Author: Houston Fibroids

How Yoga Can Help Manage Period Pain

One of the most uncomfortable side effects of uterine fibroids is menstrual discomfort. Cramps become more intense, and your cycle is often longer and heavier. While over-the-counter medications can offer some relief from your menstrual discomfort, if this is a monthly issue, you may want to seek a more natural form of pain relief. 

So next month, instead of popping some Advil, why not try one (or more) of these poses from Do You Yoga? The moves are all designed to target areas of your body that are specifically affected by period pain! 

Yoga Positions to Relieve Menstrual Pain

1. Child’s Pose  

Child’s pose is the go-to resting pose in most active yoga classes. The pose is a great option for those suffering from menstrual-cycle related back pain because it gently stretches the low back muscles. 

Focus on deeply breathing into the back and notice the rise and the fall of the breath in the body. Relax through the hips and let the torso rest upon the tops of the thighs which will help alleviate fatigue.

Tip: Put a bolster or pillow under the torso to make it more comfortable for you to hold the pose. 

2. Forward Fold

Forward Fold pose lengthens your spine and stretches your hips, possibly helping alleviate pelvic pain. It also helps ease the pain that radiates down the legs and around the back by stretching the hamstrings, calves, and back.

For an extra stretch, grasp opposite elbows while you are in the pose to release your neck muscles and further unwind.

3. Knees-to-Chest Pose
One of the most effective poses for menstrual pain is the Knees-to-Chest pose because it the lower back and abdominal muscles, relieving tension and reducing pain. Knees-to-Chest pose also increases circulation to the abdomen which may help deliver some pain relief. 

When you are in the pose, try rocking from side to side and back to front to sneak in a bonus back massage! 

4. Cat/Cow

Moving slowly through the active Cat-Cow pose will warm up the body, an action that is known to help relieve menstrual cramps. In addition, these poses target the back and abdominal muscles—stretching and toning them. 

Try going from one pose to the other at your own pace, lingering where desired. Remember to inhale as you rise to Cow pose, and exhale as you coil inwards with Cat pose.

 

Yoga can a wonderful option to help you cope with the painful menstrual side effects of fibroids, but even the best pose won’t offer permanent relief. If monthly fibroid symptoms are interfering with your daily activities, it’s time to explore other treatment options with your Houston fibroid specialists! 

Why Size Matters When it Comes to Fibroids

Many women are diagnosed with uterine fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that develop in and around the uterus, but not every fibroid diagnosis is the same. Did you know that fibroids can range in size from almost undetectable to the size of a grapefruit or, in extreme cases, the size of a fully grown fetus? 

While any size of fibroid can cause potential complications, common sense comes into play here: the bigger the uterine fibroid, the larger an impact it is likely to have on a woman’s health. This is especially true when it comes to side effects like weight gain and uterine bloating. 

Weight Gain with Fibroids
While most women will seek treatment early on in the fibroid process, some tumors grow to the “giant” size of 25 pounds or more–that’s a lot of extra weight to carry around! In fact, the largest ever recorded fibroid weighed a whopping 140 pounds! 

Of course, a woman’s uterus expands alongside larger fibroids. Even women with grapefruit-sized tumors will appear to gain more weight than just the extra pounds of their tumors. Larger fibroids can stretch a woman’s uterus to the point where she appears to be 4-5 months pregnant, not a look most women seek outside of pregnancy! 

Seeking Fibroid Treatment or Removal
Because larger fibroids can take such a toll on a woman’s health, it’s important to determine the size of a tumor before deciding on the course of treatment. 

Women with large fibroids should have them imaged for more exact measurements; once your doctor has those facts, you can decide together whether the tumor should be removed. There is, of course, a risk in delaying or foregoing treatment: left alone, your fibroids are likely to keep growing, causing more symptoms and unpleasant side effects.

Larger fibroids may also lead to complications such as: 

  • Impacting the uterine lining: fibroids found on the inside of your uterus may change the shape of your uterine lining. If not removed, they can impact your ability to become or stay pregnant.
  • Uterine damage: Fibroids that are larger than a three-month-old fetus can cause damage to your uterus during surgical removal, and should be treated before reaching that size. 
  • Ruptures: Very large fibroids may burst inside you, causing sudden, extreme pain. 
  • Blood clots: Though it is extremely uncommon, very large fibroids can cause you to develop a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in your lung), a potentially fatal complication. 

Because unchecked fibroid growth can lead to many complications, it’s important to begin exploring your treatment options as soon as you receive a diagnosis. Once you know how large your fibroids already are, you and your doctor can decide if they should be surgically removed or if other, less invasive options, may help you find relief from your symptoms. 

#WCW: Kandi Burruss Explores Surrogacy after Fibroids

Recently, Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burruss opened up about her journey to expand her family. The reality star already shares two children with husband but is now considering surrogacy as an option. She shared her reasons with the entire country, on Bravo TV, on the November 25 episode of her show. For her bravery, we’ve nominated Kandi as our Woman Crush Wednesday honoree! 

On that episode, Kandi is seen at an OBGYN appointment with Dr. Jackie Walters. They talk about the complications she experienced when pregnant with Ace, her now-2-year-old son. Even though Kandi had surgery to remove fibroids before conceiving Ace through IVF, she thinks some fibroids remained. Because of those fibroids, she says, ” [I had] a couple of scares during my pregnancy with Ace. I was a high risk and I did have bleeding a few times.”

Fibroids during pregnancy can certainly affect a mother’s ability to carry her child to term. Depending on size and location, uterine fibroids can lead to pre-term labor or miscarriage, if a woman is able to conceive at all. 

While Kandi was previously able to conceive with fibroids, she has not been as lucky while trying to have a third child. “I know there was still some fibroids after pregnancy,” she says. “I feel like it got worse because Ace is two now and [no conception is] happening.”

Ultimately, Kandi accepted the fact that she will not carry another child herself: “My womb is just, it’s not the best place to have a healthy pregnancy with no issues,” she admitted to her doctor. Still, she’s not ready to give up on her family dream, so Kandi is looking for a surrogate to carry the two remaining embryos she has from going through the IVF process. 

For women who still want to have families, dealing with fibroids can be a challenge. There’s no way around that fact. But what strong women like Kandi Burruss are proving is that fibroids don’t have to derail your plans. There are multiple treatment options available and many different ways to complete your family. All you need to do is stay open to possibilities, and work with your fibroid specialists to find the plan that works best for you and your family. 

 

 

Birth Control and Fibroids: What You Need to Know

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that affect many women throughout their lifetime.  Fibroids can develop in several different places in or on the uterus, and will be classified as  as subserosal, intramural, or submucosal depending on where they develop. While no one knows exactly why these tumors develop, most doctors agree that their growth can be affected by the presence of estrogen, which may be why many women’s fibroids grow and develop during pregnancy. Because estrogen likely affects fibroid development, many women will wonder how taking birth control will impact their fibroid growth and development. Here are four things women with fibroids should know about their birth control:

Your Periods Will Probably get Lighter

A common side effect of fibroids is long, heavy periods; using birth control pills may help manage this symptom. Birth control typically gives women lighter, shorter periods because the estrogen in the medications can help improve blood clotting and reduce your menstrual flow.

You May Have Fewer Cramps

Pelvic pain and cramps are another typical fibroid side effect—and these cramps can be quite severe for women dealing with these tumors. Many women on birth control pills experience cramping relief because the medications can decrease a woman’s prostaglandin count (prostaglandins make the uterus contract, leading to cramps.)

Your Fibroids Could Get Bigger

While taking birth control may help you manage certain side effects of fibroids, there’s a caveat: fibroids are very responsive to estrogen, which means that taking birth control can actually make your tumors grow larger. For this reason, you’ll need to discuss your options with your doctors carefully. A larger fibroid tumor may cause you to experience a worsening of symptoms, canceling out the temporary relief delivered by the estrogen in your birth control pills.

Birth Control Can Help Prevent Fibroids

If you already have uterine fibroids, taking birth control could make your tumors increase in size. But if you haven’t yet been diagnosed, certain birth controls (especially those with lower doses of estrogen) may reduce your fibroid risk!

Choosing the right birth control when you have fibroids can be complicated, so it’s crucial to review all your options with your fibroid specialist. Feel free to reach out to Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee to schedule a consultation on all your fibroid treatment options.

Why Location Matters When it Comes to Fibroids

If you’ve been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, it means you have abnormal growths (made up of muscle cells and fibrous tissues) in your uterus. These fibroids are non-cancerous, and can vary in size and location. And while fibroids in any location have the potential to cause uncomfortable side effects, fibroids in certain locations will affect your ability to conceive more than others. 

Fibroids that grow mainly  away from the uterine cavity are called subserosal. Fibroids within the muscle wall are called intramural. Fibroids that grow into the uterine cavity are called submucosal. While having fibroids doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant, submucosal and intramural fibroids can make it difficult to become pregnant or carry your child to term. Pregnant women usually wait to begin treatment until after they’ve delivered, but if you’re having trouble conceiving, seeking immediate treatment is a good idea.

Obviously, a fibroid that is inside the uterine cavity (submucosal) is most likely to impact conception, but large masses in any location can also cause problems. In fact, a submucosal fibroid can make it 70% harder for a woman to get pregnant!  Large fibroids take a toll on fertility in a variety of ways: they can change the shape of your uterus and cervix, or they can block or slow down the movement of a man’s sperm or a fertilized embryo. They can also block your fallopian tubes from releasing eggs, or affect the quality and thickness of your uterine lining. 

For all these reasons, women who know they have fibroids should consult with their doctors before trying to get pregnant. Even if immediate treatment is not necessary, knowing the size and location of your fibroids will help you make informed decisions throughout your conception and pregnancy journey. It’s also important to let your fibroid specialist know about future family planning, as the course of treatment he or she recommends may differ based on your short and long term pregnancy goals.

Talking to Your Partner About Fibroids

Results after UFEWhen you have fibroids, sex with your partner can hurt. This is especially true if you have large and or numerous fibroids. Not surprisingly, this pain may make you less excited about sex—you may want to stop having intercourse altogether. In other instances, pain may not be the only problem. Depending on the size or location of your fibroid, these tumors may make you appear to have gained weight, or even look slightly pregnant, possibly impacting your self-esteem and feelings of attractiveness.

If your partner feels personally rejected because he or she doesn’t understand what you’re going through, the change in intimacy may become a source of conflict, If, however, you are able to have an open, honest discussion about uterine fibroids and painful intercourse, you’ll help your partner understand what you’re experiencing, and hopefully become intimate together on an even deeper level.

Painful Intercourse with Uterine Fibroids

Every woman has different fibroid symptoms, but extremely painful sex is often associated with fibroids. That pain may be caused by pressure from the fibroids, vaginal dryness, or even hormonal changes. Even harder to explain to your partner? Your fibroid pain likely isn’t consistent. Certain positions, and certain times in the month, will affect the discomfort you experience, but this can also make it harder for your partner to know how best to approach intimacy.

4 Tips to Use When Discussing Fibroids and Sex with Your Partner

It’s important to remember: your partner might not understand what you’re dealing with or why you’re avoiding getting physical—that’s why open communication is crucial. Explain to your partner what you feel during sex, or if you’re just anxious about sex in general. Tell your partner how you are feeling, and make sure you discuss his or her feelings, too.

We know that talking about sex and intimacy can be uncomfortable, so we’re here to help. Here are a few suggestions for making this conversation a little less difficult to jump into:

Before you sit down to talk, do your research: Your partner will probably have lots of questions about your fibroid diagnosis and how it will continue to affect your body. To give the most effective and honest answers, be prepared with knowledge. Your fibroid specialists should be happy to help you with this portion of your experience.

Once you know enough about your condition, it’s time to get talking. You should: 

  1. Choose the ‘when’ wisely: Don’t start a conversation when either of you is upset or short on time. Make a date to sit down and talk, letting your partner know you want to discuss your health in a private, relaxed setting.
  2. Open Up: Be as real as possible about all the symptoms you are experiencing. Then you and your partner can try to determine the best way to help manage your symptoms and support you through your experiences.
  3. See the Other Side: Of course, you are the one dealing with a serious medical condition, but it’s important to recognize that your partner may be frightened as well. Make sure to really listen to what your partner is feeling or experiencing in the wake of your diagnosis.
    Moving forward: Fibroid Treatments

While there are several surgical treatments available for uterine fibroids, women who eventually wish to become pregnant may prefer a non-surgical treatment that won’t impact the uterus. While it’s important to review all treatment options with your doctor, make sure that you and your health care provider discuss Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), one alternative to surgery.

During UFE, a thin catheter is threaded into the blood vessels that feed the fibroid. Then, tiny, medical-grade plastic particles are injected into the blood vessels, blocking the blood supply and causing the fibroid to shrink and die.

Ideal UFE candidates:

  • Have fibroids that are causing heavy bleeding. 
  • Have fibroids that are causing pain or pressing on the bladder or rectum. 
  • Don’t want to have a hysterectomy. 
  • Don’t want to have children in the future

 

According to recent studies, one year after having UFE, women with painful uterine fibroids saw an improvement in their sex lives and significant symptom relief a year. To learn if you’re a candidate for UFE, we invite you to schedule a consultation at our Houston Fibroids office.

#WCW: Evette Dionne is a Fibroid Health Warrior

As Houston fibroid specialists determined to deliver minimally invasive treatment options for women, we often have an uphill battle. Many doctors don’t inform their patients that Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is one of their  treatment options (it is a procedure that starves fibroids of blood and oxygen, effectively killing them, through injections delivered via catheter.) Because not all doctors are on our team, many women with fibroids believe they must be treated by surgery. This week, we’ve discovered one woman who, after her own diagnosis, joined our 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

For several years now Ms. Dionne, who happens to be editor in chief of Bitch Media, has been dealing with fibroids–non cancerous tumors that develop in and on the uterus. During that time, 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. 

 Rcently, 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. 

Finding the Right Balance Between Monitoring and Removing Fibroids
Diagnosed in 2015 with fibroids, Dionne tells Prevention magazine that she visits her gynecologist every six months for an ultrasound 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. 

Six Problems That Could Hurt Your Fertility

Regardless of whether you want to have a child, your fertility is an important part of female health. It’s therefore so important to understand medical conditions and external factors that could cause female infertility. Here are six of the top culprits to explore for possible causes if you’re dealing with infertility: 

1. Problems with fallopian tubespain from uterine fibroids

When functioning properly, your fallopian tubes act as a highway for your eggs. During ovulation, eggs travel down the tubes; if an egg meets sperm at the end of its journey, it can become a fertilized embryo. If, however, your fallopian tubes become blocked or damaged, sperm can’t meet your eggs. And even if the sperm and egg do connect, the fertilized embryo will have a harder time travelling to your uterus for implantation.  While many things can cause damage to your fallopian tubes, PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) and STIs or STDs are often responsible.

2. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition in which endometrium, the tissue that’s normally found in the lining of your uterus grows outside the uterus. Often, this misplaced tissue develops in your ovaries or fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can be painful. It affects your menstrual cycle and, often, your ability to conceive.

3. PCOS

PCOS, or Polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a hormonal disorder that causes your ovaries to become enlarged and covered in cysts at their edges. Another characteristic of this condition is that women produce more male hormones than is typical. Approximately 10% of women are affected by PCOS. Symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, obesity, excess hair growth, higher risks of diabetes and acne.

 4. Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in or on your uterus. Fibroids can develop inside your uterus, on its lining, inside its wall or even on the outer surface of your uterus. Fibroids can affect your menstrual cycle, your ability to conceive and your ability to carry a successful pregnancy to term.

5. Thyroid conditions

Thyroid hormones regulate, among other things, fertility and pregnancy in as much as they are a major part of human growth and development. Hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid hormone levels are low, can stop your ovaries from releasing eggs for fertilization.

 
6. Egg problems

Every woman has a different number and quality of eggs that may be produced by her ovaries. Some women have fairly low egg counts. Other women have plenty of eggs, but the ones she has are not up to the task of creating a baby.  Egg count and quality decrease with age, so women with advanced maternal age may be inclined to check their egg quality when grappling with infertility.

 

Unfortunately, many different causes of infertility manifest with the same symptom—irregular or heavy menstrual cycles. In many cases, you can only pinpoint the cause of your infertility by ruling out all other possibilities. If you are concerned that fibroids may be the cause of your infertility issues, schedule a consultation with Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee in our Houston area fibroid clinic today.

 

 

Can I Slow Down Fibroid Growth?

Many women with fibroids have questions: why did I get this kind of tumor? How fast will it grow? What can I do to slow down or stop the growth in my fibroids?

While we don’t know what causes women to develop fibroids, we do have an understanding of what these tumors are and what factors may increase your risk of developing fibroids. We also know certain factors that affect fibroid growth. To help you gain a better understanding, let’s start at the beginning, with a basic explanation of fibroids.

This x-ray reveals a fairly large uterine fibroid

What are Fibroids? 

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in the wall of your uterus. Fibroids can grow alone or in clusters; they vary in size, from microscopically small to rare cases where they grow to the size of fully-developed fetus.

Fibroid symptoms can include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Painful periods
  • Bloating in the pelvic region
  • Lower back pain
  • Painful sex
  • Frequent need to pee

What Can Speed Up Fibroid Growth?
While your genes will play a role in how quickly fibroids grow, hormones like estrogen and progesterone also affect the growth of these tumors. Without these two hormones, fibroids are unable to grow which is why, in the past, causing a woman to experience menopause was considered the only cure for fibroids. Thankfully, we now know better and can offer women less dramatic treatment options. 

How Big Will My Fibroids Become?

It’s difficult to know how big a fibroid tumor will become–growth varies from person to person, predict how big a fibroid will grow or what causes a fibroid to grow rapidly. In some cases, fibroids even disappear without treatment. This however, is not common: most fibroids will grow larger unless you opt for medical intervention. 

So, just how big will your fibroids become? Honestly, the size limit is based only on your body’s ability to expand. Fibroids can stretch and enlarge your uterus to accommodate their own growth. In fact, some fibroids get so big that you appear to be in the second trimester of pregnancy! 

In extreme cases, fibroids will grow so large that doctors can only treat them with surgery. For this reason, it’s important to begin researching fibroid treatment options as soon as you receive a diagnosis. 

Can I Slow Down Fibroid Growth?
Certain steps, like adopting  a fibroid-friendly diet, may slow the growth of these tumors. Research suggests that dairy products like milk, cheese and ice cream may inhibit fibroid development. Green tea has also been shown to slow fibroid growth and, in some cases, even kill off existing fibroid cells. 

For some women, the hormones in certain forms of birth control can help slow fibroid development. 

When it comes to interventions that simply slow down fibroid development, there are no guarantees…that’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that we have better treatment options available. Instead of slowing fibroid growth, interventional radiologists like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee are able to use a method known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization to cut off the fibroid’s supply of blood and oxygen. This minimally invasive treatment causes fibroids to shrink and, eventually, die. Want to know if you’re a good candidate for UFE? Just reach out to our Houston area team and we’ll be happy to set you up with a comprehensive consultation.