Category: Fibroid Symptoms

7 Ways to Relieve Fibroid Pain

If you have fibroid symptoms, we know you’re looking for ways to relieve fibroid pain. After all, once you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids, it can take time for you to decide on the best course of treatment. But, during that time, you may still be experiencing symptoms like pelvic pain, heavy periods, constipation, frequent urination or painful sex.  So, if you need to find some fibroid pain relief while determining the next steps in your treatment plan, try any or all of these tips to help find some medical or natural forms of relief from fibroid symptoms.

New Medication to Relieve Fibroid Pain

The US FDA is currently investigating a new combination pill that drastically reduces heavy periods caused by fibroids. Called relugolix, the drug combines estrogen and progestin. And, in studies conducted by manufacturer Myovant Sciences, the combo pill effectively reduced heavy menstrual bleeding.

For the study, researches recruited 770 women with fibroids and heavy periods. Each woman was randomly assigned to take the drug or a placebo. Every day, for six months. Then, at the end of the trial, over 70% of the women taking relugolix saw dramatic bleeding reductions. And, unlike other fibroid drugs, relugolix didn’t lower women’s bone density.

Of course, that’s a big plus for women who worry about osteoperosis. Still, if approved, the pill would be very expensive. And, because it blocks hormonal production, women would have to go off their medications in order to get pregnant. Also, because these fibroid drugs can impact other areas of women’s health, they aren’t meant to be long-term treatments. Which is why women may prefer non-pharmacologic ways to relieve fibroid pain.

Relieve Fibroid Pain Without Drugs

1.       Put aside the processed foods. We know how much you love your oreos, twinkies and other packaged  goodies, but here’s the deal: these processed foods are full of chemicals that can increase inflammation in the body. And inflammation can trigger more pain and a worsening of your existing symptoms.

2.       Same goes for refined sugar. Refined sugars—the ones like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup that are added to food items like cookies, cakes and cereals—promote inflammation and weight gain. We’ve already touched on the dangers of inflammation, but weight gain may actually be a bigger problem when it comes to fibroids, as extra pounds can lead to hormonal imbalances, and both of those conditions increase your fibroid risk.

3.       Ditch the alcohol. Like our previous two offenders, alcohol can lead to inflammation and weight gain. Putting down the spirits may help prevent your existing fibroids from expanding, and may help protect you from the development of new tumors.

4.       Grab those leafy greens. When you have fibroids, spinach and lettuce should be your new best friends. Their anti-inflammatory powers can really help keep the growth and symptoms of these non-cancerous tumors in check.

5.       Add some crunchy veggies, too. Foods like broccoli and cauliflower have been shown to help prevent fibroids from developing.

6.       Break a sweat. Exercise can help tamp down inflammation in the body. It can also help with weight control and hormonal balance. Plus, it releases feel-good endorphins that can make it easier to cope with painful fibroid symptoms.

Remember, none of these options will treat your fibroids. Because all they can do is target your fibroid symptoms. So, if you want to say goodbye to fibroids, you’ll need to seek treatment that targets the actual growths. And, here at Houston Fibroids, we invite you to book a consultation with our experts. Together, we can review all your treatment options, and help decide if Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is right for you!

Sources: New England Journal of Medicine

Why You Can’t Ignore Pink Vaginal 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. Keep reading to learn more.

Mid-Cycle Spotting or Menstruation?

If you notice mid-cycle vaginal discharge, it’s hard to tell what’s going on. Is it your period coming early? Or is it discharge? Here’s where paying attention to color can help you get a better picture of your health.

You see, period blood is usually dark-red. In contrast, spotting shows up more like pink vaginal discharge. If you’re spotting, the discharge will also be less heavy. And it should come and go, instead of lasting for a few days.

When does spotting usually occur? There are several times in your cycle when you could expect to spot. Typically, spotting will occur when you release an egg, because your estrogen levels drop at that moment. You also may spot just before ovulation, or right after ovulation. If spotting develops after your ovulation, it could also mean you’re pregnant (this is called implant bleeding.)

Now, these are all times when spotting is a normal part of your menstrual cycle. But, sometimes, pink discharge is a sign of an underlying health condition. And if that’s the case, it’s best to see your doctor right away.

Pink Vaginal Discharge and 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 and spotting 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. (See above, where we discuss implant bleeding.) 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.
  6. Cervical Cancer. With this issue, the color of your discharge matters less than the change in its nature. Abnormal discharge is a warning sign of cervical cancer. Especially if it’s watery or smells like fish. Or accompanied by other cancer warning signs like edema (leg swelling), abdominal bloating, painful urination and overall fatigue.

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.

What about Pink Menstrual Blood? pink period flow isn't always typical

Sometimes, pink discharge isn’t a between-periods problem. At certain points during your period, your flow may become thin, light and pale pink instead of red in color. Often, this is a normal development. Your flow tends to be lighter at the end of your period. And many women experience a light, pale flow in the first day of their periods, too.

Other times, however, this change in color could mean you have a health problem. If you have low estrogen levels, your period flow may appear more pink than red. Or, if it’s just a lighter red, almost diluted, it could be a sign of anemia. And, since anemia is a common side effect of fibroids, this should be a sign it’s time to see your gynecologist.

Now, we know that some of these changes in your discharge or flow may be subtle. So we don’t want you to spend your time analyzing your personal rainbow of colors. Instead, try this advice as a guideline. Pay attention to your body’s personal ‘normal.’ Then, if you notice a change that seems out of the ordinary, bring it up with your doctor at your next check up, just to rule out problems. Just remember: if any of these changes cause you severe pain, or interfere with your daily life, don’t wait around for your next annual visit. Instead, schedule an appointment with your Houston fibroid specialists right away: you should never wait around for help!

 

Sources: Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology, Medical News Today, yourtango.com, Baby Gaga

Stress, Vitamin D Deficiency and Fibroid Risk: What You Need to Know

What do stress, vitamin d deficiency and fibroids have in common? Well, they’re all getting a lot more attention during the pandemic!

After all, 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. Plus, we’re all spending more time indoors, so our risk goes up for vitamin d deficiency. (Which could also increase your risk for serious COVID-19, according to current research.)

Of course, these are problems for so many reasons. But, for our purposes, we’ll just focus on one: stress and vitamin d deficiency 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.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Other Risks: 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. (By the age of 50, 70% of white women have fibroids. But 80% of black women have them at the same age.)

Lots of things affect your fibroid risk. Current research  suggests that stress may be associated with an increased fibroid risk. Also, research now suggests that vitamin d deficiency could increase your risk for fibroids. When working properly, your body’s vitamin d stores produce an anti-fibroid effect by reducing certain chemicals that seem to trigger fibroid growth. This factor, in addition to other factors we’ve already identified, including family history, and exposure to the chemicals within hair relaxers, could help explain why black women more often get fibroids. Because, vitamin d deficiency is 10 time more prevalent in Black women than in white women!

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 still offers 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 an appointment with our fibroid specialists and we’ll put you on the path to relief. All while protecting you from unnecessary surgeries!

 

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

Help for Painful Sex and the Emotional Cost of Fibroids

Do you need help for painful sex? If you have fibroid tumors, sexual intercourse might hurt. Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors. They come in different sizes, and can also form in different portions or layers of the uterus. If your fibroids develop near your cervix, they can make certain sexual positions incredibly painful. You may feel like avoiding sex entirely. And, in some cases, those fibroids near your cervix may cause post-intercourse bleeding. Female with Fibroids

All of these effects are challenging. But there’s good news. First of all, certain positions can help. And, science is working on more treatments for painful sex. This could eliminate the problem entirely, and not just for women with fibroids.

Sexual Positions that Relieve Fibroid Pain

When you have fibroids, remember that sex isn’t only about penetration. You can still enjoy other intimate connections. But you can also choose positions which limit depth of penetration. By doing so, you’ll avoid pressure on fibroids near your cervix, which should limit pain during and after intercourse.

While we won’t get into specifics right here, you can explore this article from Cosmopolitan magazine. It highlights 5 positions to try if you experience pain with intercourse.

Medical Help for Painful Sex

Of course, women with fibroids are not the only ones who experience painful intercourse. According to a study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, evidence suggests that women with chronic sexual pain who were given Gabapentin (a fibromyalgia drug also used to target oral nerve pain) experienced relief from sexual pain.

The women included in this study had a condition known as vulvodynia, a chronic problem characterized bu stinging, burning and itching at the entry to the vagina. The condition is often worsened by sexual intercourse, or even by the use of tampons.

With the fibromyalgia drug Gabapentin, the 230 women included in the study experienced less pain; their arousal and sexual satisfaction levels also improved. Of course, the pain of vulvodynia does not have the same underlying cause as the pain of fibroids, but one factor does unite the two issues: tightness and discomfort in the pelvic region. Gabapentin appears to help women by alleviating pelvic pain, a symptom experienced by many women with fibroids. Results after UFE

Addressing the Emotional Cost of Fibroids

Now, the symptoms of fibroids aren’t just physical. They also take a big toll on women emotionally. And there’s a study to prove that fact!

According to a study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, having fibroids is as much of a social and emotional challenge as it is to live with heart disease, diabetes or even breast cancer!

The findings are based on a comprehensive review of 57 earlier fibroid studies. And they suggest that living with fibroids dramatically lowers your quality of life. They also noted that fibroids could be considered a disability, because of their impact on mental health and social functioning. Not to mention the physical pain and disrupted sexual relationships that often come along for the ride with a fibroid diagnosis.

Pain Management Vs. Problem Solving

Not all women are ready to treat their fibroids immediately after receiving a diagnosis. And that’s why we’re helping you manage painful sex while you wisely research all your treatment options. Doing so will help you decide which course of action is best for your long term health and fertility goals. For women like these, who decide to lay surgical or non-invasive fibroid treatments like UFE, finding new ways to manage symptoms like painful intercourse will be very important.

Sources: Cosmopolitan Magazine, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Got Cramps between Periods? This Could Be the Problem

If you’ve got cramps between periods, this read is for you! Pretty much every woman on earth has experienced cramps at some point. You know the feeling: that throbbing pain in your lower abdomen, ranging from mildly uncomfortable to something severe enough that it keeps you from your daily life.

Typically, women experience cramps before or during their periods. These cramps are directly tied to your hormones: they set it caused when Prostaglandin (a lipid hormone) causes your uterine muscles to contract.  Called primary dysmenorrhea, the purpose of these types of cramps is to help your body get rid of its unfertilized egg and your uterine lining. And while uncomfortable, these primary cramps don’t last long—they typically resolve between 48 and 72 hours after they first begin.

But sometimes, you get cramps after your period is done; other times, cramps start up, but no period follows. These cramps are obviously not connected to  menstruation, so they are known as secondary dysmenorrhea. Sometimes, these secondary cramps are no big deal—it could be a sign of a minor stomach bug or other irritation. But other times, secondary cramps are a sign of an underlying medical condition. And, today, we’ll focus of one possible cause of secondary dysmenorrhea: uterine fibroids.

Cramps Between Periods and Fibroids

Before explaining the connection between cramps and fibroids, you need to know exactly what fibroids are (and aren’t. Fibroids are tumors that can form anywhere in your uterus. They are NOT cancerous, although a small minority of women will discover they also have cancer when treating their fibroids.

Some women’s fibroids aren’t symptomatic. Other women experience a range of symptoms. How many or how severe those symptoms will be have a lot to do with the, size, location and number of tumors developing in your uterus.

In addition to secondary cramping, fibroids can cause symptoms such as:

  • Spotting between periods
  • Heavy menstrual periods, some severe enough to require transfusions
  • Long periods
  • Pelvic pain or pressure
  • A frequent need to pee, and/or difficulties when you go
  • Constipation
  • For some women, becoming or remaining pregnant will also be difficult with fibroids.

 

Other Reasons You Get Non-Menstrual Cramps

Not all cramps between periods are tied to fibroids. Here are other reasons you might get cramps that aren’t tied to your menstrual cycle:

Ovarian cyst

If you have an ovarian cysts (a small, fluid-filled growth in your ovaries) you could experience intense lower belly cramps. These cysts are common, and your OBGYN can help you diagnose this condition. But don’t wait too long to seek help. If a cyst ruptures, you could experience a medical emergency. In addition to cramps, fever or vomiting are symptoms of a ruptured ovarian cyst.

Pregnancy

Cramps could be normal your pregnancy. In the first trimester, your expanding uterus triggers mild cramping. Your second trimester brings muscle cramps as your body stretches to accommodate fetal growth. But both these cramps should be mild and occasional, If they’re strong or frequent, tell your OBGYN right away.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

This condition is usually tied to an sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. It’s a sign of infection in your reproductive organs, and it can cause painful cramps, fever, burning when you pee, and smelly discharge.

Inflammatory bowel disease

This chronic condition damages your digestive system. With IBD, its hard to digest food, and that triggers a range of symptoms. Abdominal pain and cramping is common, as are diarrhea, blood in your stool, loss of appetite, and weight loss. 

Endometriosis

This is a chronic disorder in which your uterine tissue grows outside your uterus. It’s often a cause of cramping between periods, but it also causes heavy periods and painful sex.

Diagnosing Cramping Between Periods

We hope this guide can help you determine the cause of your non-menstrual cramps. But we also hope you talk to your doctor about all your symptoms. That way, you can get the right diagnosis, and be on your way to relief.

Remember, it’s often your other symptoms that can help you get a diagnosis. Because fibroids can cause many painful symptoms, in addition to cramping between periods. Which is why so many women choose to treat their tumors. And, for many women, non-invasive treatment options like Uterine Fibroid Embolization will provide relief from symptoms! If you suspect you have fibroids, or have a diagnosis already, call our Houston fibroid specialists today to see if UFE is right for you!

Sources: Insider

Why is My Period so Heavy?

Why is my period so heavy? It’s a question many women have to ask. Almost no woman is a huge fan of menstruating. But sometimes a heavy flow is really too heavy. If you’re soaking through a pad or tampon every few hours, it could be a sign that your menstrual flow is abnormal or problematic. Want to know why? Here are 8 groups of women at risk for menorrhagia. (This is a condition characterized by heavy menstrual bleeding.) And a few things you can do if you’re in a high-risk group.

Why is My Period so Heavy? I have Fibroids

Women with fibroids have a higher risk for a heavy period. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that typically develop in your uterus. They often lead to heavy menstrual bleeding, And, for some women, they can cause infertility. Studies reveal that, for about 10% of women who ask “Why is my period so heavy”, the answer is  fibroids.

Women with Polycystic ovarian syndrome

This condition is associated with irregular and infrequent periods. PCOS causes growths to develop around a woman’s cervix or uterus; the growths are either the result of high estrogen levels or are caused by infections. Because periods are irregular with PCOS, the uterine lining has a longer time to thicken, adding to the volume of a woman’s menstrual blood and making her flow abnormally heavy.

Women with Endometriosis

With endometriosis, tissue that’s similar to the lining of your uterus travels out of the uterus. When a woman with endometriosis menstruates, she sheds all of the lining tissue, regardless of its location. And that makes her period very heavy.

Women with Changing Hormones

When a woman is dealing with a hormonal imbalance—either low or high levels—she can experience irregular ovulation. And that can make her ask “Why is my period so heavy?”  As with other conditions that affect your menstrual cycle, hormonal imbalances that give you less frequent periods can make the periods you do have extra heavy.

Clotting Problems Change Periods

Certain genetic conditions, or even certain medications, can affect your body’s ability to form blood clots. While this problem is extremely rare, if you are one of the women affected by a natural or medical bleeding disorder, your periods may become very heavy.

IUDs Could Mean Heavier Periods

An IUD or intrauterine device is a long term form of birth control that’s implanted in your uterus. In certain cases, IUDS—especially ones that don’t contain hormones—can cause you to experience a heavier than normal period.

Black Women Have a Higher Risk

Research shows that 39% of Black women deal with heavy periods. That’s a higher percentage than in other groups of women. Which may be related to Black women’s increased risk for fibroids.

Obesity Can Make Periods Heavier

When you carry extra weight, your hormonal balance shifts. (See the risk factor above.) For obese women (who have a BMI of 30 or above) the risk increases further, because fat cells produce estrogen. And, with too much estrogen, your uterine lining will thicken. And, when it’s time to shed that lining at the end of the month, your period will be heavier.

Only your doctor can determine the specific cause of your heavy menstrual flow. If you are dealing with heavy periods and want some answers, schedule a consultation with our highly trained fibroid physicians right away. Don’t wait for another cycle to find relief!

Sources: International Journal of Gynecalogic Obstetrics

Got a Changing Period? It Could be Age, Fibroids…or these 8 other issues!

Our world changed drastically in the last few months…and with it, you may notice your changing period, too! If you’ve noticed changes to your menstrual cycle since the start of the pandemic, you’re probably not alone. As it turns out, the stress of COVID-19 and a global pandemic are changing periods for women. 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 have persisted for more than a few months, it’s worth exploring these other potential causes of period changes that affect your monthly cycle.

A Changing Period could mean Fibroids

Fibroids can be responsible for your changing periods: from your cycle length to the heaviness of your flow, 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 Changing 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.

Medical Conditions that Trigger a Changing Period

Certain other problems can also trigger changes in the length of your cycle or the heaviness of your flow. In addition to fibroids, changes in your uterine structure, such as polyps or endometriosis, could also change your period. When conditions like PCOS or thyroid problems affect your hormone levels, your period could also change. The same is true if you’re under lots of stress (see our earlier note about the pandemic.) Or if you go on an extreme diet, over-exercise or suffer from a condition such as anorexia or bulimia. Finally, abnormal bleeding (especially bleeding after menopause) could be a symptom of certain gynecologic cancers. So if changes in your period occur after your period has stopped, that should be a sign to see your doctor immediately!

Now, keep in mind: 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 about a changing period? 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! And if you suspect that fibroids are behind the changes in your cycle, come see our Houston fibroid specialists right away so you can learn your fibroid treatment options!

Sources: Health Central, Huffpost.com, Edward-Elmhurst Health

There’s Hidden Danger in Black Hair Products

There’s a lot of focus on black hair products when it comes to understanding why women get fibroids. You see, uterine fibroids are just worse for black women than for any other group. African Americans develop these tumors three times as often as women of other races. Plus, their fibroids develop earlier–often in their twenties. In comparison, most white women don’t get fibroids until their 30s.

But that’s not all. With fibroids, black women are more likely to develop anemia with fibroids. They also have a higher risk for fibroids symptoms such as painful sex, severe pelvic pain and heavy periods.

Of course, those are scary statistics. But what’s worse? We don’t have concrete explanations for the disparities. What we do have, however, are theories. And one of those theories has to do with hair styling.

Could Black Hair Products Impact Fibroids?

Hair products–can’t live without ’em, right? Well, as it turns out, it also may not be wise to live with them. 

According to the Silent Spring Institute, many of the hair products marketed to black women are full of harmful chemicals. Ever wondered why they smell so bad? It’s basically the poisons inside them. They’re just revealing their nature.

In fact, there is some science to back up this claim. A 2017 Rutgers University study linked breast cancer and Black women’s use of hair relaxers. A 2012 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology associated fibroid risk with the use of hair relaxers. Shirley McDonald of the Hair and Scalp Clinic says, “We now know that many hair products contain chemicals that are considered carcinogenic and/or hormone disrupters, leading to increased risk of medical issues such as fibroids (non-cancerous tumors that grow in the uterus, potentially damaging fertility and leading to a host of other complications). Trichologists see lots of conditions that are likely to be triggered by hair products, particularly central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, a type of permanent hair loss to the crown area of the scalp.”

Chemicals in Black Women’s Hair Products

Among the many dangerous substances in black women’s hair products? Cyclosiloxanes, nonylphenols (also found in certain detergents), and phthalates (also found in plastics, they are the main reason people are working to ban plastics from food containers.) Besides their toxicity, each of these chemicals share a common bond–they have all been linked to hormone disruption as well as an increased risk of developing fibroids, asthma, infertility, and even cancer. That’s a hefty price to pay for shinier hair.

Throwing Flames on the Fire

Being exposed to these chemicals is particularly troubling for black women, as they already have a higher risk of developing fibroids than other populations of women. Family history plays a part in that risk. And some people suggest that higher obesity rates may also be at issue.

But, more and more, certain hair products are also starting to shoulder the blame. According to the Silent Spring study mentioned earlier, 80% of Black hair products they tested contained “endocrine-disrupting and asthma-causing chemicals.” Products examined included by the study included relaxers, hot oil treatments, leave-in conditioners, and anti-frizz balms. The scariest statistic? Hair relaxers that specifically targeted children had the highest levels of chemicals; many of those chemicals have already been banned in the EU.

New Evidence Links Relaxers to Female Cancers two friends talking together

Of course, fibroids are a major problem. But hair relaxers are linked to so many other health problems. In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) just released results from an eight-year study. They followed over 46,000 women, of all races between the ages of 35–74. And they found a link between chemical hair relaxers and breast cancer. Perhaps not surprisingly, African American women had a 45 percent increased risk of breast cancer as compared to women of other races.

Taking Action

While you can’t do anything about your family history, being selective about the hair products you choose can certainly go along way towards protecting your health. To find out more about dangerous hair care products and your individual fibroid risk, please contact our Houston fibroid specialists office for a consultation with Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee.

Sources: NY Times parenting, Silent Spring Institute, NIH

Yoga for Period Pain Can Manage Fibroid Symptoms

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

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

Using Yoga for Period Pain

If a heavy period and cramps bother you each month, try these yoga poses in addition to your regular practice. They’re designed to ease pelvic pain, cramps and more.

1. Child’s Pose  

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

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

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

2. Forward Fold

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

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

3. Knees-to-Chest Pose

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

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

4. Cat/Cow

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

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

Period Protection for Your Yoga Practice (and the Environment)

If you’re dealing with a heavy period, you may avoid exercise. Even if it’s yoga designed to relieve your pain. But that’s a bad idea, since exercising on your period is important for your overall health. And for fibroid relief.

We know you might worry about leaking during exercise. And that’s why you may want to check out this smart new invention: period pants from Modibodi! Because this type of menstrual protection replaces your regular underwear, you can wear a tampon as well during exercise. That way, you can feel secure about flowing through your yoga poses. Without leaking through your clothing.

Then, as an added bonus, consider this fact. When you choose period pants over pads, you can reduce your ecological footprint. Because washable period plants could make a major dent in the nearly 11,000 disposable feminine hygiene products the average woman tosses out in her lifetime. (Remember, that’s average. But women with fibroids tend to have heavy periods. And, for our purposes, a heavy period means you soak through a super tampon every hour or sooner. Meaning you probably use more than the average woman.)

Once you feel confident about your feminine hygiene protection, we hope you try out yoga for period pain. Because yoga can a wonderful option to help you cope with the painful menstrual side effects of fibroids.  Just don’t forget: even the best yoga pose won’t offer permanent fibroid pain relief. If monthly fibroid symptoms are interfering with your daily activities, it’s time to explore other treatment options. So make an appointment with your Houston fibroid specialists today. Together, we can review all your treatment options!.

Sources:  The Daily Mail, Do You Yoga

Can CBD Tampons and Lube Relieve Period and Sex Pain?

Have you heard about CBD tampons and lube relieving period pain or painful sex? These days, there’s a lot of discussion about cannabidiol (CBD) products. Derived from the cannabis (marijuana) plant, CBD offers many potential 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 CBD tampons and CBD lubricant on the market, designed to relieve menstrual pelvic pain or help make sex less painful.

Since painful periods and pain with sex are two common fibroid symptoms, these are two products our doctors want to learn more about. So far, what we’ve discovered is that some women find 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 and CBD lubes really work, and learn how women with period pain or painful sex will be affected by their use.

What are CBD Tampons?

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.

Now, let’s take a look at CBD lube, to see if this cannabinoid-infused product could help make sex with fibroids less painful.

What is CBD Lube?

CBD lube is, quite simply, a personal lubricant infused with cannabidiol. Fans of this product say that it helps relieve everything from pelvic pain to anxiety about sex. (Both of which may be a problem if you’re living with fibroids.)

Now, fortunately, the CBD doesn’t relieve pain by numbing your body. Instead, evidence suggests that the lube can improve your blood flow, which helps you relax and focus on feeling good while you’re intimate with your partner.

While our doctors can’t guarantee that CBD lube will deliver pain relief, there should be few downsides if you choose a product with all-natural ingredients. Adding any kind of lubricant with sex can reduce the physical pain of intimacy, so a CBD lube should be fine to try, as long as you review your product choice with your doctor.

Fighting Fibroid Symptoms

Whether it’s CBD tampons or CBD lube, certain products can temporarily relieve your fibroid pain. Unfortunately, they won’t offer a permanent solution: they can just buy you time until you choose a permanent fibroid treatment. Ready to put painful sex and periods in your past? Our Houston fibroid experts are here to help. All you have to do is schedule a consultation, to learn more about treating your painful fibroid tumors.

Sources: healthline.com, huffpost.com, SF Gate

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