Author: Houston Fibroids

Finally: Dangerous Birth Control is Taken Off the Market

Essure, a permanent birth control device that was known to cause uterine and fallopian tube fibroids, is finally off the market! Manufactured by Bayer, Essure was a nickel and polyester coil that could be inserted into a woman’s fallopian tubes. Scar tissue would form over the metal coils, causing a permanent blockage of the woman’s uterus and making pregnancy impossible. 

Although Essure got FDA approval in 2002, its use has been very controversial. Over the past few years, women implanted with the device have been reporting a number of devastating side effects–in addition to cysts and fibroids, many patients experienced gastrointestinal, neurological, mental health and blood health complications after being implanted with Essure. In fact, between the time Essure was approved and the year 2017, over 26,000 filed Essure complaints with the FDA. 

In Denial

In spite of all these complaints, Bayer won’t admit that Essure was either unsafe or ineffective. Even as they pulled Essure off the U.S. market last month, the company insisted that their decision was because of declining sales, not due to any major health concerns. Bayer even complained that “inaccurate and misleading” information about Essure had contributed to the sales drop! 

Even though Essure is no longer available in the U.S., Bayer will likely be dealing with the effects of this device for a long time. Thousands of women have sued Bayer for the devastating Essure side-effects they’ve experienced. Bayer’s response? The company says it “remains strongly committed to women’s health where we have long been a leader. We recognize that women want safe and effective options that best meet their individual needs, and we are committed to continuing our investment, innovation and leadership in this important area of health.” Bayer also plans to enroll women in post-market surveillance programs, and has said it will keep updating the FDA with any relevant health findings from the study. 

#WCW: Gabrielle Union, Fertility Warrior!

Welcome back to Woman Crush Wednesday! This week we’re celebrating Gabrielle Union, who’s opening up about adenomyosis, a condition that threatens the fertility of many women around the world.  

Gabrielle’s journey began when she and husband Dwayne Wade (of the NBA’s Miami Heat) decided to start a family. Unable to conceive on their own, Gabrielle says she turned to many unsuccessful rounds of IVF to try and become pregnant. Instead of getting support from her doctors, however, the star says she was basically blamed for her own infertility: “Everyone had just sort of chalked it up to ‘You’re a career woman, you’ve prioritized your career, you waited too long and now you’re just too old to have a kid,'” she said. “And that’s on you for wanting a career.”

Fortunately, Gabrielle did not stop looking for answers and, soon enough, she and her doctors discovered the truth: she had adenomyosis, a type of endometriosis that can cause infertility. 

According to Gabrielle, who now wants to raise infertility awareness among women of all ages, she’s had the condition since she was in her 20s. Adenomyosis occurs when uterine lining tissue is found in the muscle layers surrounding the uterus. It is sometimes hard to diagnose because the misplaced tissue acts like other uterine tissue, shedding itself at the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Many women have no symptoms, though some experience cramping, pelvic pain and unusual spotting. 

Any woman who has had uterine surgery, including fibroid removals and/or a cesarean section, is at risk for developing adenomyosis; women between the ages of 40 and 50 make up 80 percent of diagnosed cases, so age also appears to be a risk factor. 

Complications like Gabrielle Union’s are just one reason our doctors encourage early, non-invasive treatment options for uterine fibroids. After all, as Ms. Union is now telling fans as she relates her story of struggle, “Fertility is not an older women issue, it is an issue period.”

Why Fibroid Patients Don’t Need Hysterectomies

When it comes to fibroid symptoms like heavy bleeding, different doctors offer different treatments, but many opt for surgical removal or even hysterectomy (the complete removal of a woman’s uterus.) Since 1995, however, a different option has been available: like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee at Houston Fibroids, doctors can now treat fibroids with embolization, a process that cuts off blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink without invasive surgery.  

While there have been debates about each option, a new study from Denmark has now proved that patients have better long-term outcomes after embolization! 

Concrete Proof
Known as the EMMY study, this Dutch trial followed 156 women for 10 years after they were treated for uterine fibroids. All of the women had symptoms that made them eligible for hysterectomies. Of these women, 81 were treated with embolization and 75 had hysterectomies. Ten years after their procedures, researchers questioned the women on their quality of life and came up with very interesting findings: of the women who had embolization, only 28 needed a hysterectomy. The remaining 53 women who avoided hysterectomies reported similar health satisfaction to those 75 women who were given immediate hysterectomies. In short, the results prove that hysterectomies typically don’y need to be the first plan of attack in a fibroid treatment plan. As study leader Jim Reekers says, “Uterine artery embolization is a well-documented and good alternative to hysterectomy for symptomatic uterine fibroids, on which all eligible patients should be counseled.” 

Find Out More
As this study shows, hysterectomy is often avoidable when it comes to treating fibroids. Even in women who eventually will require a hysterectomy, embolization treatments can delay the need for major surgery and, of course, the onset of menopause that comes with a hysterectomy. When it comes to your health, knowledge is power. Before undergoing a life-altering hysterectomy procedure, or any kind of invasive fibroid treatment plan, schedule a consultation with our office team to discuss your eligibility for UFE, our highly effective, minimally invasive fibroid treatment option. 

Scary Warning: This Fibroid Treatment May Spread Cancer!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a new warning for women with fibroids: a common fibroid treatment may actually be spreading cancer cells in women’s bodies! 

Many women with fibroids choose to have them removed by a morcellator, a machine that shreds the benign tumors inside the uterus. Some doctors like this treatment option because it is relatively non-invasive, leaves women with smaller scars, and results in almost no down time. Unfortunately, it has no become clear that this supposedly non-invasive treatment option could actually act as a silent killer! 

Spreading Danger

While fibroids are non-cancerous tumors, the FDA reports that 1 in 350 women who are undergoing fibroid removal treatments are also suffering from undetected cancer! For those women who have cancer cells at the time of their treatment, the morcellator actually makes their cases worse in two ways: 1. By leaving behind the shredded, cancerous cells and 2. By spreading those cells around to a larger area of the uterus and, in some case, to other parts of the body entirely! 

As any woman with fibroids can appreciate, minimally invasive treatments are ideal, but not at the expense of overall health! In our Houston Fibroids practice, Drs. Fox and Hardee offer a different kind of procedure: a truly non invasive treatment that doesn’t put other areas of your health at risk! 

A Better Choice

Known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), treatment is administered through an artery in your left wrist. Using special X-ray equipment,  a catheter (small tube) goes through the femoral artery and into the uterine artery, near your fibroid tumors. When it reaches the right spot, the doctors simply inject small spheres  through the catheter and into the blood flow leading to the uterine fibroid tumors. Next, those small spheres (embolic materials) block the vessels around the fibroid, cutting off the blood and oxygen it needs to grow. This blockage makes fibroids shrink, and the spheres stay in your blood vessels permanently so the fibroids don’t grow back!

Not only is this procedure fairly quick and easy (you can sit up and walk almost immediately after treatment) it is also a much safer option. UFE patients avoid surgery, general anesthesia, and. most importantly, the risk of spreading dangerous cancer cells throughout their bodies!

While UFE is not for everyone, it is a great choice for those who qualify. If you are interested in learning more, please schedule an in office consultation with our team

#WCW: Tanika Gray Valburn

It’s #WomanCrushWednesday, and we just had to kick off our series by honoring fibroids warrior Tamika Gray Valburn, founder of The White Dress Project. For years, Tanika suffered from fibroids, having been diagnosed in her teens and having seen her mom lose two sets of twins due to her own fibroids! Eventually, Tanika had to have a myomectomy, surgically removing 27 fibroids from her uterus. 

After her recovery, Tanika wanted to help other women. In 2014, Tanika convinced a Georgia state representative to officially declare July as Fibroid Awareness Month, helping women get the crucial health information they need.

But she didn’t stop there. While thinking about her experiences, Tanika realized that she’d never bought white clothing. She said, “I hadn’t been able to wear white” because of her fibroid symptoms, which included very heavy bleeding. “Something like that seems so trivial, but for me it was another reminder that I had the mental anxiety of not being able to participate in things.” 

The White Dress Project
That same year, Tanika founded the White Dress Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting fibroids awareness, supporting research, and bringing together a community of women who work to empower one another.  The white dress became their symbol, as it signified a milestone in Tanika’s recovery – the moment she could rock a white dress without any fear. Now, the white dress has become a symbol of strength and power to other women dealing with fibroids, becoming one step in the fight to take control of their menstrual health issues.

As doctors involved in the daily battle against fibroids, we salute Tanika, our forever #WCW. We invite all women who are dealing with fibroids to slip on their white dresses and take control of their health by learning more about UFE, a minimally invasive treatment for fibroids!

TV Star Faces Fibroid Surgery after Delayed Intervention

An Indian TV host is sharing her story after delaying fibroid treatments forced her to have invasive surgery. According to Fatma Mohammed, two years ago, troubling symptoms sent her to the doctor, where she was diagnosed with uterine fibroids. At the time, she says, only five fibroids were detected. Myths about uterine fibroids

Unfortunately, Mohammed did not seek immediate treatment. By the time she was ready for help, the first five fibroids had grown bigger. Additionally, 21 new fibroids had developed. At that point, Mohammed’s physicians opted to surgically remove the fibroids. Following her recovery from major surgery, Mohammed decided to publicize her outcome so that other women could avoid similar situations. “I was informed that if only I had sought treatment when the five were first detected then I would not have gone under the knife,” she says. “Laparoscopy (a surgical procedure in which a fiber-optic instrument is inserted through the abdominal wall) would have removed them.”

We are so grateful that Fatma is telling her story, but we’re also terribly sad. It’s true that early treatment is crucial for fibroids, but it’s also true that laparoscopic surgery is still surgery.

In our Houston Fibroids practice, we offer women a non-surgical, out-patient treatment option known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). It’s delivered through an artery in the left wrist, so patients can sit up and walk out of the office right after  the procedure! While not every patient is a candidate, many can benefit from UFE. You don’t have to have radical procedures like surgical fibroid removal or a hysterectomy.

If you have been diagnosed with fibroids and are currently considering treatment options,  schedule a consultation with our doctors. Our team of experts can help you determine how UFE can help you start feeling like yourself again.

How Can UAE Help Adenomyosis

Adenomyosis is a benign, non-life threatening condition, but if you suffer with its painful effects, all you want is relief. Unfortunately it can be confused with uterine fibroids and other conditions, so it can be difficult to diagnose without proper medical attention. 

One of the newer treatments for Adenomyosis is UAE, or Uterine Artery Embolization. How does its effectiveness stack up against other treatments?

Continue reading “How Can UAE Help Adenomyosis”