Author: Houston Fibroids

#WCW: How to Talk About Fibroid Fears

Let’s face it: it’s hard to talk about fibroids. Now, as fibroid specialists in Houston, we know that a fibroid diagnosis doesn’t have to change your entire life. But we also know how scary it can be to learn you have tumors in your uterus—even though they aren’t cancerous. So that’s why his week’s Woman Crush Wednesday is our choice of honoree—she’s getting very real (in a very public way) about her fears over a fibroid diagnosis. Plus, she’s scoring attention nationwide, making it easier for all women to talk about fibroids. Here’s to you, Shay Johnson, for sharing your fibroid story on Love & Hip Hop. And for your new role as the Fibroid Fighters Ambassador!

Spreading the Word  Shay Johnson helps women choose UFE vs hysteretcomy for fibroid treatment

Recently, the Fibroid Fighters association named Shay Johnson as a brand ambassador. Fibroid Fighters is a non-profit group with a mission that’s close to our heart. Their goals include:

  • Educating people about how fibroids cause health, social and economic damages
  • Focusing on research and treatment advances
  • Spreading the word about minimally invasive treatments like uterine fibroid embolization (UFE)

In announcing Shay’s new role, CEO Yan Katsnelson said that the star’s “Willingness to share her ordeal with fibroids will help bring attention to this health epidemic. Women need hear from others that have suffered from fibroids and learn about non-surgical treatments such as Uterine Fibroid Embolism (UFE) that preserve the uterus and can relieve their painful symptoms.”  And those goals are something Shay’s been all about. For a long time now.

Women Need to Talk About Fibroids

When discussing her new role, Shay said, ““At one point, when I had to say the word, fibroids, I was terrified because I had memories of my symptoms and what I had to go through.”

And that was clear when, a few years back, Shay took to her social media accounts, sharing images of her in a hospital bed. She’d been admitted for a blood transfusion. But, at the time, she didn’t explain why she needed that transfusion.

Then, a little while later, she changed all that. Shay explained to her fellow cast member, Michelle Pooch, “There’s a few things going on with me medically that I haven’t told you about. I’m not dying, [but] I do have a medical condition called fibroids.”

In fact, she continued, she has two fibroids—one of them that has grown so large, it’s now the size of the grapefruit. And this, it turns out, was the explanation for last year’s transfusion.

As Shay explained to Michelle, one of her fibroid symptoms is that she has, “heavy menstrual cycles for longer than 15 days, [and] on top of that, I’ve been fainting because I’m losing so much blood.”

Because of her severe symptoms, Shay’s doctor suggested she remove her fibroids surgically (myomectomy.) In telling Michelle about this suggestion, Shay admitted that she was scared—both about her upcoming surgery and about what her monthly periods would look like afterwards.

Providing Women with Other Fibroid Treatment Options

Like many African-American women (who are disproportionately affected by fibroids), Shay opted to treat her fibroids surgically. And that may well be the treatment option that’s best for her. But, many women aren’t told they have non-surgical options, too. That’s why, today, Shay says, “I went through a myomectomy which they removed the fibroids, instead of a hysterectomy that would have removed my uterus.”

Now she knows why we all have to talk about fibroids. She says, “I realized that…the more we speak up about fibroids, the more awareness we can bring to women who are going through the same issue. The more awareness we raise means we can help prevent the miscarriages, the extended periods, and the pelvic pain women experience by having better treatment options.”

Of course, that includes procedures like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), which can help women with severe fibroid symptoms. Typically, the relief they experience will be equal (or even superior to) that of women who’ve had fibroid surgery.

But, in order to experience relief and avoid surgery, women need to know their options. So, while we commend Shay in this post, we also ask for help spreading the word. We want you to know that there are non-surgical treatment options. And we invite you to explore them with a fibroids consultation in our office. Now, will you help us help women #ask4UFE? If you do, you just might earn a spot in our #WCW hall of fame!


4 Ways Fibroids Can Impact Pregnancy

If you have fibroids, you may worry about future pregnancy. Uterine fibroids aren’t usually cancerous, which is good news. But they grow in your womb, and they’re very common during your reproductive years. Fibroids develop as single tumors or as multiple growths. Depending on the type, size, and number of fibroids you have, they could affect your pregnancy. And, studies suggest, they could also impact your health in ways that don’t involve your growing fetus.

Continue reading “4 Ways Fibroids Can Impact Pregnancy”

WCW: Real Housewife Raising Fibroids Awareness

While uterine fibroids are extremely common, fibroids awareness is very low. Because of that, many of us are working to raise fibroids awareness. That includes Kamala Harris, who sponsored a bill to build understanding and offer better fibroid care in this country. It’s also true of groups like The White Dress Project, who want women to live life free from fibroid symptoms. And now, it’s also true of Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey-Hill. Which is why she’s our #WomanCrushWednesday this week!

Continue reading “WCW: Real Housewife Raising Fibroids Awareness”

Forget Fibroid Myths & Ask these 7 Fibroid Doctor Questions

One of the biggest problems in women’s health is myths that keep you from asking the right fibroid doctor questions. Even though 70-80% of women can have fibroids during their life, many women don’t know what uterine fibroids are, and sometimes don’t learn about all of their treatment options. Here are a few myths and misconceptions about fibroids, explained by our interventional radiologists who specialize in treating fibroids. After you’ve read through those myths, discover the most important questions to ask your fibroid specialists!

Myths about uterine fibroidsMyth 1: Fibroids, Tumors, Polyps, and Cysts are the Same

In a recent blog post, we discussed the differences and similarities between fibroids and polyps in the uterus. But, you may hear other similar terms, like tumor or cyst. Many people don’t know whether these terms mean the same thing, or they all refer to different conditions.

  • A fibroid is a benign growth and is rarely associated with cancer. These growths develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. You may hear a fibroid referred to as a “fibroid tumor” even though it is benign.
  • A polyp is made of endometrium tissue and is usually benign.
  • A cyst will develop on the ovaries and can be malignant.
  • The phrase “uterine tumors” typically signifies uterine fibroids, and are benign. Uterine cancer, however, refers to a malignant growth of cells in the uterus.

Myth 2: A Fibroid Tumor is Cancerous

Fibroids are almost always benign and rarely turn into cancer. The difference in symptoms between cancer and a benign fibroid will help your doctor diagnose a growth as malignant. Cancer is sometimes diagnosed during surgery for what is thought to be benign fibroid tumors.

Myth 3: Fibroids Have Consistent, Defined Symptoms

There is no one symptom that will alert you to the fact that you have uterine fibroids. Many women have uterine fibroids at some point during their life, but most don’t have any symptoms. The most common symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged periods, or pelvic pain, but there are other symptoms that women can experience.

Myth 4: Surgery is Your Best Option

If you don’t experience symptoms, treatment isn’t necessary, and many fibroids will shrink after menopause. There are a variety of treatment options available if you do experience symptoms. For women who want a non-surgical alternative, want to preserve their uterus, or want a quicker recovery period, Uterine Fibroid Embolization may be recommended.

Myth 5: Fibroids Continue to Grow, and will Grow Back after Treatment

Fibroids typically grow in alignment with hormone levels, which is why symptoms worsen during menstruation. This is also the reason fibroids may grow during pregnancy, but shrink after menopause. We cut off the existing fibroid’s blood flow during UFE, and it is very rare for them to regrow. In one study, only 5% of women needed additional treatment after UFE.

7 Fibroid Doctor Questions to Ask Our Specialists

Now that we’ve debunked the major fibroid myths, we want you to get the most out of your visit to our Houston fibroid practice. So here are the Top 7 fibroid doctor questions to bring up during your visit. (With a few basic answers). We hope they will help guide you towards your best treatment options.


The truth is, we don’t really know why. But we do know that African-American women have a higher risk for fibroids. And that they’re most common before you reach menopause.


Actually, there are four types of fibroids, classified by location.


If you’re seeking treatment, you probably know this already. But fibroids can affect your periods, your sex life and your fertility.


Our team of specialists are Interventional radiologists. We offer minimally-invasive, image-guided treatments for fibroids.


As we said before, forget the fibroid myth that surgery is your only option. There are other ways to manage fibroids, including lifestyle changes and UFE.


With UFE, you experience fibroid relief. You can also avoid scarring and hospital stays. Plus, there’s no need for  general anesthesia and a shorter recovery period. Most importantly, you can keep your uterus and avoid symptoms. All while enjoying quick symptom relief. 


With a few days of your treatment, symptoms should improve. But remember, you’ll also be recovering from UFE. And a full recovery could take up to 2 weeks. Then, over the weeks that follow, you should see symptoms–and your fibroids–disappear.

Ready to forget those harmful fibroid myths and get answers to your important treatment questions? Our Houston fibroid specialists are here to help. Simply reach out to our office and schedule a fibroid treatment consultation. We’ll help you understand your diagnosis. And, together, we’ll decide if you’re a good candidate for UFE.

Sources: Mayo Clinic


Black Maternal Health, Fibroid Treatments and Risk

If you’re exploring fibroid treatments, you’re not alone. Up to 80 percent of adult black women have fibroids. (That’s a rate almost three times higher than white, Hispanic or Asian women.) Now, these muscular growths aren’t usually cancerous. But they can drastically affect your quality of life. In fact, women with fibroids experience pain, heavy bleeding and fertility loss. And here’s the worst part. Many black women can’t access quality healthcare. So they never explore fibroid treatments. For that reason, many women choose hysterectomy (removing their uterus). Even when less invasive treatments work.  And we believe that has to change. Jasmine Gomez fights for information on fibroid treatments

The problem gets worse when it comes to black maternal health. Like their increased fibroid rates, black mothers die from complications related to pregnancy at roughly two to three times the rate of other women . And that’s regardless of their income or education levels. For that reason, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have declared Black Maternal Health week, in an attempt to fight disparity in maternal health outcomes. And it’s also why we’re sharing stories from black women who struggled to access equal health care. Because we hope to bring equity to fibroid treatments and all areas of healthcare.

Seeking Equal Healthcare for Black Women

Jasmine Gomez is one such woman. She told Women’s Health magazine that, in her 20s, she wanted to donate her eggs. But during the process doctors discovered nine large fibroids. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, she said. After all, she says, “My mom dealt with uterine fibroids herself (she had surgery to remove hers when I was younger, but we never really talked about it.”

That lack of information meant Jasmine didn’t know much about fibroids. “I didn’t know that you are more at risk of developing fibroids if you have a family member who also has them. I also didn’t know that fibroids are more common and severe in African American women than those of other ethnicities,” she says.

Trouble with Fibroid Treatments

Because she lacked key information, Jasmine’s large fibroids needed to be removed surgically. And that’s when things got really bad. During surgery, doctors discovered more fibroids. They tried to remove them all. But the surgery was taking too long, and Jasmine lost lots of blood. So they closed her up. And left behind fibroids that were deeply embedded in her uterus. Their advice? To let the remaining tumors get bigger. And get surgery again when they caused problems.

Jasmine wasn’t ok with that advice. She couldn’t face a future of constant surgery. So she got to research, and decided to have a partial hysterectomy. Now, that’s not the right outcome for every woman. But it’s one that made sense for her lifestyle. And one she made armed with knowledge. Which is why she says, “I wish I’d been better informed about fibroids when I first learned I had them.” And why we’re sharing more information about these tumors today, to honor Jasmine as our Woman Crush of the week.


Fibroids: A Common Problem

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

Recently, a study in the Journal of Women’s Health suggested two possible explanations for the increased rate of fibroids in black women. So, what were the culprits? Douching and using perineal talc. (Some women apply perineal talc to sanitary napkins, underwear, or directly to their skin. It’s supposed to reduce chafing and odor. But it can be very dangerous for your health.) We already knew that exposure to talcum powder could increase the risk for ovarian cancer. But now, research suggests it also raises the risk for fibroid growth.

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


Exploring Fibroid Treatments

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

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

Expanding Fibroid Treatment Options

That’s where health care activism can make a difference. We see exciting developments in government already. And say thank you to Senator Kamala Harris. Her bill to expand fibroid research is a great step. (And the reason Jasmine Gomez bravely opened up about her condition.) Our doctors strongly believe that investing in women’s health care is a great way to help achieve healthcare equality. For ALL women.

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

7 Fibroid Facts Black Women Need to Know

As we just mention, we’re on a mission to spread fibroid information. After all, information is one of the best tools we have when fighting fibroids. So check out this 7 point list, from author Porsha Monique, designed to help raise fibroid awareness.

  1. Fibroids are especially common in African-American women.
  2. They are the number one cause of your heavy periods. Heavy periods could be defined as having to change your tampon or pad every hour. Or always needing backup period protection.
  3. Uterine growths are also the #1 reason for hysterectomy. But learning your options can reduce the number of avoidable surgeries.
  4. Too many times, women with fibroids are told to “watch” them. But this leads to fibroid growth and limits your treatment options.
  5. Non-invasive treatments such as UFE can help. UFE is performed by Interventional Radiologists like our Houston specialists.
  6. Compared to fibroid surgery, UFE is less invasive and less expensive. You won’t need to stay in hospital and you’ll enjoy a shorter recovery.
  7. UFE has a very high success rate (90%). Fibroid treatments like this offer symptom relief with fewer risks. And, you can keep your uterus so you don’t enter menopause.

Want to see if UFE could help you find fibroid symptom relief? Schedule an appointment with our fibroid treatment experts. We can review your options and see if you’re a good candidate for Uterine Fibroid Embolization.

Sources: White House Briefing Room, Rolling Out Magazine, Journal of Academic Radiology

How UAE Can Stop Postpartum Bleeding and Save Fertility

After giving birth, some women hemorrhage and doctors need to stop the postpartum bleeding. And quickly, or the new mother could die. Often, doctors perform emergency hysterectomies, saving the mother’s lives but costing them future futility. Thankfully, now, a new study suggests a better alternative: UAE (Uterine Artery Embolization.)

What is UAE? Fibroids can impact your fetal development

UAE is also called UFE—uterine fibroid embolization—because we use this procedure to treat fibroids. During UAE, we use a slender, flexible tube (catheter) to inject small particles into your uterine arteries, stopping the flow of blood. If you have fibroids, this starves the tumors of their blood supply, and they shrink and die. But if you have postpartum bleeding, it can stop uterine hemorrhaging, and may prevent the need for hysterectomy (removal of the uterus.)

Can UAE Stop Postpartum Bleeding?

A new study from Emory University’s School of medicine suggests it can! Led by Dr. Janice Newsome, researchers learned that, right now, women with postpartum bleeding are 60% more likely to get a hysterectomy than UAE. And that’s a problem, because “UAE is safer and has an easier recovery than hysterectomy,” she said at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s virtual annual meeting.

She also noted that postpartum bleeding is common. Each year, about 100,000 women in this country develop this condition. And postpartum bleeding is still the leading cause of global maternal mortality.

Currently, most women are treated with a blood transfusion. But the second most common way to stop postpartum bleeding is to give women a hysterectomy.

UAE vs Hysterectomy After Delivery

Here are the stats according to Dr. Newsome’s team. For every 1000 women with postpartum bleeding, 116 received transfusions. About 20 of those women received hysterectomies, while only 13 women were treated with UAE.

While a hysterectomy can stop postpartum bleeding, it also comes with serious, permanent side effects—plus instant loss of fertility for these new moms. Plus, after hysterectomy, moms were twice as likely to face long hospital stays. (Not to mention hefty hospital bills!)

Even more worrying? Hispanic women in particular were more likely to receive a hysterectomy. As were women in rural communities. Or those who were Medicaid patients.

In response to these findings, Dr. Newsome suggested adding an interventional radiologist to the hospital maternal medicine team. She hopes that will help reduce the rate of hysterectomy for postpartum bleeding going forward.

Choosing UAE in Houston

While our team of interventional radiologists doesn’t offer postpartum care, we do offer UAE. And we’ve helped many women with fibroids avoid hysterectomy, while relieving their painful symptoms.

Are you looking for fibroid relief? And hoping to keep your uterus and avoid hysterectomy? We’re here today! Reach out to our team today and schedule a consultation. We can help you decide if you’re a good candidate for UFE!

SOURCES: Janice Newsome, MD, Emory University, Atlanta; Society of Interventional Radiology


3 Ways to Balance Hormones (and Lower Fibroid Risk!)

No one knows exactly why women develop fibroids, but we all want to lower fibroid risk. And we do know that certain factors can affect your risk: family history, race and your hormone levels. One specific hormone that seems tied to fibroid growth? Estrogen. Which is why women with estrogen dominance are particularly at risk for fibroids. And it’s also why balancing your hormone levels may help prevent existing fibroids from getting bigger, or even keep new ones from developing.

What Is Estrogen Dominance?

If your body has more estrogen than progesterone, you are estrogen dominant. Your body is supposed to have both hormones in order to function properly, but they should be balanced. When they aren’t, it can spell trouble for your body.

Some women’s bodies just produce more estrogen; others are  exposed to the hormone from their environments. And, for many women, having extra estrogen isn’t a big deal, because their bodies break it down in order to balance out hormone levels. But for women whose bodies can’t do that, carrying around extra estrogen can take a major toll on their health.

Symptoms of estrogen dominance include:

·         PMS

·         Weight gain

·         Dense breasts

·         Fibroids

·         Endometriosis

·         Heavy periods

·         Fatigue

·         Reduced sex drive

·         Fertility problems


Diagnosing Estrogen Dominance woman exercising

Depending on your age and symptoms, your doctor will likely use one of three tests to determine your estrogen levels.

A blood test usually works for women who still menstruate. But, for menopausal women, a saliva test is usually more accurate. And a dried urine test is often the best choice for women who may be out of balance because their bodies can’t break down estrogen.

If your body is estrogen dominant, it’s likely a result of: genetics, environment or diet. And because two of the three most common causes are lifestyle based, easy lifestyle changes can often get your body back in balance!

How can I rebalance my hormones?

Before you even think about medication, let’s look at some everyday changes that can make a major difference in your hormone levels.

1.       Diet

Many foods, especially meat and dairy products, contain added hormones. To help avoid these additional stressors, try switching to organic foods—especially when it comes to your meat products. You should also increase your fiber intake, and try adding broccoli, kale, and cauliflower, since all of those veggies can help your body flush out excess estrogen.

Also, your hormone levels can change if the good bacteria in your gut gets out of whack. So, for that reason, probiotic rich foods such as yogurts can help balance your hormones and lower fibroid risk.

2.       Clean house

Want to know a dirty secret? The containers in your home could be messing with your hormones. In fact, many women can improve their hormone balance just by banishing plastic food containers and water bottles from their lives. Bonus? It’s better for the environment, as well!


3.       Chill out

Stress can be a major source of hormonal imbalance. But you can’t just talk about stress: you have to actively fight it. First, work on getting more sleep (at least seven hours a night.) Then, make sure to schedule in you-time every day, whether it’s a long bath at the end of the day, or a quiet tea in bed each morning. Yoga practice may also help manage stress and help you live in the moment—a great step towards beating back stress.

Other Ways to Lower Fibroid Risk

Regular exercise may help prevent fibroids from developing or growing. This works in two ways: exercise manages your stress. Plus, it helps you maintain a healthy weight. And carrying extra pounds can throw your hormones into imbalance.

Making sleep a priority works in similar ways. When you’re well rested, it’s easier to manage stress. Plus, getting adequate sleep is linked to lower weights. Meaning, once again, hormones are back in balance. And fibroid risk is lower.

Of course, not every case of hormone imbalance can be managed with lifestyle changes. And that’s where your doctor can help you explore medical options. But, since all of these changes are good for you anyway, they’re a great jumping-off point if you think your hormones are out of whack. Just remember, even with balanced hormones, you may end up with fibroids. And if you do, come see our Houston-area fibroid experts. We’ll be happy to help you out!

Sources: Mayo Clinic

This is What Black Women Must Know About Fibroid Surgery

Fibroid surgery is potentially dangerous, but sadly not uncommon. After all, 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. (Compare that to other groups of women, where the rate drops to 50% by age 50.)

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 may involve 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. Because of these risks, the FDA’s deputy director for science advises against this procedure. Says Dr.
William Maisel, “In general, the procedure should not be performed.”

Morcellators are Still In Use

While no longer recommended, we know that some women in this country still have laparoscopic surgeries with morcellators. And many of the women receiving these operations don’t even know their risks! Plus, the FDA now says you shouldn’t use the power morcellator without a cell containment system in place.

Now, that’s an important safety update. But, while reviewing morcellator safety, the FDA heard testimony from injured women–and 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 (or come yourself) for a fibroid treatment consultation. 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.

Sources: US Food and Drug Administration

WCW: When fibroids return, and Penguins join the fight!

You can treat non-cancerous uterine tumors, but often, these fibroids return. And that’s a big problem for many women, because fibroids are very common. In fact, about 80% of all women  develop one or more fibroids by the age of 50. While that statistic may seem surprising, here’s something you may find even more unexpected .Fibroids are a problem in the animal kingdom, too! And that’s why, this week, we’ve named Bette the African penguin as our Woman Crush of the Week!

When Fibroids Return for Animals

This week, we’re honoring Bette, an 18-inch African penguin living at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA. A few years back, she had to have surgery to remove a mass from her abdomen. At that time, doctors also removed several fibroid tumors from her uterus.

While any kind of uterine surgery can be complicated, the process is particularly trying on a penguin. The compact bird’s body is protected by thick feathers (her surgeons used a mustache clipper to get through and make an incision) and three separate layers of skin and blubber, each of which required its own stitches.

Thankfully, Bette recovered well from her surgery. Just days after the procedure, she was hopping around her recovery enclosure, ready to play with toys. Her full recovery took about 10 days, at which point Bette returned to her long time penguin mate, Sidney, and their babies, Sunshine and D.J.

Treating Fibroids in Houston

Unfortunately, human patients don’t bounce back from surgery as quickly as penguins. In fact, according to recent studies, women who treat their fibroids via hysterectomy will face long term health consequences, including an increased risk of obesity and heart disease!

But that’s not all. Even if you choose myomectomy, a surgery that, like Bette’s, removes individual tumors, the fibroids return after treatment quite frequently. Plus, you still have to face general anesthesia, as well as a hospital stay and an extended recovery. And, during that time, you will likely miss work and other regular activities.

So, that’s the bad news. But here’s the good news. Unlike penguins, humans with fibroids have access to non-surgical fibroid treatment options. Minimally invasive fibroid treatments like embolization make for quicker recovery times with less complications down the road. And, while some women’s fibroids return after UFE, the revision rates are the same or slightly better than with myomectomy. In other words, whether you have surgery or UFE, your risk of fibroid return is the same. Making the non-surgical option very attractive, as long as you’re a good candidate for UFE.

So, if you’re dealing with a fibroid diagnosis and want to explore minimally invasive treatment plans, reach out to Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee, your Houston area fibroid specialists! We’re here to help you avoid surgery when possible. In that way, even if your fibroids return, you won’t be faced with a second surgery and increased risk for complications.

Sources: European Radiology Journal

UFE Gives Better Fibroid Outcomes, Study Proves

If you want a treatment with better fibroid outcomes, this read is for you! Because, according to a new Mayo Clinic study, minimally invasive uterine fibroid treatments offer better results than surgical options. That’s exciting news for women who want to avoid hysterectomy. And for those of us who seek to understand fibroid risks to deliver better fibroid outcomes.

Why do women get fibroids?

We still don’t know why women develop fibroids. But understanding different risk factors can help us target fibroid treatments. Recently, at the 2021 Fibroid Summit, presenters talked about factors that increase fibroid risk.

Admitting there’s not one trigger, several potential risk factors were discussed. First, presenters noted that vitamin D deficiency and obesity increase your fibroid risk. Also, changes in your microbiome and being extra responsive to estrogen were noted as fibroid risks. Finally, in-utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol (des) turns out to be a major risk for fibroids. (This is a type of synthetic estrogen hormone. Today, we know it’s very dangerous. But between the 1940s and 1970s, many women were given this drug to prevent miscarriages and other pregnancy complications. So, if your mother took des while pregnant, your fibroid risk increases.)

Now, just because you’re at risk for fibroids doesn’t mean you’ll develop these non-cancerous tumors. In fact, many women develop fibroids with no known risk factors. Still, whatever your fibroid risk, it’s important to know you have several treatment options. And they don’t have to involve surgery.

UFE Fibroid Outcomes

According to a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who treated fibroids with UAE (uterine artery embolization) were less likely to need a second procedure than women who were treated with MRI focused ultrasound surgery (MRgFUS). 

Now, both treatments reduced women’s fibroid symptoms. But UFE offered better symptom reduction.

Of course, the study proved that both procedures were minimally invasive, Meaning they’re both great alternatives to hysterectomy. (That procedure requires the complete removal of your uterus.)

This is great news for all women, since fibroids lead to about 200,000 hysterectomies each year in this country. While hysterectomies can “cure” women of fibroids, removing your uterus increases your risk of long term health complications. And these include weight gain and heart disease.

Putting Women FIRSTT

What’s important about this study is that it finally, alternatives to hysterectomies. In this way, it’s easier to see which is minimally invasive treatment delivers the best fibroid outcomes. And in this study, called FIRSTT Fibroid Interventions: Reducing Symptoms Today and Tomorrow, Mayo Clinic, Duke University and University of California, San Francisco,  researchers compared MRgFUS to UAE to determine effectiveness.

During the study, 83 participants were randomly assigned to receive one of the two treatments. Over the next four years, researchers compared the fibroid outcomes for both. (Seventy women had MRgFUS and 62 had UAE.) Of the MRgFUS women, 30 percent underwent a second fibroid procedure. In comparison, only 13 percent of the UAE patients needed a second procedure.

Finding Better Fibroid Outcomes in Houston

For interventional radiologists like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee, this study is great news. What it proves to us, and to our patients, is that alternative hysterectomy treatments are effective. Plus, it shows that some are more effective than others. In this way, the study shows the importance of considering all your fibroid treatment options. In that way, when you decide to deal with your fibroid diagnosis, you’ll get great outcomes.

Ready to learn more about UAE? We’re here to help. Call our office and request an immediate appointment. We’ll help you find the treatment that’s best for you!


Sources: Mayo Clinic, Contemporary ObGyn  

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