Category: COVID-19

Got Heavy Periods? Find out Why (and When to Call Us!)

Ugh, those heavy periods: someone else’s problem, right? Well, if you’re staying closer to home right now because of the COVID-19 uptick, chances are you’re paying more attention to your body. And, if that’s the case, you may have suddenly noticed: your period’s pretty heavy!

There’s lots of reasons your period gets heavy (and we’ll go through them shortly. It’s important to know your why, so you can determine if you need to seek medical care.) But first, let’s talk about what it means to have a ‘heavy’ period.

How Can I Tell if Heavy Periods are a Problem? tampons

Like everything to do with your body, some of this is personal. If your period is suddenly much heavier than it used to be (you’re soaking through tampons or pads more rapidly), that on its own could be a warning sign.

But there is a medical condition, known as menorrhagia, which refers to a possibly-dangerous amount of period blood loss. Signs of this condition include soaking your tampon or pad every hour, for several hours in a row. Or, if you need to use a tampon and pad to avoid leaking, you may have a problem. It’s also problematic if your period lasts longer than a week, if you pass clots that are bigger than a quarter, or if your flow is affecting your sleep and daily activities.

Why Is My Period So Heavy? 4 Potential Causes of Heavy Bleeding

There are several reasons your period might be heavy. Let’s explore a few, and discuss what to do if you think that’s your ‘why.’

1. You Have Fibroids

Fibroids are (almost always) non-cancerous tumors that develop in, on or around your uterus. Fibroids cause heavy and long periods. But that’s not the only symptom that pops up with fibroids. If your heavy periods are the result of fibroids, you may have other symptoms like pelvic pain, constipation, frequent urination, and even bloating or weight gain (larger fibroids can make you look like you’re in the early stages of pregnancy!)

If you experience heavy periods, and any of the other fibroid symptoms we described, call your gynecologist or a fibroid specialist for a screening.

2. You’ve Got Thyroid Problems

Your thyroid actually plays a role in regulating your menstrual cycle, so when it’s malfunctioning, your period could stop completely. Or it could get really heavy. Typically, heavy periods are a sign of an underactive thyroid because this can impact your ovaries progesterone production, and that’s the hormone which regulates your period flow.

If an underactive thyroid is causing your heavy periods, you may also experience fatigue, dry skin, brittle nails and hair loss. Got these symptoms too? It’s best to seek the advice of an endocrinologist regarding your thyroid help.

3. You’re Entering Menopause

In the years and months before menopause, your period will change. It won’t come as often, and it could last longer, and be heavier when it does show up.

Since your period is coming less frequently, your uterine lining will get thicker before it sheds. This means when it does arrive, your period will be much heavier. You may also pass more and larger clots. So, if you’re approaching the age of menopause, and your period’s getting heavier, you don’t need to be concerned. Instead, acknowledge your changing body and start preparing mentally for your next stage of life.

4. That Extra Exercise is Causing Changes Happy African American Woman Smiling Outside

Are you using the pandemic to become a crazy runner? Or taking online fitness classes every single day? When you suddenly ramp up your activity levels, your adjusting body may lose its hormonal balance. As a result, your periods may get heavier. And this heavy flow could last for a few cycles, especially if you keep upping your fitness game.

If you’ve been training extra hard during the pandemic, and now your flow is off, you probably don’t need to go into your doctor’s office. You may, however, want to discuss hormone-balancing measures you could take from home. And possibly build a rest day into your schedule!

 

Other Causes of Heavy, Painful Periods

There are other factors which make your periods more likely to be painful. These include your age (periods tend to be more painful before you turn 20), and your pregnancy history (if you haven’t had a baby, painful periods are more likely.) If you’re a smoker, or have a family history of painful periods, your risk is also higher.

Another factor to consider is when you started your period. If your first menstrual cycle arrived before you turned 11, this could increase your risk for period pain. And, finally, aside from fibroids, other chronic conditions can make your period more painful. These include Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which is a  condition triggered by the hormonal changes in your body that begin 1 to 2 weeks before your period. Endometriosis could also be responsible. This is a condition in which your uterine cells grow outside of the uterus, typically on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, or even on your pelvic lining.

Now you know some possible causes for your heavy, painful periods, it’s time to start looking carefully at all of your menstrual symptoms. And please know that, even in these crazy times, we are here to help you find relief from period pain. Houston fibroids is open and here for you!

Sources: Prevention Magazine

Cut out Trans Fat and Other Changes to Help Fibroid Pain

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.

 

Dietary Changes to Help Fibroid Pain

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.

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
  • 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. Which, in turn, 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.

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

 

Changes to Your Period? It Could be your Age, Fibroids…or the Pandemic!

Our world changed drastically in the last few months…and with it, our bodies may be changing too! If you’ve noticed changes to your menstrual cycle recently, you’re probably not alone. As it turns out, the stress of the COVID-19 is impacting many women’s periods. tampons

You may get your period more frequently, or you may skip a period. Your period could be heavier, or could get stretched out with days of breakthrough bleeding. Because, as Dr. Beth Donaldson recently told the Huffington Post, “Stress hormones can react with the regular hormonal cycle and misguide the body.”

In other words, your wonky period symptoms could be yet another example of the pandemic’s toll on our health. But if those changes persist for a few more months, even after you adjust to the ‘new normal,’ it’s worth exploring these other potential causes of change in your monthly cycle.

Your Period Changes with Fibroids

Fibroids can affect your menstrual cycle: from its length to its heaviness, these non-cancerous tumors can make a major toll on your body each month. But fibroids aren’t the only things that affect your monthly cycle: getting older leads to menstrual changes, too. For this reason, it’s important to know what changes are typical for your age, and which are not. Recognizing the difference between typical and atypical cycle changes could help you come to a fibroid diagnosis that much quicker.

With that in mind, here’s a decade-by-decade guide to what you should expect from your menstrual cycle:

Your Period in your 20s

Even irregular periods usually become consistent in this decade. Unfortunately, symptoms like cramps, PMS and breast tenderness also become more regular, although birth control can help mitigate menstrual symptoms. Keep in mind, however, that if you already have fibroids, birth control may contribute to their growth, so you should always consult with your doctor before starting on an oral contraceptive.

Your Period in Your 30s

This decade is the one in which most women are diagnosed with fibroids, so take note of any major changes in your cycle at this time. Want some good news? Many women will have already had children by this stage of life; after a pregnancy, negative menstrual symptoms often dissipate or go away entirely! If you receive a fibroid diagnosis in your 30s, and still plan to expand your family, it’s important to discuss treatment options with a fibroid specialist. There are several fertility-sparing fibroid treatments that can provide symptom relief without forcing you to have a hysterectomy.

Your Period in Your 40s

This is the decade in which your period will likely become irregular. It can also become heavier (an effect that can also be caused by fibroids) and spotting between periods is not uncommon. Don’t forget that pregnancy is still a possibility at this stage, so you have to carefully consider alternative contraception options before ceasing oral contraceptives that may have previously helped you manage fibroid symptoms like heavy flow.

While we can make general assumptions about the way your period will progress over the years, every woman is different. What’s “normal” for one person may be unbearable to another. So, how can you tell when it’s time to see a doctor? Here’s our rule of thumb: if your menstrual symptoms are significant enough to negatively impact your day, it’s a good idea to inform your doctor of what’s going on!

 

Sources: Huffpost.com, Edward-Elmhurst Health

#WCW: How Olivia Beat Painful Sex with Fibroids

As Houston based fibroid specialists, we know living with fibroids can be challenging. That’s why we started our Woman Crush Wednesday series. We want to celebrate women who are pushing past fibroids, and share their stories. In doing so, we hope to give hope and strength to all of you who are still on a fibroid journey. 

Now, fibroids can cause many painful symptoms, including heavy periods and severe cramps. But one symptom can be especially uncomfortable, and even more difficult to discuss: painful sex. When you have fibroids, the location of your non-cancerous tumors can make sexual penetration very uncomfortable. And this can take a toll on your intimate relationships. 

With treatment, you can address your fibroids and resolve this pain. But even before seeking treatment, there are ways to connect with your partner without causing you to experience pain. Recently, we came across a letter from one woman, Olivia, describing exactly how she dealt with her fibroid-related sexual pain. And to help all of you out, we’re sharing her story, and making her our Woman Crush of the Week!

Rediscovering Sex after Fibroids Results after UFE

In her letter to Sex Talk, a column in The Observer, Olivia writes “Somewhere along the way, I developed fibroids…The sex just stopped being good.” But rather than giving up on her intimate relationship with her husband, Olivia decided to make some changes. 

She says, “In the process of trying to regain my strength and deal with anaemia brought on by fibroids, I had to check my diet. I tried to balance what I ate and my doctor recommended some supplements. That seemed to help, but it was still not that good.” 

Still, Olivia wasn’t ready to give up on this important part of her marriage. Next, she writes, came the COVID-19 lock down. Using this time to her advantage, Olivia says,  “I decided to take a walk in the evenings. The walks gradually turned into regular exercise and eventually culminated into proper workouts…But that is where the switch was. I felt better with each day of exercise, lost weight and became less grumpy.

In a few days, my energy levels had gone up… I did household chores without complaining. My back stopped hurting – I was feeling much better!”

Soon, her personal health improvements shifted to her intimate relationship. She writes, “Around that time, my husband’s language changed..[He] then initiated the lovemaking, although he seldom did. We both could not believe the outcome. The referee in my brain ticked off against all standards on his checklist. If it were a contest, he would have earned 99.9 per cent. We were shocked!” 

Fibroid Treatment for Improved Intimacy

Olivia is very lucky: like many women, her fibroid symptoms improved with exercise and weight loss. but, even though her lifestyle changes gave her symptom relief, she is still living with fibroids. Which means she could experience new or worsening symptoms at any point. 

For lasting fibroid relief, the best option is fibroid treatment. In our practice, we offer a minimally invasive option, Uterine Fibroid Embolization, which shrinks your fibroid tumors without surgery. Many women choose UFE because it is effective, and you typically don’t need to stay overnight in a hospital or deal with a long procedure recovery period. Hashtag fibroid fix

Other women may prefer options such as myomectomy, a surgery to remove individual fibroid treatments. And some may require a hysterectomy, the surgical removal of your uterus, although we always consider this the treatment of last resort. You should never get a hysterectomy unless it is medically necessary, as this procedure will impact your overall health in so many ways. 

We know that fibroid symptoms are challenging, and that it can be equally challenging to choose the right treatment plan. That’s why we’re here to help, even during the COVID-19 outbreak. Reach out and schedule a fibroid consultation with our specialists. If you prefer, we can being the process remotely, using our secure Telemedicine platform to begin your fibroid consultation

Just remember: help is available. Like Olivia, you can take control of your intimate life, even with fibroids. And you can begin your recovery journey with us, right now, and put those symptoms in your past. 

Should I Use an IUD or Oral Birth Control with 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’s what you need to know about birth control and fibroids. 

How Will Oral Birth Control Affect my Fibroid Symptoms?

  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!

Can I Implant an IUD with Fibroids?

If oral contraceptives aren’t your best choice, you may be interested in an IUD (intrauterine device). This is a small device which gets implanted into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. IUDs come in two forms: hormonal and non-hormonal, and the type you choose will make a difference in your fibroid experience. Let’s explore the differences between the two types of IUDs. 

Hormonal vs. Non-Hormonal IUD

Hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by release synthetic hormones to thins your uterine lining, thicken your cervical mucus. They also partially prevent you from ovulating. In contrast, non-hormonal IUDs release copper into your uterus. And that coppers creates an inflammatory reaction within your uterus, which results in an environment in which sperm can’t survive. 

Now that you understand how IUDs work, let’s explore if they work for women with fibroids. And here’s the story: sometimes they do. But sometimes, if your fibroids have changed the shape of your uterus, you won’t be able to use and IUD. In those cases, then, you’ll want to explore alternative methods of birth control. If, however, you’re a good candidate for an IUD, you’ll need to choose between a hormonal or non-hormonal device. 

Should I get a Hormonal IUD with Fibroids? 

For many women with fibroids, using a hormonal IUD will relieve your symptoms. That’s especially true for heavy periods, since this kind of IUD gives you a thinner uterine lining. Also, since you’ll lose less blood each month with a hormonal IUD, you’re anemia risk will be lower. If you were already anemic, your symptoms should improve. 

Hormonal IUDs may also reduce painful cramping, since your uterine lining cells release the chemicals which cause this symptom. Basically, a thinner lining means less blood loss and less materials to cause cramps. Which means if you’re suffering from these fibroid symptoms, you may benefit from a hormonal IUD. Except, of course, in one instance. Keep reading to find out when you shouldn’t use a hormonal IUD.  

 

Could Hormonal IUDs Make my Fibroids Worse?

Let’s be clear: we don’t know what causes fibroids to develop or grow larger. But we do suspect that there’s a link between hormones and fibroid growth. In other words, there’s a chance that implanting a hormonal IUD could cause your fibroids to grow larger. 

If that possibility makes you nervous, we completely understand. Just know that you can still use an IUD for birth control. In this case, you’d just opt for a non-hormonal IUD. But, keep in mind, while this IUD effectively prevents pregnancy, it won’t do anything to improve your fibroid symptoms. In fact, some women using non-hormonal IUDs report heavier bleeding and cramps. Obviously, you’ll need to think carefully about your options before selecting a non-hormonal IUD. 

And, before choosing either type of IUD, keep in mind that your fibroids will increase your risk for IUD expulsion, which occurs when your device falls fully or partially out of your uterus. If you partially expel your IUD, you’ll need to consult your doctor about safe removal, and likely move on to another form of birth control once your situation is resolved. 

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. But please remember, while birth control may alleviate fibroid symptoms, it can’t “cure” or eliminate your actual fibroids. That will only be possible with fibroid treatment. So, feel free to reach out to Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee to schedule a consultation on all your fibroid treatment options. And, in light of the current COVID-19 outbreak, rest assured you can choose to schedule a remote, Telemedicine fibroid consultation

Sources: fibroids.com, USA Fibroid Centers

#WCW: This Brave Woman Shares Her Fibroid Infertility Journey

Today, we want to highlight a feel-good story we saw in Essence magazine. It’s one woman’s experience with fibroids and infertility. But it’s also got a very happy ending: with the arrival of a 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. So we are here to help you start your treatment journey, even now, and even if we begin with a Telemedicine fibroids consultation. Now, let’s get to the good stuff: Rachel James, our Woman Crush Wednesday, sharing her story.

A Fibroid Diagnosis After Infertility

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 staying home and dreaming of starting a family? We can start your fibroid treatment process right now! Even if you prefer to delay UFE, we can begin with a remote 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—via Telemedicine or in our office. We can’t wait to help you get a happy ending of your own!

Sources: Essence.com

You Could Be Part of This Epidemic and Not Even Know It

 

Hello, again, everyone. You know how we’re all taking about asymptomatic Coronavirus patients? Well, guess what? We can find a lot of parallels with fibroids, non-cancerous tumors which grow in your uterus. Often, unnoticed.

In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) calls fibroids a “hidden” epidemic. And late Rep. Stephanie Tubs Jones, who was Ohio’s first black female representative in Congress, called it a “silent epidemic.” One that, unfortunately, impacts black women more than any other female population in this country. Here’s why:  

What Makes Fibroids Silent? shh animation

Let’s review: many women with fibroids experience symptoms like pelvic pain, heavy periods or periods that last longer than normal. Many of these women also experience fertility challenges.

But, as it turns out, these fibroid symptoms only impact about 20% of women with the growths. Which means that as many as 80% of fibroid sufferers aren’t aware they’ve got a problem. Why is that a big deal?

While fibroids may start off on the smaller side, they often don’t stay that way.  And, as they grow, symptoms might pop up. What does that mean? Women often don’t notice fibroids until they’re quite large, which may limit their treatment options.

What are my Fibroid Treatment Options?

How we treat your fibroids will depend on your individual symptoms. At our practice, we offer Uterine Fibroid Embolization, a minimally invasive fibroid treatment. If you are interested in this treatment, here’s the steps you need to take: gather information, talk to your healthcare provider, and request a consultation with our doctors!

We have plenty of information about UFE on our website, and your OB-Gyn may be able to discuss other treatment options. It’s important for you to know that UFE is one of the few options which won’t require a hospital stay or general anesthetic.

It also allows you to keep your uterus, unlike a hysterectomy, which is an all-too-common fibroid treatment. If all of this sounds good to you, then we invite you to request a consultation. At this time, we are happy to offer Telemedicine appointments, so we can begin your fibroid treatment process without making you leave your house!

Sources: McLeod Health, National Institutes of Health

Important Health Notice: Stress May Impact Fibroids

Even in normal times, life is stressful. But when you’re in the middle of a global pandemic? That stress is multiplied and magnified to entirely new levels. Of course, that’s a problem for so many reasons. But, for our purposes, we’ll just focus on one: stress may increase your fibroid risk. In a minute, we’ll explore this idea further. First, however, we’ll give you a quick fibroid overview so we’re all on the same page.

What are fibroids? Female with Fibroids

Fibroid tumors are firm, muscular, uterine growths. We classify (and name them)  based on their location in or on your uterus. If they’re inside your uterus, they’re called submucosal. When they grow on your outer uterine surface, they’re subserosal. Fibroids in the muscles of your uterine wall are intramural, and fibroids that grow like stalks outside your uterus are pedunculated.

Fibroids also vary widely in size. Some are so small they go undetected, or cause no symptoms. But others are much larger, or develop in groups. When this happens, you’re likely to experience troubling symptoms such as pain, heavy periods, anemia, pregnancy complications or even infertility. That’s why we recommend treating your fibroids with a minimally invasive procedure such as Uterine Fibroid Embolization. And it’s also why we’re helping you understand why you get fibroids in the first place.

Why do Fibroids Develop?

Unfortunately, we don’t truly know what causes fibroid development. But we do know they impact black women more than any other group. And, research now suggests that stress may be associated with an increased fibroid risk, in addition to other factors we’ve already identified, including family history, and exposure to the chemicals within hair relaxers.  

In combination, these factors can help you understand your fibroid risk. And understanding that stress increases your risk means now is a good moment to check in with your reproductive health. If you notice symptoms such as pelvic pain, frequent urination, or long and/or heavy periods, don’t wait. Seek help right away from a fibroid specialist. Don’t want to leave your house? No problem! Our Houston Fibroids team is offering remote fibroid consultations, via the secure Doxy platform. But we can also see you in our office if you need a procedure. Now, what kind of procedure will depend on your selected treatment preference. So let’s explore your best fibroid treatment plans.

How Should I Treat Fibroids?

All too often, you’ll hear that hysterectomy is the best fibroid treatment. But that’s actually not true for every woman. In fact, many women can find relief from fibroid symptoms with UFE, a minimally invasive procedure which cuts off fibroid blood supply. This effectively kills the tumors. All without surgery, and all while preserving your uterus!

Of course, some women may prefer a myomectomy—the surgical removal of individual fibroids. If this is your choice, just exercise caution. If your doctor wants to perform laparoscopic surgery, just say no to morcellators. They majorly increase your risk for uterine cancer.

What we really want you to understand is this. We’re living in stressful times. And that can hurt your health in so many ways. But don’t feel like you need to delay treating pressing health issues, just to avoid Coronavirus. There are real, concrete ways we can help you manage fibroids, all while preserving social distancing. So, if you’re in pain, reach out for help. Request a Telemedicine appointment with our fibroid specialists and we’ll put you on the path to relief. All while protecting you from unnecessary surgeries!

 

Sources: Journal of Women’s Health Issues. Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., Columbia Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York.

#WCW: Kelly McCreary Overcomes her Fibroid Pain

Here at Houston Fibroids, we help women overcome fibroid pain. Even now, during a pandemic, we’re here to provide relief, whether in our office or via Telemedicine appointments (learn more here.) And we’re also here to provide hope, by sharing the stories of fibroid warriors. So, today, we’re highlighting Kelly McCreary, for her bravery in opening up about fibroids .

Kelly McCreary—aka Maggie Pierce on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy—may play a doctor on TV, but when it came to her own health challenges, she couldn’t tidily wrap up her own diagnosis in a 60-minute time frame. In fact, figuring out the cause of her long, painful periods was a major process. And it’s one that she opened up about recently in Glamour magazine. Which is one (of many) reasons why Kelly is our Woman Crush Wednesday this week.

Facing Facts: Painful Periods aren’t Normal Periods

To start her revealing interview, Kelly admitted: “I just celebrated my first year of living without menstrual pain since I was 13 years old.” As a teenager, she has very painful periods. But then, in her 20s, things got better. Next came her 30s, and each year meant more period pain. Finally, about five years ago, it all became too much, so she went to her doctor. That’s where she discovered her fibroids.

Kelly explained, ““[My] doctor in New York diagnosed them. She said, ‘These are not a big deal. They’re very small. They’re in a place that’s easy to remove.” But Kelly didn’t schedule a myomectomy (surgical fibroid removal). And soon, she moved to Los Angeles—and a new doctor.

This doctor had entirely different advice. Her new doctor said, “Surgery’s a big deal. You don’t want to have any surgery, even if it’s a minor surgery, unless you absolutely have to. Instead, go on an IUD. The hormones and the IUD will treat the symptoms of your fibroids and maybe it’ll prevent them from growing.”

As interventional radiologists who provide minimally invasive fibroid treatments, we love much of this advice. But it’s unfortunate no one talked about Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) with Kelly. Because the IUD approach didn’t work for her. And, instead of exploring other options, Kelly switched up her thinking. She explained to her summit audience:  “The fundamental belief that I absorbed was that periods are painful and uncomfortable and that’s normal. So, I was willing to endure, frankly, a lot of discomfort.”

Pelvic Pain isn’t Normal: A Fibroid Intervention

Things only got worse for Kelly once she got an IUD. “[It] was a huge fiasco,” she said. “I hated it. It was incredibly painful… My fibroids were located in the exact same place where the IUD was placed… The pain was just unbearable.”

Finally, Pete Chatmon (Kelly’s husband) encouraged her to find , who urged her to find more permanent relief. She found a doctor who, she said, “literally lifted her fists and said, ‘Painful periods are not normal.’ She had surgery two years ago. And she’s been pain-free ever since.

Exploring Fibroid Treatment Options Hashtag fibroid fix

Kelly’s story is anything but unique. Fibroid are very common. Especially for African American women like Kelly, who are three times more likely than white women to develop fibroids. Unfortunately, many of these women also get insufficient medical advice. Like Kelly, few are told about all of their treatment options.

And Kelly acknowledges that her path won’t work for everyone. “I’m not…necessarily just advocating surgery. I’m advocating treatment that actually is meant to address giving your body and your mind relief; that is not a course of Ibuprofen every month…For me, that meant surgery.”

But, she wants every woman to find their best course of action. And she’s offering this advice:  “I think a lot of doctors are quick to end the appointment and you have to be persistent…If you’re walking around and your wrist hurts, your doctor wouldn’t just be like, ‘Yes, sometimes your wrist hurts.’ You don’t have to deal with that. So, address it, take it seriously and make your doctor take it seriously with you.”

We believe those are #WCW words to live by. So, if you have fibroids and you’re looking for more treatment options, ask your doctor about UFE. And if you aren’t getting answers, come schedule a consultation with our Houston area fibroid specialists.   

Sources: Glamour.com, Hollywoodlife.com, Houstonfibroids.com

Here’s How and Why You Should Exercise with Fibroids

Do you have fibroids, those typically non-cancerous tumors in your uterus? It’s important to manage your care, especially with lifestyle choices.

Sometimes, fibroids give you symptoms like heavy periods, pelvic pain or frequent urination. Treating your fibroids with a protocol like Uterine Fibroid Embolization should stop those symptoms. But if you aren’t quite ready to treat your fibroids, exercise can help you manage those symptoms. As long as you choose the right activities. So, to help you make smart choices, we’re sharing our top ‘dos and don’t’ for working out when you have fibroids.

What Exercises will Hurt My Fibroids?

Since you’re working out to stay healthy and manage your symptoms, avoid workouts that make symptoms worse. This means staying away from moves which put pressure on your stomach—think ab work such as sit-ups or crunches. They may painfully press on your fibroids.

You should also stay away from lifting heavy weights, since this type of exercise can push more blood into your abdomen and lower body. Why is that a problem? By pushing more blood into your core, you’re increasing your fibroid’s blood supply. And that could translate to additional fibroid growth, which is obviously not what you want. Now that you know which moves to skip, let’s focus on the exercises that can help reduce your fibroid symptoms.

What Kind of Workouts will Improve Fibroid Symptoms?

One of our favorite ways to manage your fibroids is with cardiovascular exercises like walking, jogging or swimming. These are considered cardio because they raise your heart rate. And they are a great way to manage fibroids because they make you feel good while helping you maintain a healthy weight.

New year's resolutionsIt’s always important to work towards a healthy weight, but it’s especially helpful if you have fibroids. That’s because, when you gain weight, your hormones can become unbalanced. And an overdose of hormones may boost fibroid growth. So getting your cardio in will help manage those fibroid symptoms now and down the road as well.

Now, as for specific forms of cardio, swimming is one of our top choices. First of all, it’s low impact, so you’re unlikely to get hurt, even if you’re new to exercise. Also, swimming can help your digestion. And since constipation is an especially troubling fibroid symptom, swimming is a great exercise option!

Ready to dive into a new exercise program but sticking close to home? Never fear, we’ve got some home-workout safety tips to help you get going!

Safely Working Out at Home

We want you to be safe, wherever you get your sweat on. And to help protect your health, we’ve asked certified personal trainer Anita Slaughter, owner of A | TRAIN FITNESS, for her top at-home workout tips! And feel free to reach out and train with Anita from home. She offers virtual training and Zoom fitness classes!

1.       If you aren’t exercising regularly, ease into a fitness program and slowly increase the frequency, duration and intensity.

2.       Add variety to your fitness program.  Mix up your muscle groups so you don’t sustain overuse/repetitive injuries. And throw plenty of cardio in the mix, with walks or runs outside for the added Vitamin D benefit.

3.      If you have underlying health issues (like vein disease) or you’re concerned about safety, consult a professional.  Telehealth is now available if you need to get clearance from a physician or fibroid specialist.  

Sources: A Train Fitness Coaching, Vivaeve.com 

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