Author: Houston Fibroids

Know Your 6 Fibroid Treatment Options

If you have uterine fibroids, it’s important to know your fibroid treatment options. Until recently, most women didn’t hear about choices. Instead, they were given hysterectomy or other surgeries to treat fibroids and other causes of pelvic pain. But now we know there are better alternatives to a hysterectomy. Which is why we want women  to know all their fibroid treatment options.

Continue reading “Know Your 6 Fibroid Treatment Options”

Fibroids after Menopause: What you Need to Know

Did you know that you can still have fibroids after menopause? While uncommon, this is true. Now, uterine fibroids are an extremely common type of noncancerous tumor. Many women don’t even know they have fibroids, because they don’t experience symptoms, like pain or heavy menstrual flow. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, waiting to cause problems. Or that they’ll always resolve after your monthly period slows down or stops.

Stages of Menopause

Before we explore fibroids and menopause, you have to understand that the end of your periods happens slowly, in stages. First, there is premenopause; we define this as the years between your first period and perimenopause. Then, perimenopause begins when your ovaries start producing fewer hormones. During this time, which usually begins in your 40s, your periods become unreliable. But, during this time, you can still get pregnant, because you are producing some hormones. So you will also have to worry about estrogen and fibroid growth.

Perimenopause can be brief, or last for several years. We mark its end with menopause, which we say you’ve reached after 12 straight months without a period. Following that time, you’re a post-menopausal woman. So you won’t go through a menstrual cycle. But you still may notice fibroid symptoms.

Fibroids During Menopause

During menopause, your body’s sudden lack of reproductive hormones can cause fibroids to shrink. Typically, the change also prevents new fibroids from forming, but this is not always the case. Menopause is not a guaranteed cure for fibroids, which means that you may continue to experience uterine fibroid symptoms during and after menopause. uterine fibroids in menopause

Risk Factors

Certain conditions or factors can contribute to your likelihood of developing uterine fibroids. These include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Obesity
  • Low vitamin D levels. We’ve recently learned that having enough vitamin D allows your body to produce chemicals that may prevent fibroid growth. So having a deficiency could leave you vulnerable to fibroids after menopause, or at any other time.
  • A family history of uterine fibroids
  • An extended period of extreme stress
  • No history of pregnancy
  • African-American ethnicity
  • Being 40+ years of age

Treating Fibroids After Menopause

There are several treatment options available for women with uterine fibroids including:

Many of these treatments are the same for all women, regardless of age.  Still, menopause may make a more permanent surgical option, like a hysterectomy, more attractive since your childbearing years are over. Younger women that still plan to have children typically prefer to take oral contraceptives or undergo a minimally invasive procedure like UFE.

Even if you’ve experienced menopause, a hysterectomy is a very invasive procedure. That’s why it is important to discuss all of these options with your women’s health specialist. Together, we can help you reach a decision based on your current health and outlook on potential treatments. Click here to schedule an appointment with one of the fibroid specialists of Houston Fibroids, or please contact our office today at (713) 575-3686.

 

#WCW: Equal Fibroid Care for Black Women

It’s really hard to find equal fibroid care for black women. In fact, 73 percent of Black women say their doctors never mention UFE, a minimally invasive fibroid treatment option. Even worse? One in five Black women believes her only fibroid treatment option is a hysterectomy. That’s a big problem, since this major surgery causes many adverse health effects, and is often not necessary to relieve fibroid symptoms.

These statistics reveal the treatment knowledge disparity that hurts women of color who have fibroids. And that’s something Kimberly Wilson, our Woman Crush Wednesday nominee, learned the hard way. But, after her healthcare struggle, she’s making it easier to find equal care for black women. And, together with efforts from other groups, Wilson is leveling the playing healthcare playing field. Which is why we’re sharing her story today, and naming her our #WCW, woman crush of the week.

Getting a Fibroid Diagnosis Kimberly Wilson demands equal fibroid care for black women

In 2017, Wilson was diagnosed with fibroids. But, even though she had many fibroid symptoms, getting that diagnosis was really hard. She told Essence magazine, “Over a period of six months, I visited four different providers—all of whom were White men. Two completely dismissed my pain and trauma, while the other two stated that a hysterectomy was my only option. It wasn’t until finding a Black physician—over 100 miles away, that I received the culturally competent care that I needed and deserved.”

After her experience, Wilson wanted to make it easier for women of color to access quality healthcare. And part of that, she realized, meant these women needed help finding culturally sensitive healthcare providers.

That’s when she created HUED, a website that connects patients with medical professionals that specifically understand their cultural, physical and mental-health needs. Her goal? To help people of color access healthcare providers they could trust. Physicians who would listen to their needs. And never dismiss their reports of painful symptoms.

Today, that platform is helping black women access equal fibroid care. And care for many other health conditions. So we applaud Wilson’s efforts. Plus, we’re happy to report, she’s not alone in this fight.

Say Goodbye Fibroids

The White Dress Project, one of our favorite organizations, is also joining the fight. They’ve partnered with Acessa Health Inc. on the Goodbye Fibroids initiative. It’s goal? To unite women, doctors and political leaders in raising awareness of and improving care for women living with fibroids.

They’ve made presentations at the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference. And they’ve spent time discussing how women of different races don’t receiving the same quality of fibroid care.

As Acessa Health CEO Kim Rodriguez noted, “Unfortunately, there is a well-established racial barrier to women receiving less invasive alternatives to hysterectomy.”

In other words, black women have a much higher risk of developing fibroids. But they are much less likely to receive information about the full range of fibroid treatment options. Especially about minimally invasive procedures like Uterine Fibroid Embolization.

The facts are clear (and upsetting.) Among women who treated their fibroids with hysterectomies, African American women were less likely to receive a minimally invasive surgery compared to white women. They were also 40% more likely to develop complications. And nearly three times as likely to have an extended hospital stay. Plus, three times as likely to die after their procedures.

While these are statistics for hysterectomies, they don’t even begin to explore other fibroid treatment options. Which likely means that women aren’t even being informed about hysterectomy alternatives. In other words, equal fibroid care for black women is still a distant dream.

Working to Create Equal Fibroid Care for Black Women

Tanika Gray Valbrun, founder of The White Dress Project, also spoke to the Black Caucus. She said, “As a community we need to begin to address and change the clear, systematic and structural defect within the US healthcare system. [It] disproportionately pushes women of color toward the most invasive option, which is hysterectomy.”

Of course, for Valbrun, this cause is very personal. As she recently shared on her platform at CNN.com, “I’ve heard tales of women with light periods—you know, the ones where you can play tennis or have brunch, like in a tampon commercial. But since I was 14, my menstrual cycles have been something to survive, not celebrate. And it was years until I found out the reason why: Just like my mother, I have uterine fibroids.”

Diagnosed later in life, the blows kept coming for Valbrun. When she and her new husband tried getting pregnant, her doctor said she had 27 fibroids, and “They advised me to look for a surrogate.” Now, fibroids can interfere with conception.  But Valbrun wasn’t willing to give up. Instead, she says, “I cried for days. Then I decided to get a second opinion.”

Luckily for Valbrun, at her next medical appointment, she learned, “there was still a chance” for her to conceive.  First, she removed those 27 fibroids via myomectomy. Five years later, she needed laparoscopic surgery to remove new growths. Recently, she chose to shave down an existing fibroid. And today she says, ” I’m still on my path to motherhood, and have experienced two failed embryo transfers. Now, with my uterus as clean as possible, we will try again.”

Help for Fibroids in Houston

As interventional radiologists in Houston, we stand with Wilson and Valbrun. We want all women to know their fibroid treatment options, and to keep their fertility options open. And we want black women to get equal care and attention from fibroid specialists.

To help that cause, we promote #FibroidFix. This is a campaign to make all women aware of all the available treatment options for fibroids. Particularly the ones that preserve their fertility and minimize the risk of surgical complications. Will you join us in spreading the word?

We invite you to reach out to us for more information about UFE. And we ask you to share this information with all your female friends. You’ll help us make better healthcare accessible to every woman in this country.

Sources: Essence Magazine, Acessa Health 

#WCW: This Brave Woman Shares Her Fibroid Infertility Journey

If you’ve struggled with fibroid infertility complications, we’re here to help. In fact, as interventional radiologists in Houston, we may be the best experts to help you reclaim your fertility. After all, in addition to offering minimally invasive fibroid treatments, IR specialists can also clear blockages in your fallopian tubes using a procedure called fallopian tube recanalization. (After this procedure, women with blocked tubes report a 41% pregnancy rate. Which is much higher than IVF’s success rate.)

But how can we help when your fibroids are keeping you from getting pregnant? Well, many women go on to carry full-term healthy pregnancies after Uterine Fibroid Embolization. (Also called UFE, this is the procedure we perform in our Houston Interventional Radiologist practice.)

Now, if you’re not a candidate for UFE, you can still enjoy a happy ending to your fibroids infertility story. And, to help you keep the faith, we want to highlight a feel-good story we saw in Essence magazine. It’s one woman’s experience with fibroids infertility. But it’s also got a very happy ending: the arrival of her healthy baby girl. Which means it’s the news we need to read right now. And, while you’re reading, don’t forget that treating your fibroids will be important if you want to start or grow your family. That’s why we are here to help you start your treatment journey now, even if you’re months or years away from thoughts of growing families. And now, let’s get to the good stuff: Rachel James, our Woman Crush Wednesday, sharing her story.

Fibroid Infertility: Delayed

Diagnosis

Rachel and her husband Terrence were married for a year when they realized fertility could be a challenge. They’d been trying, unsuccessfully, to conceive, so Rachel went to see her doctor. Quickly, she told Essence, she got her answer: “That’s when [I discovered that] I had ten fibroids.”

While a fibroid diagnosis doesn’t automatically cause infertility, these non-cancerous uterine tumors can interfere with conception, pregnancy and delivery. Knowing this, Rachel decided to have her fibroids surgically removed. Even after three operations in three years, however, Rachel didn’t get pregnant—and her fibroids grew back, each and every time. So, she and Terrence decided to work with a fertility clinic.

After four rounds of failed interventions, Rachel finally got pregnant in December 2018—even though her fibroids returned. As a result, her pregnancy was difficult—after all, she had three fibroids surrounding her placenta and one underneath her uterus. Rachel told Essence, “I was on bed rest for the first 14 weeks and was at the doctor three times a week for my entire pregnancy.”

Still, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. In August 2019, the couple welcomed Reyna, their healthy baby girl. And, following this joy, Rachel shared her story publicly. Her goal? To help other women with fibroids find strength: “I felt inadequate while going through this,” she explains. “But I had to realize that we’re human, we’re flawed, and everything is not going to work perfectly every time. I had to give myself grace.”

Growing Your Family with Fibroids

As fibroid specialists, we are always thrilled to hear of happy endings like Rachel’s. Yet we are also pained to hear of her struggle—especially her three invasive surgeries. That’s why, in our practice, we offer a minimally invasive fibroid treatment.

Known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), this procedure shrinks and kills fibroids by cutting off their blood supply. And we are able to do that by inserting a catheter (thin tube) through a vein in your wrist. You don’t have to stay overnight in the hospital. And you’re typically able to get up and walk within an hour of your procedure. Plus, having UFE doesn’t mean you can’t have a child, although we suggest discussing any fibroid treatment with your OB-GYN.

Are you dreaming of starting a family? We can start your fibroid treatment process right now! Even if you prefer to delay UFE until you’re ready to get pregnant, we can begin with a fibroid consultation, helping you clarify your options. So, if you’re ready to start your treatment journey, we’re ready to help. Reach out today and request a consultation. We can’t wait to help you get a happy ending of your own!

 

Stress, Vitamin D Deficiency and Fibroid Risk: What You Need to Know

What do stress, vitamin d deficiency and fibroids have in common? Well, they’re all getting a lot more attention during the seemingly endless pandemic! And they can all affect your period, too!

After all, even in normal times, life is stressful. But when you’re in the middle of a global pandemic? That stress is multiplied and magnified to entirely new levels. Plus, we’re all spending more time indoors as so much of life has moved to online interactions, so our risk goes up for vitamin d deficiency.

Of course, these are problems for so many reasons. But, for our purposes, we’ll just focus on one: stress and vitamin d deficiency may increase your fibroid risk and impact your periods. In a minute, we’ll explore this idea further. First, however, we’ll give you a quick fibroid overview so we’re all on the same page.

What are fibroids? Female with Fibroids

Fibroid tumors are firm, muscular, uterine growths. We classify (and name them)  based on their location in or on your uterus. If they’re inside your uterus, they’re called submucosal. When they grow on your outer uterine surface, they’re subserosal. Fibroids in the muscles of your uterine wall are intramural, and fibroids that grow like stalks outside your uterus are pedunculated.

Fibroids also vary widely in size. Some are so small they go undetected, or cause no symptoms. But others are much larger, or develop in groups. When this happens, you’re likely to experience troubling symptoms such as pain, heavy periods, anemia, pregnancy complications or even infertility. That’s why we recommend treating your fibroids with a minimally invasive procedure such as Uterine Fibroid Embolization. And it’s also why we’re helping you understand why you get fibroids in the first place.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Other Risks: Why do Fibroids Develop?

Unfortunately, we don’t truly know what causes fibroid development. But we do know they impact black women more than any other group. (By the age of 50, 70% of white women have fibroids. But 80% of black women have them at the same age.)

Lots of things affect your fibroid risk. Current research suggests that a history of stress and depression increases your risk for heavy menstrual bleeding. Plus, stress may be associated with an increased fibroid risk. Also, research now suggests that vitamin d deficiency could increase your risk for fibroids. When working properly, your body’s vitamin d stores produce an anti-fibroid effect by reducing certain chemicals that seem to trigger fibroid growth. This factor, in addition to other factors we’ve already identified, including family history, and exposure to the chemicals within hair relaxers, could help explain why black women more often get fibroids. Because, vitamin d deficiency is 10 time more prevalent in Black women than in white women!

In combination, these factors can help you understand your fibroid risk. And understanding that stress increases your risk means now is a good moment to check in with your reproductive health. If you notice symptoms such as pelvic pain, frequent urination, or long and/or heavy periods, don’t wait. Seek help right away from a fibroid specialist. Don’t want to leave your house? No problem! Our Houston Fibroids team still offers remote fibroid consultations, via the secure Doxy platform. But we can also see you in our office if you need a procedure. Now, what kind of procedure will depend on your selected treatment preference. So let’s explore your best fibroid treatment plans.

How Should I Treat Fibroids?

All too often, you’ll hear that hysterectomy is the best fibroid treatment. But that’s actually not true for every woman. In fact, many women can find relief from fibroid symptoms with UFE, a minimally invasive procedure which cuts off fibroid blood supply. This effectively kills the tumors. All without surgery, and all while preserving your uterus!

Of course, some women may prefer a myomectomy—the surgical removal of individual fibroids. If this is your choice, just exercise caution. If your doctor wants to perform laparoscopic surgery, just say no to morcellators. They majorly increase your risk for uterine cancer.

What we really want you to understand is this. We’re living in stressful times. And that can hurt your health in so many ways. But don’t feel like you need to delay treating pressing health issues, just to avoid Coronavirus. There are real, concrete ways we can help you manage fibroids, all while preserving social distancing. So, if you’re in pain, reach out for help. Request an appointment with our fibroid specialists and we’ll put you on the path to relief. All while protecting you from unnecessary surgeries!

 

Sources: Seminars in Reproductive Medicine , Journal of Women’s Health Issues. Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., Columbia Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York.

Reality Check: When Do You Need a Hysterectomy?

So many women in this country get unnecessary hysterectomies! Every year, about 600,000 American women undergo this procedure. (And some estimates say 33% of all women in the U.S. will have a hysterectomy by the time they turn 60!) That’s scary news, since a hysterectomy (the complete removal of your  uterus) is a really big deal. But are there cases when hysterectomies are a must? Let’s take a closer look!

What’s a Hysterectomy?  Even with multiple fibroids, hysterectomy can be avoided

As we said, with a hysterectomy you lose your uterus. But there are different versions of this surgery. In an oophorectomy, doctors remove your ovaries. And with salpingectomy, you only lose your fallopian tubes. Need a hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy? That means your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries all have to go.

You may need a partial, total or radical hysterectomy. Partial hysterectomies preserve your cervix. Total hysterectomies don’t. And radical hysterectomies take your whole uterus, cervix and the top part of your vagina.

There are several different ways to perform a hysterectomy. The procedure your surgeon uses will depend on your individual needs. Options include going through your vagina or your abdomen. Or, in some cases, you could have a laparoscopic hysterectomy. That means your doctor could perform this procedure through a tiny incision, using minute telescopes to help see your uterus and safely remove it.

Why are Hysterectomies so Common?

Do 600,000 women a year REALLY need to lose their uterus? As minimally invasive fibroid treatment specialists, we know the answer is “no.” So why is this procedure so common? Unfortunately, a lot of factors play into the over-prevalence of hysterectomies.

First, this procedure has been around for years. So surgeons feel very comfortable performing hysterectomies. And they typically know what the surgical outcome will be, meaning less chances of unpleasant surprises. In contrast, less invasive options such as UFE are relatively new. Many doctors still aren’t familiar with these techniques, so they are less likely to recommend them as options.

And the problem doesn’t stop there. Research suggests that Black women are four times more likely to have a hysterectomy than White women. And they have hysterectomies more often than women of any other race. Yes, this could be tied to the higher incidence of fibroids in women of color. But it also has lots to do with healthcare inequality in this country. Which is something we can’t allow to keep happening.

When Do You NEED a Hysterectomy?

Hysterectomies are appropriate when you’re facing a life-threatening condition. So, if you have cancers of the uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix or vagina, you may need one. It may be necessary if a woman’s uterus ruptures during childbirth, or if her post-delivery bleeding is life-threatening. In some cases, women with severe PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) will need this surgery. (PID described an infection or inflammation in your uterus, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries. It affects about 12% of women, and can be contracted through sex or after getting an IUD, or a D&C following an abortion or miscarriage. If treated early, PID is easy to clear. But when left untreated, it can cause serious complications, including a necessary hysterectomy.)

So, that’s when you really need a hysterectomy. But there are other times when hysterectomies are also considered. Many women with fibroids and endometriosis are told they need to remove their uterus to get relief. And, while this may sometimes be true, other women can avoid this major surgery with less invasive treatment options. In our opinions, as Houston fibroid specialists, if there are treatments that could help women avoid hysterectomies, that should be the first line of defense. Except in cases of emergency, hysterectomies should be the last option your physician recommends.

Looking to treat your fibroids with a less invasive option? Our Houston area fibroid specialists are here to help! Schedule a consultation with our team, to see if you’re a good candidate for an alternative to hysterectomy!

Sources: CDC, Shape Magazine

#WCW: Black Women and Fibroids, a Constant Fight

Black women and fibroids just seem to go together. About 80% of all black women develop fibroids by the time they hit their 50s. In comparison, only 70% of white women will get these tumors in their lifetime. And it happens sooner too: almost 25% of black women aged 18-30 30 have fibroids. That’s another awful contrast, since just 6% of white women that age have them. Black women are also two to three times more likely to have recurring fibroids or suffer from complications. This means that the rate of fibroid development is much higher among black women, but that’s not the only concern.

Black women are far more likely to end up in the hospital because of fibroid complications. Even worse? Because they have more fibroids, traditional screening methods often miss endometrial cancers in Black women, resulting in their 90% higher mortality rate for this cancer type, according to a new study in JAMA Oncology.

Those are scary statistics. And that’s why many women impacted by these benign tumors are taking steps to raise fibroid awareness. Another motivating reason? They want to help other black women gain the information needed to receive high-quality fibroid care, that doesn’t always involve a hysterectomy. Because black women are also at least twice as likely as white women to get a hysterectomy due to fibroids, even when they’re still of childbearing age.

Now, those missions line up perfectly with our own. So, today, we salute two of the women crusading for black women with fibroids as our Women Crushes of the Week. black women and fibroids

For Black Women and Fibroids: the Fibroid Pandemic

When LaToya. Dwight was diagnosed with fibroids, her doctors offered a hysterectomy. But, as she explained in a recent interview, “I did not know what fibroids were, and was not given any resources… That did not sit well with me and made me do my research.”

Thankfully, that research led her to lifestyle changes, and a less invasive treatment option. Following her decision, she said, “I realized that a lot of women do not know where to turn because they are typically given the recommendation of having a hysterectomy. And while there is nothing wrong with having one, statistically, 60% of hysterectomies are not needed.” To help fill that information gap, she started the Fibroid Pandemic platform.

Among other resources, Dwight shares information that will help Black women address fibroid symptoms holistically. Specifically, she helps target factors that may be responsible for Black women’s increased fibroid risks. One key lifestyle change she advocates? Changing cosmetics brands. Especially hair care products, since many products marketed for black hair care contain strong chemicals that have been linked to increased fibroid risk. This is very important information, as are the tips our next #WCW shares through her platforms.

Meet The Black Woman “Fibroid Queen”

Registered nurse and fitness trainer Phyllis Frempong expressed concern about Black women’s healthcare equality: “Black women are last when learning the information needed to maximize our options. In the medical system, it has been this way for a long time. It has been set up for us to be at a disadvantage; therefore, we are required to educate and empower ourselves to stay abreast of what is going on.”

She uses her Instagram platform to advocate fibroid fighting fitness routines. As we know, maintaining a healthy weight can help minimize fibroid symptoms and growth, likely because carrying extra pounds can mess with your hormones.

Still, Ms. Frempong knows that talking fibroids isn’t easy. She says, “I grew up in an African household, so talking about medical issues was not encouraged. I remember my mom coming home really drained and tired, and asking her what happened. After initially dismissing me, she later said that her doctor informed her that she would need to get her uterus taken out. I asked why and she said that was fibroids. I did not quite know what fibroids were, I just remembered the name. So, years later, while in nursing school, I asked the doctor for an ultrasound and was questioned. When in a situation like this, always go with your instincts. Something told me to request it, and after finding a quarter-sized fibroid on my uterus, I was told to just monitor it.”

The Growth Cycle Continues Exercise can help black women and fibroids

She did just that, but she developed more fibroids, like so many black women with fibroids. And they grew large. Frempong says she felt like a failure, because she’d waited around for things to get worse. All without knowing steps that could help stop her fibroids’ progression.

Today, she’s protecting other women from the same experience. She says, “I used what I learned as a nurse and fitness coach and created a lifestyle regiment to not only reduce my symptoms but shrink my fibroids. I realized that if I could do that, then I could help others. So now, my mission is to help millions of women end their suffering with holistic resources and a community of like-minded women to live their lives beyond fibroids.”

Minimally Invasive Fibroid Treatment

In our Houston area fibroid practice, we also work hard to share information about treatment options. We want women to know that hysterectomy isn’t always the answer. That’s part of why we share women’s fibroid stories. And it’s why we always offer patient education regarding Uterine Fibroid Embolization, or UFE, a non-surgical fibroid treatment.

We also know that UFE isn’t for everyone. And that’s ok. Our only goal is to make sure all women know that they have choices. So, if you want to explore minimally invasive fibroid treatments, we are here to help. Check out our guidelines to see if you’re a UFE candidate. And feel free to schedule an in-office or Telemedicine consultation with our team of specialists.

Sources: Healthy Woman, Chicago Defender

3 Need to Know Facts on Pregnancy and Fibroids Location

Have you ever wondered about problems with pregnancy and fibroids? When you learn that you have fibroids, it means that you have a non-cancerous tumor in your uterus. And, since your uterus is a large, layered organ, we classify and name fibroids based on where in your uterus they develop.

In case you need a review: your uterus has three layers: the outer serosa; the middle, muscular myometrium; and the inner lining—the endometrium. This endometrium is the lining that you shed each month during your period.

Now that you’ve got the anatomy down, we’ll get to classifying fibroids. There are three different types of fibroids.
1. Uterine fibroids that develop beneath the outside covering of the womb are called sub-serosal.

2. If they form in your uterine muscle, they are intramural.

3. And if fibroids pop up in your uterine cavity, inside the endometrium, they are submucosal.

Many women find it difficult to become pregnant while they have untreated fibroids. But, if you do become pregnant, the location of your fibroids can make a major difference in your ability to carry your child to term.

Sub Mucosal Fibroids and Pregnancy

When it comes to pregnancy and fibroids, tumors that develop in your womb can have the greatest impact on your pregnancy. If the fibroid is large enough to change the shape of your womb, you may experience pregnancy complications. Common side effects include, spotting and pain. Your fetal growth could be limited, because fibroids take up too much space in your uterus. With pregnancy and fibroids, your risk for premature delivery and miscarriage also increases. And during your pregnancy, you’re also at risk for placental abruption (when your placenta detaches from your uterus.)

In some cases, your fibroid may require you to have a C-section. That’s because its growth can alter your baby’s position, or block off your delivery pathway.

Getting Pregnant with Fibroids

Sometimes, the location of your fibroid can make it difficult to become pregnant. In fact, we find fibroids in between 5% – 10% of women with infertility. The most common culprits? Fibroids that are inside your uterine cavity (submucosal). You may also have trouble getting pregnant with very large intramural fibroids (the ones within the wall of your uterus.) And that could be becausefibroids reduce the presence of certain cytokines that are important to the conception process.

Luckily, most women with fibroids can still become pregnant. But if you have fibroids and plan to get pregnant, you should receive a thorough medical evaluation. After all, fibroids can impact your fertility in several ways.

They can change your cervix shape, limiting the number of sperm that enter your uterus. Depending on location, fibroids can also change your uterine shape, getting in the way of sperm or fertilized embryos. Some fibroids may block your fallopian tubes, which keeps your egg from traveling to your uterus for fertilization. Also, fibroids can impact your endometrial lining, making it harder for embryos to implant. This problem is further complicated if fibroid affect blood flow to your uterine cavity. Why? Limited blood makes it even tougher for embryos to implant in your uterus.

Fibroids and Pregnancy: Concerns After Conception

Now you know what you need to watch out for when you’re trying to conceive. But here are some concerns to understand when you’re dealing with pregnancy and fibroids.

  1. Submucosal fibroids can restrict your fetus’ growth, because they take up space in your uterus. Towards the end of your pregnancy, you may also experience more pain as your growing baby and your fibroid fight for limited space.
  2. Any fibroid that changes the shape of your cervix increases your risk for a breech delivery. (That’s when your baby is born feet-first, instead of the more optimal head down position.)
  3. If your fibroid blocks your baby’s placenta, the placenta could break away from the inner wall of your uterus before your delivery, impacting your baby’s nutrition and oxygen levels. (Called placental abruption, this situation can leave you with heavy bleeding. And it may mean a forced early delivery for your baby.)
  4. Fortunately, a 2017 study revealed that fibroids can’t be linked to an increased risk of miscarriage.

Boost Fertility and Treat Fibroids in Houston

Now, we know these are all scary ideas. But here’s some good news for you. First of all, these complications occur in between 10 to 30% of pregnant women with fibroids. So, your pregnancy could be unaffected. And, most fibroids don’t grow during pregnancy. In fact, with your changing hormone levels, some fibroids may even shrink while you’re pregnant.

Still, given the potential risks to you and your growing baby, you should talk to your healthcare provider about your fibroids if you want to become or already are pregnant. Most experts recommend treating fibroids before trying to conceive. Because, once you’re pregnant, your treatment options are very limited.

Are you thinking of starting your family, and you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids? Schedule a consultation with our Houston fibroid specialists right away.  We can review treatment options, to help you conceive and safely carry your baby to term.

Sources: American Society for Reproductive Medicine

#WCW: Evette Dionne is a Fighting Fibroids Warrior

As Houston fibroid specialists, we commit to fighting fibroids with minimally invasive treatment options. But we often have an uphill battle. Many doctors tell their patients that Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is an option. (UFE is a procedure that starves fibroids of blood and oxygen through injections delivered via catheter. It effectively kills them.) And because not all doctors are on our team, many women with fibroids believe they must have surgery. But here’s one woman who’s joined the fight to help fibroid patients learn their options. Here’s to you Evette Dionne, our Woman Crush of the Week! 

Fighting Fibroids: Making a Warrior

Like Ms. Dionne, editor in chief of Bitch Media, many black women spend years dealing with fibroids for years. (These are non-cancerous tumors that develop in and on the uterus.) Even worse, experts don’t know exactly why women of color are more affected by fibroids. But the phenomenon is so bad, the New York Times has recently devoted several features to highlighting the plight of black women with fibroids.

Luckily, Dionne has always felt comfortable advocating for her own best healthcare, but Dionne also realizes that not every woman is equally capable of doing so. Still, there wasn’t much she thought she could do–until one common fibroid-sufferer experience changed everything.

Recently, Dionne had a two-week menstrual period, something that’s not so unusual for women with fibroid tumors. She decided to tweet about it, because so many black women like herself suffer from fibroids, but don’t earn their doctors attention, leaving them with fibroids so large their only treatment option is hysterectomy. In her tweet, Dionne said: “Nearly every Black woman I know has fibroids, and nearly all of their doctors have told them it’s nothing to worry about. That’s a lie. You should be concerned, monitoring the fibroid’s growth through transvaginal ultrasounds, and getting second opinions.”

Since sending out that tweet, Dionne has launched a mini Twitter series on fibroid care, hoping her stewardship will help other Black women receive the best possible fibroid care.

Fighting Fibroids: Is it Better to Monitor or Remove ?

Dionne was diagnosed in 2015 with fibroids. She tells Prevention magazine that she gets an ultrasound from her gynecologist every six months to monitor her fibroid growth. She also gets annual biopsies to make sure she’s shedding her uterine lining each month, and to ensure there are no cancerous cells in her uterus.

Still, Dionne says, some of her symptoms are very difficult to manage. “My doctor has experimented with different medications to control the bleeding, and so far, none have worked as intended. At some point, I will have to consider having the fibroid removed to eliminate the symptoms,” she says.

We support Dionne in her fibroid struggle, and we hope that, when the time comes for her to address the root cause of her symptom, she will be vocal in illuminating the surgical and non-surgical options available to her and other women suffering from their fibroid symptoms.

Sources: Prevention.com

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