time because of fibroid pain. At first, Williams kept quiet about her struggle. Soon, however, she gave her viewers and explanation. In fact, she revealed her struggle with fibroids.

Now, some of what she scares is scary. Like Monique, eight out of every 10 black women develop uterine fibroid tumors. In Ms. William’s case, her fibroids got very large. This eliminated many of her treatment options. So Ms. Williams ultimately had a complete hysterectomy due to the solid, sheer mass of the tumors.

The TV anchor’s struggle left her entire news team wondering: why do African American women have such a high risk of developing fibroids?

Black Women and Fibroids

Black women are three times more likely to develop fibroids than women of any other race. And we don’t know why! What we do know is your fibroid risk is related to family history . Like Monique Williams, her mother also ended up getting a hysterectomy in order to put an end to her fibroid pain. In addition to a genetic predisposition, potential exposure to the chemicals in hair relaxing products and an earlier onset of menstruation may all increase a woman’s risk of developing fibroids. While there is no way to prevent fibroids from first developing, high-risk women can and should take certain precautions.

What’s Your Fibroid Risk?

First and foremost, women with a high likelihood of developing fibroids should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of these tumors (major red flags include heavy menstrual bleeding, abdominal pain and bloating and anemia); black women should ask their OBGYNs for regular screenings. Visits to the doctor should be annual.

Since both a diet high in carbohydrates and increased body weight both elevate fibroid risks, it’s also important for women to get regular exercise and choose lean proteins, fruits and veggies over bread, pasta and other grains.

For Ms. Williams, who has now returned to her news desk, sharing her story was all about helping other women know their options. While a hysterectomy was her choice, she made sure to share information on fertility-preserving treatment options like myomectomy (surgical removal of individual tumors) or tumor-shrinking, non surgical procedures like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE.) As a news anchor, Monique lives to inform others, and because she turned her personal struggle into a teaching moment for all other women, we salute her as our Woman Crush of the week!

Sources: WRDW News 12

What’s the Danger in Heavy Periods?

Do heavy periods control your life? When it’s that time of the month, do you wonder how long you’ll be out of the house without access to a bathroom? Or worse, do you need to double up protection, using a backup pad for your tampon, so you don’t leak?

Yes, these considerations are all hassles. Heavy periods are annoying. They can get in the way of your daily activities. But did you know that abnormally heavy menstrual cycles can lead to more serious medical problems?

Why Heavy Bleeding is Dangerous

One potential side-effect of abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) is anemia, when you don’t have enough red blood cells in your blood. If you have untreated anemia, you can even suffer organ damage!

But how do you know if your bleeding is unusually heavy? For our purposes, you should talk to your doctor if you have to change your tampon or pad every hour. Or if you have symptoms like heavy overnight bleeding that stains your bedding. During a normal period, for comparisons, you can expect to change your tampon or pad every three hours. And some women may even go longer, especially towards the end of the cycle.

Causes of Heavy Bleeding

Long, heavy periods are a symptom of fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that grow in or around your uterus. But a heavy menstrual cycle could also be a sign of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS), a condition that can also lead to varicose veins in your upper thighs or lower abdomen. With both PCS and fibroids, you’ll also have other shared symptoms. These include pelvic pain, pain after sex, constipation and painful period cramps. But with PCS, unlike fibroids, your pain is often worse at the end of the day, or after standing for a long time. And your risk for PCS goes up if you’ve had a baby, since giving birth puts pressure on your pelvic blood vessels.

Because heavy periods could be a sign of either of these conditions, it’s important to discuss all your symptoms with your doctor. Together, you can discover the cause of your AUB. And determine the best possible treatment plan.

Treating Heavy Bleeding

When AUB occurs for no apparent reason, certain types of birth control, like the Mirena IUD or the Nuva Ring, can help staunch the blood flow.Oral contraception and NSAIDs like ibuprofen may also help.

If, however, AUB is a symptom of a different, underlying condition, relief will only come from treating the cause of the bleeding. Many women who experience abnormally heavy periods may actually have one or more fibroids (a fibroid is a non-cancerous growth that develops in a woman’s uterus, often causing AUB and other symptoms or side effects.)

The most important thing to remember is this. AUB is not a cause for embarrassment, but it something worth discussing with your doctor. Not only will starting the conversation simplify your daily period routines, it may also help you stave off dangerous blood loss and far more serious complications.

Sources: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 

What Black Women Need to Know About Risk and Fibroid Treatments

Up to 80 percent of adult black women have fibroids and will need to explore fibroid treatments. These muscular growths aren’t usually cancerous. But they can drastically affect your quality of life. In fact, women with fibroids experience pain, heavy bleeding and even fertility loss. Here’s the worst part: many women, especially black women, don’t have access to quality healthcare. So they never explore their fibroid treatment options. For that reason, many women choose hysterectomy (removing their uterus) when they could have explored less invasive treatments. And we believe that has to change.

Fibroids: A Common Problem

Let’s really understand uterine fibroids. These fleshy, non-cancerous tumors develop in, on or around your uterus. And, we don’t know why, but fibroids are three times as common in African American populations as in Caucasian ones.

This is true for all black women. But it’s an even bigger problem for African American women with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD.) In fact, a recent study in Academic Radiology found that 61.2% of black women with SCD had fibroids. In contrast, a lower 52.1% of the SCD-free black women had fibroids. In other words, fibroids are a major problem in the African American community. And so is the lack of information about fibroid treatment options.

 

Exploring Fibroid Treatments

Unfortunately, many black women often cure fibroids with hysterectomies. Now, a hysterectomy will eliminate your fibroid problems. But it can cause a whole range of new health concerns. Not just immediate infertility. Studies show that hysterectomies, especially in women under 40, can lead to incontinence, loss of sex drive, depression, obesity and heart problems.

That’s pretty scary on it’s own. But here’s what’s worse: hysterectomy isn’t your only choice when it comes to fibroid symptom relief. You can choose myomectomy, a surgery that remove your fibroids, not your uterus. And, even more excitingly, there are non-surgical procedures like UFE! In this procedure, we cut off blood flow to your fibroids. We effectively killing the tumor, without forcing you to deal with hospital stays or extended down time. UFE may be a great option if you hope to avoid the expense and risks of invasive surgery. The only problem is this: many women don’t even know UFE exits.

Expanding Fibroid Treatment Options

That’s where health care activism has to step in and make a difference. We see exciting developments in government already. And say thank you to Senator Kamala Harris for introducing a bill to expand fibroid research. Our doctors strongly believe that investing in women’s health care is a great way to help achieve healthcare equality for all women.

But we also know that there’s more work to do. That’s why our doctors are joining the cause. We’re fighting to help all women access high-quality health care by spreading the word about UFE. Women should be armed with information about all available treatment options. It’s the only way they can make informed healthcare decisions. About fibroid treatment or any other health challenge. Now, we want your help in our mission. Sp please share your fibroid stories (and info on alternatives to hysterectomy) on our website or social media. Use the hashtag  #FibroidFix and help us get women’s health care issue trending!

Sources: Journal of Academic Radiology

Surgery or UFE: Differences in Fertility & Quality of Life

When choosing fibroid treatments, your two main choices will be surgery or UFE. Fibroid tumors are non-cancerous growths that develop in and on a woman’s uterus. While not a life threatening condition, because of their location, they can cause many negative symptoms, including problems with fertility, menstruation, and your bowel and bladder function.

Hysterectomy procedure

Some women have a higher risk for developing fibroids. While we don’t know why these tumors form, we do know that certain factors are connected. That means if you have a family history, or are an African American women, you are more likely to develop fibroids in the future.

If your fibroid risk is high, now’s the time to think about your fertility. Women with fibroids who want to have children are often pushed into surgery treatment. Previously, we thought myomectomy, surgical fibroid removal, was a woman’s best option if she wanted to get pregnant. Now, research suggests that isn’t the case.

Quality of Life with Fibroid Treatments

There’s a new FEMME study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, comparing myomectomy and UFE outcomes. Specifically, the study examines how each fibroid treatment affects your post-procedure quality of life. And the outcomes were very interesting.

After treating fibroids with surgery or UFE, each group of women rated their quality of life. Both groups of women reported significant improvements. And there was only an eight point difference between the two groups’ reported improvements. That difference is small enough to be considered statistically insignificant. Or, to put it simply, myomectomy and UFE provides almost identical improvements in your daily life. But their post-treatment recovery process is different: UFE has almost no down time. While myomectomy is still an invasive surgery, which may require a hospital stay.

Given these differences, the FEMME study should offer proof that you should explore UFE if you’re considering myomectomy. Since the two fibroid treatments offer similar benefits, and UFE comes with an easier recovery. Now, it’s important to remember that the FEMME study didn’t address fertility outcomes with either of these fibroid treatment options. So we’ll turn to that data in the next sections of this post.

Myomectomies Don’t Improve Fertility

Check this out. A study examining “the effect of myomectomy on fertility[discovered] no significant benefit,” according to a review in the Cochrane journal. In other words, even if you have surgery to remove your fibroid tumors, your chances of getting or staying pregnant may not improve.

Of course, this is just one study. We need more research to really prove the effect of fibroid surgery on fertility. It does, however, mean that women should carefully consider all their treatment options before rushing into surgery just to preserve their fertility dreams.

UFE and Pregnancy Fibroids can impact your fetal development

Patients with fibroids  who hope to get pregnant may also consider uterine fibroid embolization, a minimally invasive procedure that effectively kills fibroids by cutting off their blood supply. Many patients wishing to avoid myomectomy want to know if they can become pregnant after uterine fibroid embolization. There have been reports of many successful pregnancies in patients after UFE. Many studies show that fertility rates and miscarriage rates in UFE patients are no different than patients of the same age with fibroids who have had no treatment. But, if you are willing to have surgery, and you’re healthy enough for a myomectomy, discuss the advantages with your provider.

Early studies suggested a slight increase in pregnancy complications after UFE vs myomectomy. But newer science suggests that tweaks to the UFE process improved fertility and pregnancy outcomes. These pregnancy complications can include pre-term labor and pregnancy induced hypertension, also known as pre eclampsia. UFE can still help patients who aren’t good candidates for surgery. All this will be especially true if it turns out that myomectomy really can’t improve your fertility.

Sources: New England Journal of Medicine, Canadian Family Physician journal, European Radiology Journal

Why We’ve Got a Fibroid Treatment Crisis

So many women are affected by fibroids, and we are lucky to have many fibroid treatment options. But here’s a scary fact about fibroids: Most women develop fibroids by the time they are 50.  But about 57% of women don’t know they are at risk! Worse, 44% of women with fibroids aren’t told about all of their treatment options, and a shocking 11% of women think hysterectomies are the only way to treat fibroids!

Unfortunately, the news keeps getting worse. In another recent survey of women age 16 to 64, 64% of those women said they’d immediately schedule whatever procedure their doctor recommended. And, in most cases, stated that was a hysterectomy. Sadly, just 23% of the women said they’d get a second opinion, or research less invasive fibroid treatments.

Sharing Fibroid Treatment Information

Because so many women don’t know their fibroid treatment options, we’re taking part in the #FibroidFix project. Launched by the Society of Interventional Radiology, the goal is to help women learn about UFE. This is a non-invasive treatment option for uterine fibroids. Unlike many other treatment options, UFE is not a surgery. Treatment is delivered through an artery in your left wrist. Using specialized X-Ray equipment, your doctor injects small spheres through a catheter and into the blood flow that supplys your growing fibroids. The spheres, also known as embolic material, are designed to block the vessels around a fibroid, cutting off its oxygen and blood supply so that it starts to shrink. The embolic material remains permanently in place, so that the fibroid can’t start to grow again. news & events

Unlike a hysterectomy or other fibroid treatments, UFE is minimally invasive. The procedure usually lasts about one hour, and most patients can stand and walk immediately afterwards. Though usually performed in a hospital, UFE is typically an outpatient procedure.

Closing the Fibroid Information Gap

Despite all these obvious benefits, many gynecologists aren’t telling women that UFE is an option when it comes to discussing fibroid treatments. In fact, 77% of women who know about UFE didn’t first learn about it from their gynocologists!

As physicians trained to perform UFE, Dr. Hardee and Dr. Fox think this lack of information is a major problem. In our practice, we think that women deserve to know all their options…and they also have the right to protect their fertility and avoid hysterectomies whenever possible! If you agree that fibroid patients deserve better information, join us in taking a stand! Spread the word about UFE and let’s get #FibroidFix trending on Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else you share the latest happenings!

Sources:  Society of Interventional Radiology, USA Fibroid Women Health Survey

How to Plan Around Your Period (Or Stop Needing to)

When you’re living with fibroids, your painful cycle means you may plan around your period. That’s because those periods may be long and heavy. And really, really painful. In fact, periods can be so disruptive when you have fibroids that you might have no choice about planning your life around your monthly cycle.

Many women already do that, but for the wrong reasons. According to a Dutch study, periods make almost 14 percent of surveyed women miss work or school. And 80% of the women who show up on their period reported  losing productivity because of the pain.

What did those painful periods amount to? Women lose about nine days a year because of their cycles, according to the study authors. Even worse? There’s a lot of shame about these symptoms. In this study, only 20 percent of women were able to tell their bosses or teachers that period pain was to blame for their sick days.

Now, our Houston fibroid specialists provide minimally invasive treatments so you don’t have to live your life around your period. But we did want to share one woman’s theories about planning your activities around your period, so you can see what that looks like. Check out what she had to say.

Should You Plan around your Period?

Recently, Mayella Almazan, a menstrual health educator in Northern Ireland, told the Daily Mail why women should plan around their periods. Her theory is that, if you really understand your monthly cycle and plan around it, you can reach your full potential.

And she divides each month into four distinct phases: menstruation, pre-ovulation, ovulation and pre-menstruation. Depending on the length of your cycle, she says, each phase should last between three and seven days. Of course, if fibroids have made your period longer, this would affect the length of each of these ‘phases.’

Still, it’s not the length of each phase that’s important, according to Almazan. What really matters, she says, is what you’re up for in each phase of the month. As Almazan explains, “So many women don’t understand their bodies and it’s such a shame. Most of us expect to feel tired or fragile on our periods, and we know about PMS, but that’s where it ends. Instead of seeing our periods as a barrier to our success, I’d love to see more women feeling empowered to use their monthly fluctuations to their advantage.”

Apparently, Almazan practices what she preaches. She says, “I organize my life around my menstrual cycle and it really works. I know when to take on a new project and push myself, and when to give myself a break…create a monthly chart and pin it to the wall. That way everyone [will know] what to expect!’

Almazan’s Four Distinct Menstrual Phases

These are the four distinct phases of your monthly cycle, as Almazan sees them:

DAYS 1-7: MENSTRUATION

Your cycle starts on the first day of your period, and typically lasts around seven days.  During this time, your estrogen and progesterone levels are low. During this time, many women have cramps, back aches, headaches or even nausea. Sometimes, your energy levels drop during your period. And for women with fibroids, these symptoms are likely to be worse.

Female with Fibroids

During this phase, Almazan says: “Day one or two of your period will be your lowest physically energetic days of the month, so give yourself a break and don’t feel guilty… You need lots of rest and self-care. But it can be active rest; it’s a great time for quiet reflection. You could bring those reports home from work to read, do some brainstorming and prepare for the month ahead so that when you enter the next phase, which is very productive, you’re all set to make the most of it. It could also be an opportunity to enjoy quality downtime with your family; snuggled up on the sofa reading or watching movies with your partner and kids. Go easy on yourself wherever possible.”

DAYS 7-14: PRE-OVULATION

During this phase, you’ve finished your period; your estrogen and testosterone levels are rising as your body prepares to release an egg. During this phase, many women feel a burst of energy.

That’s why, Almazan suggests, “This is the time of the month to go for it! If you’re an athlete, you will be at your peak…It’s certainly the time to begin or step up a training regime though. The number one issue women who come to me complaining of is exhaustion, so I tell them to make the most of this pre-ovulation time. If you can control your diary, this is the time to schedule your busiest or most demanding days. Your mental focus and analytical skills will be strong. It’s also the time you’ll be feeling most capable; so tackle things you find difficult now.”

DAYS 14-21: OVULATION

When you release your egg (ovulate) your discharge may look different and you may have pain in your side. Your estrogen and testosterone levels will reach their peak. Your Luteinizing Hormone (LH) will suddenly surge, triggering ovulation. And, immediately afterwards, your estrogen starts dropping as your progesterone rises. Your energy may wane again, and you may experience breakouts and breast tenderness.

Almazan says, “This is the time to do teambuilding or networking exercises at work, hold mentoring sessions or take a more listening, supportive role. ‘You may find you have a softer, warmer approach during this time, so it could be a great opportunity to try to solve problems and solve conflicts. It’s also a great time to socialize and cook for friends. If you have a partner, schedule a date night or two. If you’re single, socialize and strengthen your connections with friends.”

DAYS 21-28: PRE-MENSTRUAL woman in pain from fibroids

During this phase, your progesterone levels hit their highest point before dropping. Your estrogen will briefly rise, then drop again. It is this hormonal imbalance that can cause premenstrual symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, bloating, depression and mood swings.

Says Almazan: ‘We all know the negatives associated with PMS, but don’t write off this time completely. As your body prepares to shed the uterus lining, you may also find your observation skills are heightened and perceptions are more acute. ‘You can utilize these skills at work; now might be a great time to tackle the reading of a tricky report or something that requires discerning skills. Or at home you could make a list of things you would like to throw out or change. If you find yourself getting emotional, angry or frustrated, don’t dismiss these feelings. Pay attention to your thoughts and write down things that are upsetting you. Once you’re feeling calmer these journals can offer real insight. Some of your thoughts and feelings may have been overreactions, but others could be really useful, so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. You can use your down time during your period to take stock of any issues thrown up during this pre-menstrual period and think of ways to tackle them. Then you’re ready to begin the cycle again.”

While this is an interesting approach to your typical menstrual cycle, there’s one thing you shouldn’t have to do: stay home during your period because you’re in too much pain to go out. If that’s what planning around your period looks like for you, it’s time to consider treating your fibroids.

Sources: BMJ Journals, The Daily Mail

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