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Author: Houston Fibroids

Can CBD Oil ‘Tampons’ Stop Period Pain?

These days, there’s a lot of discussion about cannabidiol (CBD) products. Derived from the cannabis (marijuana) plant, CBD offers many therapeutic qualities without getting you high. CBD oils and lotions may stop pain, or even offer relief from anxiety and depression. In fact, people are so excited about CBD’s pain relieving properties, there’s now a CBD ‘tampon’ on the market, designed to relieve menstrual pelvic pain. Some women have found pain relief from CBD, but we still don’t know how it affects the rest of your body. Let’s look at how CBD ‘tampons’ work, and how women with period pain will be affected by their use. 

What is a CBD ‘Tampon’?

Though they’re called CBD tampons, they aren’t intended to absorb menstrual blood. Actually, CBD tampons are suppositories that you insert into your vagina. Made from CBD oil, cocoa butter and coconut oil, the suppositories dissolve in your body after insertion. And because your vagina is so absorbent, the CBD oil is delivered quickly to your blood stream. This means quick pain relief, but what else will the oils do while circulating through your body? 

How will CBD Affect Your Body?

In addition to reducing inflammation–and pain–in your pelvic area, CBD tampons may interact with your medications.  This means your drugs, especially antibiotics and anti anxiety medications, may not be as effective. CBD suppositories could also change the chemical balance of your vagina, leaving you vulnerable to yeast and other infections. And for women who are trying to conceive or already pregnant, these ‘tampons’ are a major no-no. The CBD could change the way sperm functions in your body. It could also impact and change fetal development. 

While CBD tampons do seem to offer temporary period pain relief, there’s a lot we don’t know about what else they do to you. For that reason, we advise treating the cause of your period pain–from fibroids to adenomyosis to endometriosis–rather than trying funky new methods of temporary pain relief. 

Sources: healthline.com, huffpost.com

Reality Check: When is Hysterectomy Necessary?

As we’ve shared previously on the blog, many women in this country have hysterectomies they don’t need. Since a hysterectomy–the complete removal of a woman’s uterus–is a really big deal, that’s scary news. But are there cases when hysterectomies are a must? Let’s take a closer look! 

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

As we said, a hysterectomy is an operation to remove a woman’s uterus. Oophorectomy is a process where the ovaries are removed. When only the fallopian tubes are removed, the process is called salpingectomy. The uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed in a hysterectomy with a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

There are partial, total or radical hysterectomies. Partial hysterectomies leave your cervix remains in place. Total hysterectomies remove the whole uterus and cervix. Radical hysterectomies remove the whole uterus, including its tissue and its sides, the cervix and the top part of your vagina. 

When Do You NEED a Hysterectomy?

Hysterectomies are appropriate responses to life-threatening conditions. Radical hysterectomies are often given to women with cancers of the uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix or vagina. It may be necessary if a woman’s uterus ruptures during childbirth, or if her post-delivery bleeding is life threatening. In some cases, women with severe PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) will need this surgery. 

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

#WCW: Tanika Gray Valburn

It’s #WomanCrushWednesday! Today, we honor Tamika Gray Valburn, founder of The White Dress Project. For years, Tanika suffered from fibroids .  She saw her mom lose two sets of twins due to her own fibroids, but didn’t make the connection to her own diagnosis right away! 

In fact, Valburn didn’t officially get a fibroid diagnosis until her late teens, even though she experienced painful symptoms. “You just think it will skip a generation,” she recently revealed in an interview. “When you’re young, you’re not thinking it will be your story as well.” But, like so many women, Valburn discovered that fibroids do tend to run in families. 

And, because her fibroids caused such heavy periods, Valburn said, ““I’ve had to learn how to pad myself [to keep from leaking through clothes.] I know the whole formula—what kind of underwear to wear, what kind of tights, what kind of Spanx. I’ve tried and tested everything. It’s become a way of life.”

Eventually, Tanika surgically removed 27 fibroids from her uterus. After her recovery, she wanted to help other women. In 2014, Tanika convinced a Georgia state representative to officially declare July as Fibroid Awareness Month, helping women get the crucial health information they need.

But she didn’t stop there. Tanika realized that she’d never bought white clothing. She said, “It’s a simple thing. Like, who cares, why not just wear black? But I love clothes, and the fact that I had to sacrifice wearing white for these benign tumors—I wasn’t feeling it.”

The White Dress Project


That same year, Tanika founded the White Dress Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting fibroids awareness, supporting research, and bringing together a community of women who work to empower one another.  The white dress became their symbol, as it signified a milestone in Tanika’s recovery – the moment she could rock a white dress without any fear. Now, the white dress has become a symbol of strength and power to other women dealing with fibroids, becoming one step in the fight to take control of their menstrual health issues.

As doctors involved in the daily battle against fibroids, we salute Tanika, our forever #WCW. We invite all women who are dealing with fibroids to slip on their white dresses and take control of their health by learning more about UFE, a minimally invasive treatment for fibroids!

70% of Hysterectomies Are Avoidable!

According to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology,  400,000  women in the U.S. get hysterectomies each year. Sadly, up to 70% of those surgeries were likely avoidable (other treatments could have been offered.) Many women with fibroids have learned this the hard way. All too often, they’re told hysterectomies are the only way to alleviate fibroid symptoms, when relief is available with less invasive treatment options. Now, we want to help make sure women know about the alternatives! 

Hysterectomies Aren’t the Only Option for Fibroid Treatments Hysterectomy alternatives

While some women may need a hysterectomy to treat their fibroids, others can be helped with medication, less invasive surgeries like myomectomies, or minimally invasive procedures like Uterine Fibroid Embolization.  Also known as UFE, this last is a procedure performed by specialists like Houston’s Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee.) Doctors inject embolizing materials into the blood vessels feeding a woman’s tumors. Soon, they ‘starve’ and shrink, all without a traumatic surgical procedure or hospital stay and down time. 

Spreading the Word about Fibroid Treatment Options

So, if there are other effective fibroid treatments, why are so many women still giving up on their uterus and fertility? Quite simply, they don’t know they have a choice! According to Sir Marcus Setchell, a former British gynaecologist, “There is clearly a failure of communication about the use of these less-invasive treatments.” And, says Dr. Anne Deans, another British gynaecologist who consulted on this project, “Women should be given a choice, but many are not being told about the alternatives to hysterectomies. This is major surgery involving six weeks off work.”

In short, there too many women who think fibroid diagnoses necessitate hysterectomies. Will you help us spread the word about alternative treatments? Just share this article  with the hashtag #FibroidFix. Together, we can help women avoid invasive, life-altering surgeries!

Sources: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, U.S. News & World Report 

Why You Can’t Ignore Pink Discharge

For women, vaginal discharge is part of a normal monthly cycle. It changes in amount, color and texture at different times in the month. But when that color changes to pink, it could be a sign of a bigger problem brewing. 

What Pink Discharge Means For Your Health

Pink vaginal discharge usually contains trace amounts of blood. And bleeding outside of your period could be a sign of a problem. If you are experiencing pink discharge, you should see your doctor right away. The color could mean that you have: 

  1. Uterine Fibroids. Pink discharge could indicate that you are spotting (bleeding outside of your period), and fibroids (non-cancerous tumors) are known to cause abnormal bleeding. So if you are regularly seeing pink outside of your period, it is worth discussing a fibroid screening with your OBGYN. 
  2. Uterine Polyps. Like fibroids, polyps are non-cancerous growths. But while fibroids develop in or on your uterus, polyps develop in endometrial tissue before extending into the uterus. If pink discharge comes after sex, it could be a sign you have polyps, since intercourse can bump these growths, causing some blood to mingle with your discharge. 
  3.  Ovarian cysts. These are fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries. When they resolve on their own, cysts don’t typically cause symptoms. But when they keep growing and become large, they may cause abnormal bleeding–and pink discharge! 
  4. Infections. Pink discharge could also be a sign of an infection in your vagina. Potential causes could be an STI (sexually transmitted infection) or vaginitis.
  5.  Pregnancy, including ectopic. When a fertilized egg implants itself in your uterine wall, you may bleed a little, causing pink discharge. But when that egg implants outside your uterus, in your fallopian tubes, pink discharge will also likely appear, along with other symptoms like sharp pain, dizziness, weakness and even fainting. 

Because pink discharge could indicate so many different conditions, it’s important to bring up this change with your doctor. The only way to know the cause is to investigate with your medical care provider. 

 

Sources: Medical News Today, yourtango.com

Can I get Pregnant After UFE?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is an effective, minimally invasive fibroid treatment. For years, we didn’t know how UFE affects fertility. Women who wanted kids had myomectomies (surgical removal of fibroids.) Now, thanks to a new French study, that school of thought may just be changing. Woman holding a pregnancy test

Fertility After UFE

In this study, researchers followed 15 women, all about 35 years old and with no apparent fertility problems. All of the women treated their fibroids with UFE. Typically, UFE eliminates fibroids by injecting an embolizing substance into all the blood vessels and arteries surrounding a tumor. For this study, doctors changed things up. They embolized the vessels that directly gave blood to fibroids, but left other nearby arteries untouched, allowing blood to flow into the unaffected uterine tissue. The procedure, called a limited embolization approach, was supposed to spare the women’s fertility while also relieving their fibroid symptoms. 

Nine of the women were actively trying to get pregnant at the time of treatment. Within a year, five had babies.  Three and a half years after the modified UFE, eight of the women had given birth to 10 babies! Those are numbers that we love to see. 

And that’s not all the good news. The women reported a 66% reduction in their fibroid symptoms, and an incredible 112% improvement in their overall quality of life. Only five women still experienced symptoms, seeking follow up treatments. 

Of course, with unlimited UFE, recurring symptoms are much less frequent. But, because the full procedure impacts blood flow to your uterus, it may impact your chances of getting pregnant. So, for women who want to avoid surgery and still plan to have children, limited embolization UFE appears to be a great option. For more information on UFE, and to see if the procedure can work for you, schedule a consultation with one of our Houston area fibroid specialists. Relief may be available without hospital stays–all without giving up on your dream of having a family! 

 

Sources: ask4ufe.com, europeanradiology.org

4 Facts about Birth Control & Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors. Many women will be affected by fibroids in their life.  Fibroids can develop in several different places in or on the uterus. Depending on where they develop, they will be classified  as subserosal, intramural, or submucosal.

While no one knows exactly why these tumors develop, most doctors agree that their growth can be affected by the presence of estrogen. This may be why many women’s fibroids grow and develop during pregnancy. Because of the connection between estrogen and fibroid development, you may be wondering how  birth control will impact your fibroids. Here are four things you should know about birth control and fibroids. 

  1. 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.

     2. 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.)

     3. 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.

    4. 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.

Sources: fibroids.com

Adenomyosis vs. Endometriosis: Learn the Differences

If you experience painful periods, heavy bleeding, and chronic pelvic pain, your symptoms could mean you have fibroids. But there are two other diagnoses that might apply: endometriosis, a condition in which endometrial tissue leaves your uterus and implants in other parts of the body. When you start your period, this rogue endometrial tissue sheds as well, causing you to bleed in your pelvis and beyond. This bleeding can leave you with cysts, scar tissue, and adhesions.

Adenomyosis also causes these kinds of symptoms, but it is a separate condition. With adenomyosis, endometrial tissue lodges itself deep in the muscle of the uterus. It does not leave the uterus.  

While initial symptoms seem to be similar, there are several ways in which these conditions affect you differently.

Distinguishing Symptoms of Adenomyosis

As we mentioned, both endometriosis and adenomyosis leave women with pelvic pain and heavy bleeding. What’s different is the timing of that discomfort: women with adenomyosis usually experience that pain around their periods. Women with endometriosis have period pain, but often also experience pain with bowel movements and at other times in their cycle.

Differing Diagnosis Methods

Endometriosis can be tough to diagnose, which is why many women can only confirm they have this condition after laparoscopic surgery (a doctors insert a thin tube with a light and camera into a small incision in your stomach. This tube lets them see the lesions, cysts, and adhesions that confirm this condition.)

In contrast, women with adenomyosis can usually receive their diagnosis with an MRI or transvaginal ultrasound. These minimally invasive tools can also confirm the scope of your condition: if you have just a few cysts in your uterus, your adenomyosis is considered focal. If the tissue is widespread within your uterus, you will be diagnosed as having diffuse adenomyosis.

Treating Adenomyosis: UAE Can Help

For both endometriosis and adenomyosis, there are a wide variety of treatment options. These include options as simple as birth control pills to an array of surgeries, some as serious as hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy is the only cure for these conditions, but other options can help control your symptoms. For women with adenomyosis, there is a newer treatment available: UAE, or Uterine Artery Embolization. With UAE, particles are injected into the uterine artery to block the blood flow to the specific problem area in your uterus. The goal is to deprive the tissue of both blood and oxygen, so your condition will abate. The procedure involves an overnight stay in the hospital.

Our doctors use three types of particles: smaller, normal and larger particles. This new protocol has increased UAE’s effectiveness rate to 80%. For this reason, UAE seems to be an excellent short term treatment option for many women.

Speak to your doctor today to learn about the best treatment options for your adenomyosis. To speak with one of our doctors, please give us a call anytime at 713-575-3686.

 

Sources: Health.com

 

5 Fun Facts About the Uterus

As women, we know that we have a uterus. We may know a few things about the uterus, like it’s function and vague location, but there’s lot’s more to learn! With that in mind, here are five fascinating facts about the uterus we bet you haven’t yet discovered!

1.     The uterus is usually pear-sized, but it can expand to the size of a watermelon. When you aren’t pregnant, your uterus is only about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, although this size varies among women. Of course, if you do become pregnant, it starts to stretch, expanding to accommodate your growing fetus (it can reach the size of a large watermelon!) Given its ability to stretch, factors other than a baby can affect the size of your uterus. Fibroid tumors, for example, can cause your uterus to expand, mimicking the look of pregnancy even without conception.

2.   Some women are born with more than one uterus. Although very rare, some women do have uterus didelphys, a congenital condition where two distinct uteruses develop (this was recently brought to life on a 2019 episode of Grey’s Anatomy.) Some women with this condition may also have two cervixes and two vaginas, but others may not have any external reflection of this condition, making it unlikely to be diagnosed until that woman wants to or becomes pregnant.

3.   Sometimes, the uterus has bumps and tilts. Known as bicornuate or retroverted, some women have a uterus with two bumps that make it resemble a heart; others have a uterus that tilts forward or backward instead of straight up and down. Women with a heart-shaped (bicornuate) uterus are unlikely to experience symptoms, although carrying a baby to term may be more difficult. A retroverted uterus also shouldn’t effect your period or fertility, but sometimes it’s a symptom of another condition, like endometriosis or an infection.

4.   Your uterus is vulnerable to cancer. Uterine cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States—and the seventh most common cause of cancer-related death in this country. And, according to the CDC, it’s becoming even more common: in fact, women who carry extra weight are up to four times more likely to develop uterine cancer, and we all know that obesity has become a national concern.  Why does weight increase your risk of uterine cancer? Obesity effects your hormone levels, because fat cells have high levels of estrogen, and estrogen increases your risk of this kind of cancer.  

5.    Removing your uterus is not always the answer. Many women are told to undergo a hysterectomy, even if they are dealing with non-cancerous conditions like fibroids or adenomyosis. But removing your uterus can affect more than just your reproductive health, so before undergoing this major surgery, it’s crucial to explore less invasive treatment options like Uterine Fibroid Embolization.

Sources: yahoo.com, cdc.gov