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Author: Houston Fibroids

#WCW: Condoleezza Rice, UFE Trailblazer

Today, many women treat uterine fibroids without surgery. Choosing UFE, uterine fibroid embolization, is not that unusual. But back in 2004, when Condoleeza Rice was national security advisor to this country, this was not the case. At that time, UFE was a relatively new fibroid treatment method. Nonetheless, Ms. Rice chose this minimally-invasive procedure—and publicized her decision to help other women understand their options. For that, she is our original (and always) Woman Crush Wednesday.

Choosing to Avoid Fibroid Surgery

At the time Ms. Rice treated her non-cancerous tumors of the uterus, 30% of hysterectomies in the U.S. were performed on women with fibroids. And, at that same time, only 13,000 women each year opted for fibroid embolization—after all, it was first performed by French doctors in 1995, so was relatively new less than a decade later.

Even so, Ms. Rice made a bold choice and, after just a one night hospital stay, was able to successfully treat her fibroids with UFE. The procedure itself lasted just an hour and a half. She was treated on a Friday and back to work on Monday.

What is UFE?

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) cuts off blood supply to the tumor, slowing their growth and ultimately shrinking the fibroid.

In our Houston fibroids practice, we trans-radial access, which means we treat your fibroids through the radial artery in your left wrist. Unlike when Ms. Rice had UFE, and the femoral artery provided treatment access, this method has fewer complications and is less painful.  It also means that our patients can sit up and walk right after the procedure, leading to quicker recovery times.

In 2004, UFE was a cutting-edge procedure—and it just keeps getting better. Plus, today, far more women know about and choose this minimally-invasive treatment. Still, too many women don’t know about UFE…and end up having unnecessary surgeries. Join us, and our WCW Condoleezza Rice, in spreading the word. Tell your female friends: #chooseufe!

Warning: Hysterectomy May Cause These 2 Mental Health Issues

Many women with fibroids think they need a hysterectomy—a surgical removal of the uterus. Some are told it’s the only way to relieve fibroid symptoms, even though there are less invasive treatments available, like uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). No matter what the reason, women who undergo hysterectomies must deal with the recovery of a major surgery. And now, according to a new study, we know they may also end up facing mental health struggles after their hysterectomy.

How a Hysterectomy can Hurt Your Mental Health

In a new study published in the journal Menopause, women’s risk for anxiety and depression increased after  hysterectomy.

To reach this conclusion, researchers reviewed the medical records of 2,094 women who’d had ovary-sparing hysterectomies. For this study, none of those women had cancer. Next, they compared the records to the same amount of same-aged women who hadn’t had a hysterectomy. They followed both groups for 22 years.  

As it turns out, woman’s risk for depression relatively increased by 26 percent with hysterectomy. And the risk for anxiety increased by 22 percent after hysterectomy. Researchers discovered that age matters too. Apparently, women who had a hysterectomy before  35 were at a 47 percent increased risk for depression and a 45 percent increased anxiety risk. Outside of cancer, the reason for the hysterectomy didn’t seem to impact the increased risk of mental health issues.

According to lead study author, Dr. Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mayo Clinic, “Hysterectomy is right for some women. But there is this 4 to 6 percent of women who will be affected by depression or anxiety. We’re hoping women will talk with their doctors and see if there’s any alternative they could use instead.”

UFE: The non-surgical fibroid treatment option

Thankfully, many women with fibroids can find a non-surgical alternative to hysterectomy in our Houston-area practice. Using imagine, catheters and an injection, we are able to cut off blood flow to your fibroids, which makes them shrink and, eventually, disappear. It’s a minimally invasive procedure, usually not involving a hospital stay.

If you have fibroids and are concerned about having a hysterectomy, reach out to our doctors. We can help you determine if UFE is the right treatment option for you.

Sources: Menopause, The New York Times

#WCW: Fibroids are Heading to New York’s Broadway!

When you have fibroids, it can feel like they are taking over your whole life. If you have symptoms like pelvic pain or heavy periods, there are times when that is all you can think about! Well, if there’s anyone who can relate, it’s Andrea Coleman, an African American comedian, actress and fibroid sufferer. Coleman created the Fibroid Chronicles, an off-broadway play, to help raise fibroid awareness. She is spreading the message in the African American community (where up to 80% of women will develop fibroids). She is spreading it beyond. And for that reason, she is our official Woman Crush Wednesday, #WCW. 

Inside the Fibroid Chronicles: One Woman’s Journey

The Fibroid Chronicles is a solo comedy show about a black woman’s struggle to live with uterine fibroids. It will enjoy a limited run, in October, at a Manhattan theater called The Tank. Coleman, the show’s creator, is also the host of the popular live law comedy show, “Wack or Woke? Andrea Coleman Judges the Law.”

In this play, Coleman centers her story in the emergency and operating room. She takes a playful look at some of the most difficult fibroid symptoms. From trying to wear an adult diaper to bed without her date noticing, to experiencing 27 hours of urinary incontinence, audience members will enjoy an hilarious take on her life with fibroids. But they’ll also be part of a bigger, more important conversation: Coleman draws attention to the fact that African American women don’t enjoy the same quality of healthcare in this country as do other populations. In fact, Coleman calls out the 2014 finding by the UN that America’s health care treatment of black women classifies as a human rights violation. 

Through humor, Coleman helps women understand what it’s like to live with fibroids. She helps them learn to identify some common symptoms, so women feel empowered to discuss fibroids with their doctors. And, in doing so, she earns an important spot in our Woman Crush Wednesday hall of fame! 

This is the One Period Symptom You Never Ignore

Every woman knows: sometimes having your period is a pain. Literally. You may get cramps. You may feel bloated or tired. But, as it turns out, some period symptoms should always be cause for concern. And the number one symptom to never ignore? Periods that keep getting longer!

What is Considered a Longer Period?

On average, your menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days. (That count runs from the first day of one period and ends on the last day before your next one.) Still, cycles vary, so having a cycle anywhere between 21 to 40 days is normal.

When your periods are normal, bleeding lasts between two and seven days. You typically lose just three to five tablespoons of blood over those days. But sometimes, you bleed for longer. And, when that is the case, you often end up losing a lot more blood as well. 

Of course, a longer or heavier period doesn’t always mean you have a health problem. But, since periods that last over a week could be a sign of an underlying condition, you need to be seen by your doctor if long periods are becoming your new normal.

What Causes Long, Heavy Periods? tampons

In some cases, a longer period means you’ve got an iron deficiency, especially when you’re also dizzy or have chest pain or difficulties breathing. 

One long, heavy period could mean you have a ‘missed miscarriage,’ meaning you lost your baby before you knew you were pregnant. 

If your periods used to be shorter, then suddenly become long and heavy, you could have cervical cancer or even kidney disease. A more common cause of heavy periods, however, are fibroid tumors, non-cancerous growths that develop in or around your uterus. They could also be a sign of adenomyosis, a condition in which the inner lining of your uterus breaks through its muscle wall. 

Basically, a long, heavy period could mean something really serious is going on with your body. Or it could mean nothing at all. But, given the possibilities, it’s always worth discussing this, or any sudden change in your cycle, with your doctor. 

 

 

This is What Black Women Must Know About Fibroid Surgery

Fibroids—non-cancerous tumors of the uterus—are a pretty common problem. Especially among black women, who develop these tumors at a higher rate than other women. In fact, by the time they reach 50, 80% of black women will develop fibroids.

Fortunately, fibroids are fairly easy to treat. Unfortunately, many women opt for what they think is minimally invasive fibroid surgery. And then, they end up dying. Why? Because the surgeries they thought would cure them actually spread undiagnosed uterine cancer to other parts of their bodies. Of course, this could happen to any woman with fibroids. But as it turns out, it’s impacting black women at a higher rate of danger. uterine fibroid embolization procedure

Fibroid Surgery Can Spread Cancer

So many doctors recommend laparoscopic surgery to remove a woman’s fibroids. They claim it is a minimally invasive procedure. But, because it involves the use of a surgical instrument called a power morcellator, it is actually an extremely dangerous procedure.

Why? Morcellators divide and remove large masses of tissue, like fibroids. during laparoscopic surgery. In fibroid surgeries, the tumors are chopped up (or morcellated) into smaller pieces so they can easily be removed through the small incision.

This is all well and good if a woman is completely healthy. If, however, she has undiagnosed uterine cancer, some of the cancer cells may be spread while the non-cancerous fibroids are being morcellated. And, if the cancer is leiomyosarcoma, or LMS, (an aggressive form of uterine cancer) doctors are unlikely to notice the cancer cells until they are in the middle of surgery, or, even worse, after the procedure is done and the tissue is being examined in the lab. At either of those stages, damage may already have been done. Cancer could be spread outside the woman’s uterus.

Cancer Could be Hiding Next to Fibroids

While fibroids are non-cancerous tumors, some may also be attached to cancerous cells. And if those cancerous cells are LMS, they will likely give no warning signs or symptoms until it’s too late.

Now, when LMS stays in your uterus, there’s only a 50% survival rate after five years. And chopping up and spreading those cells outside your uterus decreases that already low survival rate.

And here’s even more bad news. Not only are black women at a higher risk of developing fibroids, they are also  two to three times more likely to have LMS than white women. When you combine those two factors, it adds up to this fact: black women who get laparoscopic fibroid surgery or laparoscopic hysterectomies have an extremely high risk of spreading cancer throughout their bodies. In fact, according to the FDA, the odds  are about 1 in 115.

Morcellators are Still In Use

Each year in this country, 50,000 to 100,000 still have laparoscopic surgeries with morcellators. And many of the women receiving these operations don’t even know their risks! Currently, the FDA is reviewing the safety of the power morcellator. But, when women who were hurt by this procedure testified, not one black woman was included in the group. That means we need help spreading the word. Tell your friends with fibroids that laparoscopic fibroid surgery could be fatal. Then, send them our way. We can discuss safer treatment options, including Uterine Fibroid Embolization, a minimally invasive treatment option that doesn’t come with a risk of spreading uterine cancer.

Why Choose Fibroid Surgery? UFE Gives Equal (or Better!) Results

we We’ve got some exciting news: UFE is just as effective at treating fibroids as myomectomy surgery!

Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that develop in the wall of the uterus. They’re typically non-cancerous, and may go unnoticed by some women. Symptoms of fibroids include heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent urination and pain during sex. Women with fibroids may also have a hard time becoming or remaining pregnant. 

Many women are told that a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is the answer to troubling fibroid symptoms. But women who don’t want to have a hysterectomy have to choose between other treatment options, including Uterine Fibroid Embolization and Myomectomy. UFE involves threading a thin tube into the blood vessel that supplies a fibroid tumor. Then, we permanently block the blood vessel with an injection of small plastic or gel particles. That blockage causes fibroids to shrink over time. Myomectomy, in contrast, involves surgical removal of a fibroid tumor. It’s  a more invasive treatment, but may be a better option for women who still want to become pregnant. 

New Study Compares Fibroid Treatment Options

In this study, researchers looked at data from 950 women, half of whom had UFE and half who had a myomectomy to treat fibroids. Both groups of women gave health updates for the following seven years. 

After reviewing the data, the findings were pretty clear: the procedures were similarly effective fibroid treatments. Seven years after the procedures, women in both groups had higher hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin rose because heavy bleeding improved.

When it came to follow up procedures, the UFE group fared better. While 9.9% of the myomectomy group needed secondary procedures, in the UFE group, that number was only 8.6%. 

And, among the women who had a myomectomy, there were higher rates of post-surgical complications, including the need for a blood transfusion (2.9% versus 1.1% for those who had UFE). 

Study author Dr. Jemianne Bautista-Jia said, “The two treatments were comparably effective [and] UFE resulted in more favorable outcomes.” Additionally, the radiology resident at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center noted, women who had UFE had less pain and shorter recovery times. Those women also reported greater relief from heavy bleeding.

These benefits are so clear, but “Patients are often not fully informed of their treatment options…UFE and myomectomy are procedures with similar efficacy and durability for treating fibroids, but the UFE has fewer complications and shorter hospital stays.” She hopes these study findings will help raise UFE awareness. She encourages all women with fibroids to discuss UFE with their doctors before deciding on a course of treatment. 

#WCW: Evette Dionne is a Fibroid Health Warrior

As Houston fibroid specialists, we are determined to deliver minimally invasive treatment options to women. 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! 

The Making of a Fibroid Warrior

 Ms. Dionne, editor in chief of Bitch Media, has been dealing with fibroids for years (non cancerous tumors that develop in and on the uterus.) She 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. 

Should You Monitor or Remove Fibroids?

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 

Are fibroids giving you bladder trouble? Here’s how to cope!

When you have small fibroids (non-cancerous tumors in your uterus), you may not have any symptoms. You may not even know they are there. But when your tumors are large, they can cause problems like pelvic pain, heavy periods, constipation and bladder problems

Today, we’re going to talk about fibroids and your bladder: why they are connected and how you can deal with symptoms. First, let’s explore why fibroids can impact your need to pee. 

Fibroids and the Bladder: What’s the Connection toilet

According to research published in the Journal of American Obstetrics & Gynecology, large fibroids change the size of your uterus. And, when your uterus changes size, it can put pressure on your bladder, giving you a frequent, urgent need to pee. 

That same study found that, when women treated their fibroids, their need to urinate became less frequent. What didn’t disappear, however, was the “urge incontinence,” many women experienced. Urge incontinence is a sudden, urgent need to pee. It means your bladder goes from ‘just fine’ to ‘about to have an accident’ with almost no warning. And, since fibroid treatment doesn’t always clear up this symptom on its own, here are some helpful tips for retraining your bladder, courtesy of the American College of Physicians. 

Retraining Your Bladder After Fibroids

The main purpose of retraining your bladder is to go to the bathroom less frequently every day. So, to start off, the ACOP recommends keeping a ‘pee journal,’ recording the number of times, and the time at which, you urinate each day. The goal is to stretch out the amount of time between each trip to the bathroom. In order to help you extend time between toilet trips, they suggest the following:

  • Don’t rush to the bathroom when you feel the urge to urinate. Sit still and try to hold out as long as possible.
  • Avoid going to the bathroom “just in case.”
  • Distract yourself from thoughts about urination when you feel the urge.
  • Try delaying bathroom trips by clenching your fists or crossing your legs.
  • Practice ‘kegels’ (pelvic floor exercises) so it’s easier to hold your pee.
  • Stay hydrated to avoid urinary tract infections.
  • Avoid beverages with caffeine, since they increase your need to urinate.

Bladder control problems can be embarrassing and take a toll on your life. But, with proper fibroid treatment and some bladder retraining, you can get back to feeling like yourself!

Sources: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, https://www.ajog.org, Annals of Internal Medicine, https://annals.org

Update: Menopause Doesn’t Always Cure Uterine Fibroids

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, even after your monthly period slows down or stops. 

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 that can contribute to your likelihood of developing uterine fibroids. These include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Obesity
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • 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 Postmenopausal Uterine Fibroids

There are several treatment options available for woman 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.

It is important to discuss all of these options with your women’s health specialist as they will be able to help you reach a decision based on your current health and outlook on potential treatments. To schedule an appointment with one of the fibroid specialists of Houston Fibroids, please contact our office today at (713) 575-3686.

 

5 Reasons You Cramp That AREN’T Your Period

You probably expect at least a little cramping during your menstrual period. But when those painful cramps show up at other times of the month? It can be scary–and confusing! To help clear up the questions, let’s explore a few reasons you may cramp when it’s not that time of the month! 

1. Constipation

When you’re backed up, a stomach ache isn’t surprising. What you may not realize is that constipation can also make you cramp! And that cramping won’t be limited to your period: it can appear at any time of the month!  One easy way to beat constipation? Drink tons of H20 (try infusing it with fresh fruit if plain old water just isn’t your thing.) The good news? Even if constipation isn’t the cause of your cramps, only good can co

me from upping your liquid intake. 

2. Fibroids

Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop on the walls of the uterus.  Depending on their size and location, fibroids can cause a whole host of symptoms including pain, heavy periods and–you guessed it–cramps, even when you’re not menstruating. Thankfully, there are numerous fibroid treatments available, many of which are non-invasive and don’t require surgery! 

3. Cysts

Cysts, like fibroids, are non-cancerous growths. The difference? Cysts are fluid filled, fibroids are muscular. But one thing they have in common? They can both cause you to experience cramps outside of your period. And, like fibroids, there are a range of treatment options available to you. Fibroids and cysts can both be diagnosed with an ultrasound in your doctor’s office. 

4. Sexually Transmitted Infections

Infections like Chlamydia, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), and Gonorrhea can all cause abdominal pain, and other symptoms like cramps. No one wants to contract an STI, but knowing that cramps are an STI symptom is very helpful! That’s especially true because many infections go undetected for long periods of time. If there’s a chance you’ve had STI exposure, and are experiencing non-menstrual cramping, get tested in your doctors office so you can begin treatment and avoid transmitting the infection to a current or future partner. 

Sources: webmd.com