Author: Houston Fibroids

#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.

Fibroids Infertility: What We Know

Before we get into Rachel’s story, a pause to discuss the science of this issue. According to findings in Contemporary OB/GYN, women with fibroids in their uterine cavity (submucosal) experience lower pregnancy and live birth rates. Women with intramural fibroids (growths that develop within the uterine walls) experience lower fertility rates. As such, the authors suggest women should treat their fibroids if they wish to have a baby. Still, they note that fibroids are the sole cause of infertility in just 2-3% of women.

Fibroids 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!

 

These 5 Fibroid Myths are Worth Forgetting

Fibroid myths are a big problem in this country. They force many women with fibroids into a hysterectomy, thinking there are no other treatment options. So, if you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids, here’s the truth you need to know.

With this diagnosis, you may experience side effects like heavy periods, pelvic pain and constipation. You may have difficulties becoming pregnant, or carrying a pregnancy to term. You will certainly want to talk to your doctors about all the treatment options that are available to you. Those are the facts. Now, here are the fictions that you need to dismiss:

MYTH #1: Untreated Fibroids Will Keep On Growing 

Some fibroids, if left alone, will keep on growing. In fact, some women who delay fibroid treatment end up with fibroids the size of a nine-month-old fetus. Or with 236 different growths, like this woman from Bengaluru. But that is not always the case. Many women with fibroids will not even realize it, because their tumors are tiny, stable in size, and cause no symptoms. Other fibroids may grow to a certain point and then stop growing altogether. And, on rare occasions, some fibroids will rupture, creating a medical emergency.

But here’s the tricky part: it’s hard to know what kind of growth pattern your fibroid will follow. For that reason, even if you decide to delay treatment, you will want to see your doctor regularly to monitor tumor development. (Make sure to get an ultrasound at each check-in, to track any growth.) And remember, the smaller your fibroid, the more treatment options available to you.

Fibroid MYTHs #2: Fibroids must be removed.

Fibroids that aren’t causing symptoms may not require any form of treatment, especially if you’ve completed your family or have no interest in becoming pregnant. If your fibroids are causing symptoms like heavy bleeding, severe pain or fertility problems, you’ll likely want to seek treatment, but surgeries like myomectomies (removal of the fibroid) or hysterectomies (removal of the uterus) are not your only options.

If you’ve decided to treat your fibroids, you may be able to undergo Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), a minimally invasive treatment option that shrinks your fibroids over time by blocking their blood flow. Not everyone is a candidate, but if you are looking for a treatment option with little downtime and no hospital stays, it’s worth exploring with your interventional radiologist.

Fibroid MYTH #3: Taking medication can make fibroids disappear.

Nonsurgical fibroid treatments, like UFE, are sometimes an option. And some other treatment options, like progesterone-based pills or shots, or certain birth controls, can lessen fibroid symptoms like heavy bleeding. Some drugs may even help shrink your fibroids over time, but the benefits will disappear as soon as you get off the meds. Additionally, several fibroid medications have recently been connected to other, more serious, health complications

MYTH #4: Menopause Cures Fibroids

While many women will experience relief from fibroids after the onset of menopause, that’s not the case for everyone. In fact, if you decide to undergo hormone replacement therapy to manage menopause symptoms, you may even see new fibroid development!

Postmenopausal women can still require treatment for fibroids. And for many of these women, who have completed their families,  a nonsurgical approach like UFE will be the ideal treatment option.

MYTH #5: Treating Fibroids Hurts

Some women worry that treating fibroids causes more pain. Now, that’s true for some treatment options, because you will likely have pain following a hysterectomy. But if you choose UFE, or uterine fibroid embolization, your pain will be minimal. Plus, you’ll only need a local anesthetic and should spend less than 24 hours in hospital, usually avoiding any overnight stays.

If you are facing a fibroid diagnosis, don’t listen to the myths or rumors. Speak to your doctor about all the treatment options available, and make an informed decision based on the facts alone. Then, schedule a consultation with our Houston-area fibroid specialists. We’ll help you decide if UFE could help you find relief.

Cut out Trans Fat and Other Fibroids Diet Changes

Many women diagnosed with fibroids—non-cancerous tumors in the uterus—want pain relief and help with fibroid symptoms like long, heavy periods. But many women would also prefer to avoid medical interventions, especially right now, during this time of coronavirus uncertainty. So, as Houston area fibroid specialists, we are often asked: can everyday changes help me find relief from fibroid pain?

Well, here’s the deal: changes in diet, exercise and self-care won’t cure your fibroids. But, there are some tweaks you can make to your everyday routine that could keep your fibroids from getting bigger. And others may make your fibroid symptoms more manageable. Let’s take a closer look.

 

Fibroids Diet Changes to Help with Pain Relief

While the science on this matter is still not conclusive, evidence suggests that some foods can help shrink your fibroids, while others will potentially make them worse.

In a new study released in the journal of Fertility and Sterility, researchers studied over 80,000 pre-menopausal women between the ages of 24 and 42. Since their enrollment in 1989, researchers followed these women, monitoring their diets…and observing any fibroid development. During the 18-year study period, just over 8000 of these women developed fibroids. And what they discovered was interesting. While a generally high-fat diet didn’t appear to affect fibroid risk, there were two exceptions. Women who ate polyunsaturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids did develop fibroids more frequently. Some of the worst-offending foods include shortening, frozen dough, frozen pizza and microwave popcorn.

vitamins to fight fibroids

Research also suggests that highly caloric diets full of red meat and sugar can increase your risk of developing fibroids. In order to minimize your risk, then, you could try replacing red meats with leaner cuts like chicken or turkey. Better yet, you could try getting your protein from plant-based sources like beans or the new and widely-beloved Impossible or Beyond Burgers.

Some other problem foods to cut from your fibroids diet? Dairy can influence your hormones, so removing cheese, butter and even milk could help ease symptoms. Finally, getting rid of foods that trigger inflammation, including gluten and highly processed carbohydrates, may help you find relief.

Which Vitamins Can Help my Fibroid Symptoms?

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, getting Vitamin A from animal sources may help reduce your fibroid risk. Also, they found that eating more fruit can help lower your fibroid risk factor. The study further noted that African American women are far more likely to develop fibroids, and tend to have diets lower in these fibroid-fighting foods and vitamins.

If you want to add fibroid-fighting vitamins to your diet, try including:

  • Salmon, tuna, mackerel and other fatty fish. These are natural sources of fish oil, which has been linked to slowed fibroid growth. But even if they don’t help fibroid pain, their omega-3 fatty acid content could help your heart health.
  • Blueberries, plums, apples, cherries and other flavonoid-packed fruit
  • Broccoli, lettuce, spinach and other green veggies
  • Lemons, limes, oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Broad beans

Food-based vitamin sources are best for absorbing your fibroid-fighting vitamins. But, if making changes to your diet isn’t an option, vitamin supplements are still a great choice.

Exercise and Fibroids

New year's resolutions

Exercise in and of itself doesn’t stomp out fibroids. But getting your sweat on can reduce your BMI (body mass index.) It will also help eliminate fat stores in your body. And both of those factors will make it easier for your body to process estrogen hormones.

In turn, this can help lower your fibroid risk, since high levels of estrogen in the body can increase your risk of developing new fibroids, or of seeing your existing tumors get larger. So check out these workouts to try if you have fibroids.

Alternative Therapies

When you live with fibroids, you may develop anemia, severe pain, or problems when you pee. And you will need to address those issues with your doctor, But, when it comes to managing your chronic pain before fibroid treatment, The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has some helpful suggestions. Some top tips include acupuncture, which is an ancient Chinese therapy that uses small needles, inserted to your skin at specific accupoints. Another suggestion? Try yoga, a flowing, low-impact exercise that can boost your fitness while also offering you helpful breathing exercises. Additionally, deep breathing, meditation and therapeutic massage can all offer temporary relief. Still, in order to find permanent fibroid pain relief, you’ll need to treat your fibroids, not just your symptoms.

When fibroids are small, lifestyle changes can certainly help you keep fibroids in check so you can live your normal life. But when tumors grow large, or your symptoms are severe, targeted fibroid treatment will be a better option. Contact our Houston fibroid specialists today to see if our minimally invasive treatment protocol is your best option.

Sources: Health.Harvard.Edu, mayoclinic.org, Journal of Fertility and Sterility

 

Less Invasive Treatment of Uterine Fibroids Gives Equal (or Better!) Results

Fibroid surgery vs UFE: how can you choose? Well, we’ve got some exciting news that may help! 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 is a minimally invasive treatment. It 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.

Even so, we need women to know their options. But only 62% of women know about UFE, according to recent surveys. And, to this day, we still perform hysterectomies 65 times more often than UFE. Which is why, today, we want to help you understand the outcome differences of fibroid surgery vs UFE. So that you can make a truly informed treatment decision.

Study Compares Fibroid Surgery vs UFE and Other Treatments

In one recent 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.

Study Update: Minor Differences in 36 Month Follow Up

Researchers kept following the study participants, checking in with them after 24 and 36 months. Here’s what they found. Breaking down the statistics we mentioned earlier, of all the women, only 2 UFE recipients had received a second procedure by the 36-month checkup. In contrast, 7 myomectomy patients needed further surgery.

For both groups of women, the number of fibroids was still reduced by 50% at the 24 and 36-month follow-ups. (This, again, suggests that UFE yields equal or better results than fibroid surgery.) Still, one new finding gave a slight advantage to myomectomy. And that relates to tumor size.

At the 36-month check-in, women with myomectomy saw a greater decrease in their largest tumor size than women with UFE. At the same time, women who received UFE saw their uterine size decrease more than women in the other treatment group.

Updating the FEMME Study: 48 Months after Treatment of Uterine Fibroids

The longer researchers collect data, the more we learn about outcome differences between UFE and fibroid surgery. Recently, researchers released follow-up data that showed how women fared 4 years after UFE vs after myomectomy. And here’s what we’ve learned.

In that time period, 29% of myomectomy patients needed a follow-up procedure. In contrast, just 24% of the women in the UFE group needed further intervention. Even better news for women who wish to grow their families? Twelve women in the UFE group reported a healthy pregnancy after treatment of uterine fibroids. But in the myomectomy group? Only six women went on to have children. (The study authors do point out that women weren’t recruited to the study based on their desire to have kids. So the differences can also be linked to person preference. Still, it’s promising news for women who hope to get pregnant after UFE.)

Clearly, there is a lot to consider when deciding how to address your fibroid diagnosis. Need more information to explore all your treatment options? We’re here to help with treatment decisions. Schedule an appointment today with our experts, and we’ll help you decide if you’re a candidate for UFE treatment.

Sources: Contemporary OBGYN

Wear White July 1 for Equitable Health Care and Fibroid Awareness

It’s really hard to find equitable health care for black women with fibroids. In fact, 73 percent of Black women say their doctors never mention UFE, a minimally invasive fibroid treatment option. Even worse? Here’s a sad fact for July’s upcoming fibroid awareness month: 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.

Equitable Health Care and Contraceptive Access

Taking hormonal birth control may help manage fibroid symptoms such as heavy periods. But we’ve learned that  Black women are less likely to talk about contraception with their healthcare providers, likely because so many have had negative interactions surrounding sexual health conversations with medical professionals. Plus, many women don’t have any or enough insurance to cover the cost of prescriptions or the time and disposable income to leave work and make their way to a provider’s office.

Luckily, there’s a new push to help Black women enjoy equitable health care with easier access to hormonal contraception. It’s called the “Free the Pill” campaign, and its focus is to create an over-the-counter form of birth control. In an interview with TheGrio, project director Victoria Nichols said, “The goal is to get a birth control pill over the counter in the United States that is affordable, covered by insurance and available to all ages.”

Say Goodbye Fibroids

Ultimately, birth control for fibroids can only manage symptoms. It can’t offer a lasting cure. So we’re glad that The White Dress Project, one of our favorite organizations, is also joining the fight. First, they’re asking all women to wear white on July first to raise fibroid awareness, Plus, 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 Equitable Health Care for Black Women with Fibroids

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.”

Coochie Conversations: Joining the call for Equitable Health Care with Fibroids

equitable health care for black women with fibroids

In 2012, Tanya Leake, a certified health coach, started experiencing disruptive symptoms when a small fibroid grew larger. She tried managing her symptoms with lifestyle changes, but she was still suffering. So she started researching her treatment options. And that’s when the trouble began.

Leake met with four different physicians. Three told her she would only find relief with a hysterectomy. And the fourth? That provider never followed up with her after receiving her scan results.

Luckily, Leake spoke with a friend about her desire to avoid a hysterectomy. That friend, she told NPR, helped her find a less invasive treatment option. And, in the wake of her experience, Leake launched Coochie Conversations, a series of small virtual gatherings dedicated to highlighting treatment options for various women’s health issues. She hopes this series will help women find ‘that friend’ who steers them toward equitable health care, And toward less invasive fibroid treatment options!

Help for Fibroids in Houston

As interventional radiologists in Houston, we stand with Leake, 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 

What’s the Danger in Heavy Periods?

Do heavy periods control your life? When it’s that time of the month, do you wonder how long you’ll be out of the house without access to a bathroom? Or worse, do you need to double up protection, using a backup pad for your tampon, so you don’t leak?

Yes, these considerations are all hassles. Heavy periods are annoying. They can get in the way of your daily activities. But did you know that abnormally heavy menstrual cycles can lead to more serious medical problems?

Why Heavy Bleeding is Dangerous

One potential side-effect of abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) is anemia, when you don’t have enough red blood cells in your blood. If you have untreated anemia, you can even suffer organ damage!

Now, physical side effects aren’t your only concern with heavy periods. In fact, a recent study showed that this fibroid symptom could negatively affect women’s emotional and mental well-being. Specifically, this unusually heavy bleeding left women feeling fear, anxiety, and anger about their condition.

But how do you know if your bleeding is unusually heavy? For our purposes, you should talk to your doctor if you have to change your tampon or pad every hour. Or if you have symptoms like heavy overnight bleeding that stains your bedding. During a normal period, for comparison, you can expect to change your tampon or pad every three hours. And some women may even go longer, especially towards the end of the cycle.

Causes of Heavy Bleeding

Long, heavy periods are a symptom of fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that grow in or around your uterus. But a heavy menstrual cycle could also be a sign of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS), a condition that can also lead to varicose veins in your upper thighs or lower abdomen. With both PCS and fibroids, you’ll also have other shared symptoms. These include pelvic pain, pain after sex, constipation and painful period cramps. But with PCS, unlike fibroids, your pain is often worse at the end of the day, or after standing for a long time. And your risk for PCS goes up if you’ve had a baby, since giving birth puts pressure on your pelvic blood vessels.

Because heavy periods could be a sign of either of these conditions, it’s important to discuss all your symptoms with your doctor. Together, you can discover the cause of your AUB. And determine the best possible treatment plan.

Treating Heavy Bleeding

When AUB occurs for no apparent reason, certain types of birth control, like the Mirena IUD or the Nuva Ring, can help staunch the blood flow.Oral contraception and NSAIDs like ibuprofen may also help.

Unfortunately, Mirena has recently been linked to several adverse effects. The worst? It may cause pseudotumor cerebri, which is a rare neurological condition sometimes known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). With this condition, you may develop headaches, ringing in your ears and even loss of vision. All of these symptoms could make you think you’ve got a brain tumor, which is why the condition’s name translates literally to false tumor.

Now, we have to note that Mirena’s been available for 20 years. In that time, there were less than 700 reports of IIH to the FDA. Still, 80% of IIH reports linked to Mirena were made in the last two years, suggesting tweaks in the device design may be dangerous.

Fibroid Linked AUB

Obviously, you’ll have to proceed with caution before using an IUD to treat unexplained heavy bleeding. If, however, AUB is a symptom of a different, underlying condition, relief will only come from treating the cause of the bleeding. Many women who experience abnormally heavy periods may actually have one or more fibroids (a fibroid is a non-cancerous growth that develops in a woman’s uterus, often causing AUB and other symptoms or side effects.)

The most important thing to remember is this. AUB is not a cause for embarrassment, but it something worth discussing with your doctor. Not only will starting the conversation simplify your daily period routines, it may also help you stave off dangerous blood loss and far more serious complications.

Sources: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 

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 at least 80% of women with fibroids want to avoid removing their uterus. And 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”

Rapper Eve, Infertility and Fibroids: What You Need to Know

Do infertility and fibroids go together? That’s a very good question Of course, for women who haven’t completed their families, a fibroid diagnosis can be scary. So one of the first questions we hear from patients is often, “Can I still have a baby with fibroid tumors?”

The answer is, unfortunately, not completely clear cut. Without treatment, some women still won’t be able to get pregnant. But many women will have trouble conceiving without some kind of fibroid treatment. And that’s just the beginning of the story.

Eve’s Story: A Long Journey to Pregnancy eve overcomes infertility and fibroids

While rap icon Eve and her husband Maximillion Cooper now have a gorgeous baby (see pic at right) their journey wasn’t easy. You see, Eve told Tamron Hall, fibroids got in the way of her pregnancy for far too long.

After several failed rounds of IVF, she says, “I ended up going to a specialist. They told me, ‘I don’t care: you can do 20 rounds [of IVF], you can have all the sex you want – you’re never going to get pregnant because you have so many fibroids that your uterus actually already thinks it’s already pregnant.”

Even worse, she said her teen years were filled with heavy periods and other warning symptoms. Yet she never received a fibroids diagnosis until this late in the game. Luckily, she figured out something was wrong and got her healthy baby! But other women need to know more about fibroids and pregnancy, so they can also get a happy ending.

Infertility and Fibroids Size

If fibroids stay small, or develop in places where fertility isn’t affected, you may get pregnant without problems. But if your fibroids get large, they may physically block your egg from joining up with male sperm.

Then, even if the sperm and egg can join together, a large fibroid could stop the new embryo from implanting in your uterine lining. And, even if an embryo does implant, an untreated tumor can negatively impact your developing fetus.

So, that’s the bad news…at least part of it. Because fibroids can also affect women’s fertility in other, less obvious, ways.

How Fibroids Change Your Body

Fibroid Treatment After Pregnancy

While some changes are subtle, others may cause big problems for your health. Some women experience cervix shape changes due to fibroids. If that happens to you, it can limit sperm entering your uterus. And that’s not all. These growths can also change the shape of your uterus. Which could decrease the number of places where an embryo can successfully implant. Finally, can weaken your uterine cavity lining. They can also decrease the amount of blood reaching a growing fetus. And both of these issues could lead to miscarriage.

Fibroids Don’t Have to End Your Fertility Journey

With all the tolls fibroids can take on your reproductive system, there is still good news: many women who have been diagnosed with fibroids go on to have one or more children. While many women used to automatically undergo hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus) after learning they had fibroids, these days there are many fertility-preserving options.

Many women who plan on having children will choose to have a myomectomy (surgically remove the uterine fibroid.) Other women will choose to have a less invasive procedure, like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), that shrinks their fibroids by permanently cutting off the non-cancerous tumor’s blood supply. Although the research is not conclusive, many women who have UFE have been able to move on and complete their families in the way they want.

infertility and fibroids treatment

If you’re choosing UFE vs Myomectomy, talk to your doctor and our specialists. That way, you can fully understand the impact of your choice. Also, you may benefit from the infographic at right, reposted from the New England Journal of Medicine.

A fibroid diagnosis can certainly be scary, especially if you aren’t done having children, but in this case, knowledge really is power. Getting informed about all your options and choosing the best solution for your family will go a long way towards keeping fibroids from derailing your reproductive plans.

Ready to learn more? We’re here to help you! Just reach out and request an appointment with our fibroid experts in Houston. We can help you decide if you’re a good candidate for UFE, and how that may affect your fertility journey.

Why Do We Get Cramps? 5 Reasons That AREN’T Your Period

Have you ever wondered why do we get cramps? Well, you probably expect at least a little cramping during your  period. But when those painful cramps show up at other times of the month? It can be scary…and confusing! To help clear up all your questions, let’s explore a few reasons that explain why do we get cramps 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. Why Do We get Cramps? 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, but fibroids are muscular. Plus, fibroids form from within your uterine wall, while cysts develop on your ovaries. Now, we’re not sure why women develop fibroids. But we know that cyst development is linked to your monthly cycle. Also, cysts and fibroids cause different symptoms. Because fibroids can interfere with your monthly periods and your urinary function. (They could also make it harder for you to get pregnant.)

But do you want to know one symptom fibroids and cysts have in common? They can both cause you to experience cramps outside of your period. (Though, with cysts, you’ll likely experience pain on one side of your abdomen. While, with fibroids, the cramps could hit anywhere.)

Still, like fibroids, you can address cysts with a range of treatment options. And both fibroids and cysts can be diagnosed with an ultrasound in your doctor’s office. After that, you’ll be guided for follow-up care with the right specialists.

4. Why Do We Get Cramps? Sexually Transmitted Infections

Scarily enough, the answer could be yes! 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 doctor’s office so you can begin treatment and avoid transmitting the infection to a current or future partner.

5. Running

When some women suddenly increase their training miles or distance, they experience painful, period-like cramps. How could that be? Well, when you run long or hard, you put lots of pressure on your core muscles. As a result, your abs and pelvic floor muscles could get overworked to the point of cramping. If this seems to be the cause of your cramps between periods, rest should relieve your symptoms. But speak to your doctor if this becomes a persistent problem when you run, as it could mean you have muscular imbalances. And that could leave you vulnerable to injuries.

Not sure why you’re cramping between your period? Worried it could mean fibroids? Come in for a comprehensive evaluation with our Houston fibroid specialists. Using our diagnostic ultrasound, we can help determine why do we get cramps, and discuss treatment options if fibroids are the cause.

 

Sources: healthline, webmd.com

Can I Shrink My Fibroids Naturally?

If you’ve been diagnosed with uterine growths, you may wonder, “Can I shrink my fibroids naturally?” Now, today, we’ll explore some natural remedies for fibroid symptoms. But we need you to know that none will completely get rid of your non-cancerous tumors. So we’ll also share information on minimally invasive fibroid treatment.

What are Fibroids?

Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in or on your uterus. They come in different sizes, ranging from 1mm to over 10 cm in diameter (4 inches). (Some women have even larger growths.)

Smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue make up these growths. While some women don’t experience any fibroid symptoms, others suffer with heavy period pain, painful sex and more. Now, uterine fibroids affect the don’t increase your risk of uterine cancer. But they can interfere with your ability to conceive or carry a baby. Plus, they can hurt. So many women want to shrink or remove these growths.

Can I Shrink My Fibroids Naturally? I shrink my fibroids naturally

Many women prefer natural treatment options for their fibroids. Below are some natural ways to manage fibroid symptoms. Keep in mind that most won’t shrink your fibroids, though they may minimize your symptoms.

Losing Weight

Fat cells produce and hold on to estrogen. And fibroid growth seems linked to excess estrogen in your body. As a result, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight could help shrink your fibroids. Or at least prevent future growth.

Watching Your Diet

In addition to losing weight, adding some food and avoiding others can help your fibroid symptoms. That’s why it’s important to watch what you eat when you’re living with fibroids. And to shrink fibroids naturally, you may want to follow this fibroid-friendly diet.

Adding Vitamins and Minerals

Studies suggest you can help prevent fibroid growth with calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. And if you already have fibroids, taking vitamins D and A supplements could help you shrink fibroids naturally. Finally, taking magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids could help relieve period pain.

Can I Shrink My Fibroids Naturally? Self-Care Options

While you’re watching your diet and adding supplements, you can manage your symptoms to feel better. This could mean getting more exercise. (Check out these top workouts for women with fibroids.)  Plus, when pain is acute, try placing warm compresses on your back and stomach. Consider relaxing in a warm bath, seeking out a massage, or trying these yoga moves to relieve period and fibroid pain.

Can I Shrink My Fibroids Naturally? Less Invasive Treatments Funding fibroid research to narrow the Black woman's healthcare gap

Many of the methods we just reviewed could reduce fibroid size or symptoms. Still, they won’t completely eliminate your growths. To do that, you’ll need to explore your fibroid treatment options.

If you’re looking for natural fibroid remedies, we’re guessing you want to avoid surgery. So hysterectomy or myomectomy likely won’t be your first choice. Need a less invasive option? Uterine Fibroid Embolization is the answer for many women.

What is UFE?

UFE, or uterine fibroid embolization, is a minimally-invasive alternative to hysterectomy or myomectomy. It treats and shrinks uterine fibroids, with a success rate of about 85%. Most women experience dramatic symptom improvement afterward. Plus, their fibroid size shrinks and most tumors completely disappear. Learn more here.

Am I a Candidate for UFE?

Every woman is different. And not everyone will benefit from UFE. But if you have fibroid symptoms, and want to shrink fibroids in a more natural, non-surgical way, this could be a great option. Remember, though, you can’t have UFE while you’re pregnant, so you may need to wait a while if you’re currently expecting.

If you’ve been asking, can I shrink my fibroids naturally and need less invasive support, we’re here to help. Schedule a consultation with our Houston area fibroid specialists today, and we’ll answer all your treatment questions.

Sources

Responsum for Fibroids

UFE E-Book

Request an AppointmentRequest Appointment