Category: Fibroid Symptoms

#WCW: Got a Heavy Period? This 85-lb weight loss winner relates!

If you have a heavy period, it’s more than just a drag. It can make you live in fear, always searching for the nearest bathroom, armed with spare clothes in case of leaks. That was the case for Tamika Warren-Jenkins, an Indianapolis woman who suffered from a heavy menstrual cycle for years, without realizing fibroids were to blame.

Some women are more at risk for heavy flow than others. And there’s lots of reasons your period gets heavy (we’ll go through them shortly. Because it’s important to know your why, so you can determine if you need to seek medical care.) But first, let’s talk about Tamika’s experience, and what it means to have a ‘heavy’ period. weight loss for heavy periods

Tamika’s Story: Family History and Weight Loss Efforts

While Takima’s mom and three aunts all had fibroids, she says it wasn’t something the family talked about. So, when Tamika started experiencing debilitating symptoms such as heavy periods, she didn’t immediately suspect fibroids.

By 2017, she told WishTV, she knew these non-cancerous tumors were responsible. But, instead of reviewing all her treatment options, her doctor suggested dropping extra weight to lower her estrogen levels. (While we don’t know what causes fibroids, high hormonal levels may contribute to their growth and development.)

Desperate for relief, Tamika says, “I put in the work. Because the first thing they said was less hormones, less estrogen. So if it’s less estrogen in your body, then they shouldn’t grow as fast. They should shrink. That was the thought at the time, but it didn’t happen that way.” Even though she dropped an incredible 85 pounds!

A Different Way Forward

Even after her weight transformation, Tamika found no relief from heavy periods. So, since she already had two children, and didn’t want more, she opted to treat her fibroids with a hysterectomy.

Ultimately, this decision was the right one for Tamika, who says she’s now living symptom-free. But not every woman needs to lose her uterus to find fibroid relief. And that’s why Tamika wants everyone to know her story. She says, “I know reproductive health is like, ugh, I don’t want to talk about that, but you do need to talk about it.” Which is why she’s our Woman Crush of the Week. And why we want you to read all about why Tamika, and other women, might be at higher risk for heavy periods.

Who’s at Risk for a Heavy Period?

Any woman, especially Black woman, with an increased fibroid risk is more likely to have a heavy period. In fact, about 39% of black women experience heavy bleeding at that time of the month. (And 70% of black women will likely develop fibroids.)

But fibroids aren’t the only condition that can affect your monthly flow. If you have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), your periods will probably be irregular. Still, when they do come, they are likely to be heavier than normal.

Also, women who are obese (with a BMI that’s 30 or higher), and women with copper IUDs have a higher risk for heavy periods. Finally, thyroid conditions, as well as health conditions that put you on blood thinners, could also leave you with a heavy flow each month.

Of course, sometimes a heavy period is no big deal. But sometimes, heavy flow can negatively impact other areas of your help. So keep reading to find out if you need medical help for your heavy period.

How Can I Tell if a Heavy Period is 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: International Journal of Obstetrics and GynecologyPrevention Magazine, Oprah Magazine

These 4 Fibroid Myths are Worth Forgetting

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

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

MYTH #1: Untreated Fibroids Will Keep On Growing 

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

But here’s the tricky part: it’s hard to know what kind of growth pattern your fibroid will follow. For that reason, even if you decide to delay treatment, you will want to see your doctor regularly to monitor tumor development. And remember, the smaller your fibroid, the more treatment options available to you.

Fibroid MYTHs #2: Fibroids must be removed.

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

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

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

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

MYTH #4: Menopause Cures Fibroids

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

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

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

Here’s How Period Pain Hurts Your Career

Women with fibroids know that period pain is a big deal, but did you know it could be a pain on the job, too? In a new Dutch study, researchers found that women lose almost nine productive work and school days each year because of painful periods!

Periods Take Women off the Job

For the study, published in the BMJ, researchers followed over 32,000 women ages 15-45. They watched how often the women missed work or school, and how often they showed up in pain, losing productivity. What they found was upsetting: 13.8 percent of the women reported missing work during their periods. Another 3.4 percent reported taking time off from school or work almost every time they had their periods. And even when they showed up, 80.7% of women reported being unproductive on the job when dealing with their periods. In all, period pain takes a major toll on women in the school and workforce.

Fibroids Mess with your Period…and so much more

Many of the women in this study were simply dealing with typical menstrual cramps. Now, imagine if the women in the study were all dealing with fibroids, which can make your period longer, heavier and more painful. We’re guessing those absent and unproductive days would only increase!l

Of course, heavy, painful periods aren’t the only way fibroids can hurt your body. Studies show that about 30% of women with fibroids also experience painful sex, back pain, pelvic pain or other discomforts. Like your period pain, these fibroid symptoms could show up intermittently. Or, for some women, fibroid pain could be chronic. And, either way, it can interfere with your lifestyle, making you skip workouts, work days or more.

So, that’s the bad news…but here’s the good. Even if you have fibroids, painful periods don’t have to be your forever problem. There are non-invasive treatment options that can alleviate your symptoms without surgery or hospital stays. Want to learn more? Set up a consultation with our Houston-area fibroid specialists to learn if you are a good candidate for Uterine Fibroid Embolization.

Sources: https://bmjopen.bmj.com

 

Why Does my Stomach Hurt After Sex?

When your stomach hurts after sex, it’s upsetting. And it makes intimacy challenging. Plus, this symptom’s confusing: why would your stomach hurt after you’re done with intimacy? We totally understand your confusion! So, to get to the bottom of this symptom, we’re reviewing some common causes of post-coital stomach pain.

Why Does My Stomach Hurt After Sex?

We know it’s scary when something that’s supposed to feel good leaves you in pain. But, before you panic, get armed with information! Here are four possible reasons why your stomach hurts after having sex.

1. Fibroids can make your stomach hurt after sex.

Fibroids are non-cancerous uterine tumors that may cause pain during sex. And do you know one common fibroid symptom? These growths can leave you with non-menstrual cramping. Which can make your stomach hurt after sex. Of course, they can also make your period cramps torturous. Or trigger sharp, stab-like stomach pains.

(Fibroids also cause pelvic pain, back pain and lots of pressure in your pelvic region. At least for 30% of women with these growths.)

What to do: We can diagnose fibroids with a pelvic ultrasound or MRI. If you receive a fibroid diagnosis, know that you don’t have to have surgery to find relief!  Be sure to discuss all treatment possibilities with your doctor.

2. You may have endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a condition in which bits of your uterine lining make their way out of your uterus. When you have endometriosis of the pelvis, your organs in that area may adhere to each other. So, if deep penetration is painful, this could be why your stomach hurts after sex .

What to do: Endometriosis can be difficult to diagnose, so you’ll want to discuss your entire medical history, including your stomach pain, with your doctor. If you have enough symptoms to suggest endometriosis may be the culprit, you will have to undergo laparoscopic surgery to receive a diagnosis. After you are diagnosed, birth control pills or certain other medications can help control your symptoms.

3. You could have a pelvic cyst.

Ovarian cysts are typically harmless, fluid-filled sacs that develop in or on your ovary. And, while they don’t require treatment, pelvic cysts are a different story. These cysts are often a sign of infection or problematic anatomical issues.

What to do: You can diagnose a pelvic cyst via ultrasound. usually, pelvic cysts are removed via minimally invasive surgery

4. An infection may be to blame.

Pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID) is a type of vaginal infection. It’s triggered when bacteria from your vagina  spreads to your uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. One common PID side effect is widespread vaginal pain that’s  mistaken for stomach pain. Unfortunately, untreated PID leads to scarring and lasting stomach pain, even after your infection clears up.

What to do: See your doctor right away. If you catch an infection early on, symptoms can usually be cleared up quickly with antibiotics. If, however, scarring and/or PID has set in, more invasive treatments may be necessary.

Treating Stomach Pain That Occurs After Sex

So, now we’ve gone over some of the ‘scary’ reasons that your stomach may hurt after sex. Of course, there are some other, less problematic, causes of post-coital stomach pain—you’ve tried a new position, or you’re not using enough lube. But sex should feel good. And stomach pain doesn’t. So talk to your doc right away if pain during or after intercourse happens more than once.

Do you suspect that fibroids are causing your post coital pain? Come see our Houston specialists to learn your treatment options. Other fibroids symptoms include heavy periods, bloating, and pelvic pain, even when you aren’t engaged in intercourse.

Sources: Healthline.com

Learn Your Fibroid Risk, Diagnosis and Effect Info

When it comes to your health, it’s important to know your fibroid risk–plus what it means for your health if you get this diagnosis. Many women have heard about fibroids (benign tumors that develop in or on a woman’s uterus) but don’t know much more than the name. Here is our quick cheat sheet for really understanding these tumors:

What’s Your Fibroid Risk?

Before we get started, we have to be clear: we still don’t the exact reason why women get fibroids. But, thanks to recent studies, we do have a clearer picture of what raises women’s fibroid risk.

First, we know that race plays a major role in your fibroid risk. While any woman can develop fibroids, the ones at highest risk: have a family history, are Black or Hispanic, and/or have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). In fact, according to a recent study in the BJOG Journal, black women have a two-threefold higher fibroid risk. That’s why about 70% of black women develop fibroids, according to the study. And it may be why European women have a lower fibroid risk than women in the U.S.: the racial mix in populations is very different.

Still, as more Caucasian women present with elevated BMIs, their fibroid risk has also increased. And we know, thanks to this study, 11 other factors that increase your fibroid risk. These include your age (risk decreases as you get older), premenopausal state, hypertension, family history and the time since your last birth. (Having more full-term pregnancies seems to decreases your fibroid risk. Breastfeeding could also impact your fibroid risk. That’s because your ovarian hormones decrease when you nurse. ) Smoking or consuming certain food additives or soybean milk may also increase your chances of getting fibroids.

In some cases, the use of oral contraceptives or the injectable contraceptive depot medroxyprogesterone acetate increased your fibroid risk. That’s not necessarily surprising, since we know that two things make fibroids grow: hormones, especially estrogen, and blood supply.

But, while some forms of birth control increase your fibroid risk, we can also often control fibroid growth with birth control pills. And, we can shrink the tumors by cutting off their blood supply using a procedure called UFE (uterine fibroid embolization.)

Genetic Fibroid Risks

We are constantly discovering other fibroid risk factors, and recently, scientists from the University of Helsinki uncovered a genetic link. After monitoring 728 women with 2263 tumors, researchers grouped their fibroids by  genetic variants.

For most women, these fibroids fell neatly into one of three. But a number of the fibroids didn’t fit into previously identified categories. Instead, they showed variations that cells’ histone activity. (Histones help shape and control genes.activity.)

After seeing this variation, the researchers discovered an inherited fibroid risk. Women with certain genetic mutations have a higher risk of developing tumors.  As a result, with more research, women with these mutations could receive counseling and regular fibroid screening. In that way, it could be easier to detect and diagnose any developing growths in their earliest stages.

How Can I Confirm my Fibroid Diagnosis? heavy periods change your life

If you are experiencing fibroid symptoms like heavy periods, pelvic pain, incontinence or constipation, your doctor may check you for fibroids. Usually, you’ll be diagnosed with a pelvic exam and a pelvic sonogram. You may need a transvaginal sonogram to determine if the fibroid has affected your uterine lining.

As soon as you’ve been diagnosed, you’ll need to consider your treatment options. And remember that you do have options: not all fibroid diagnoses will end in surgery. In fact, there are minimally invasive fibroid treatments that can help you find relief. But the option you choose will largely depend on the type of symptoms you’re currently experiencing.

How will Fibroids Impact my Life?

Once you know you have fibroids, you have lots of options. If you aren’t bothered by symptoms, you may just monitor the tumor(s). With fibroids that are small, birth control, diet and exercise may keep them from causing you pain. But if pregnancy is important to you, the location of your fibroids will also be important. Fibroids that grow in the uterine cavity or block the fallopian tubes may affect your fertility.

If symptoms or infertility send you in search of relief, it’s important to research all your treatment options. While some doctors may recommend surgery (myomectomy or hysterectomy), we like to explore less invasive options. To learn more about non-surgical fibroid treatments schedule a consult today with our Houston area fibroid experts.

Sources: International Journal of Fertility and SterilityBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 

What Helps Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

Do you know the warning signs of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS)? (Also known as ovarian vein reflux?) While pelvic pain, incontinence and uterine fibroids often go hand in hand, these are also red flags for other serious conditions. One such problem is PCS, a medical problem that is triggered by internal varicose veins in your lower abdomen and pelvis. fibroids treatment

Typically, these veins are in your ovaries. They form with vein reflux (when blood flows backwards in your veins). The kind of pelvic pain connected with PCS is more of a chronic ache; some women describe the sensation of someone tugging or pulling in their pelvis.

PCS is a long-term condition, meaning symptoms will stick around, but with this problem, the pain can be made worse when you first stand up or first sit down. Lying down, on the other hand, can provide relief from the pain of PCS.

In addition to pain in your pelvis, PCS can trigger an irritable bowel and/or bladder and painful sex. PCS may also cause visible varicose veins to appear in or around your vulva, vagina, perineum and anus.

While PCS is fairly common, it is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms mimic other conditions, and the root cause of the problem is buried deep within your body. And that was the case Johnelle Mercer, a 19-year old woman from Las Vegas who spent years suffering before finally getting diagnosed.

Woman Crush Wednesday #WCW: Journey to PCS Diagnosis

From the time of her very first period, Mercer experienced terrible pelvic pain. Her periods were very heavy, and she lived with breakthrough bleeding between periods. But every time she discussed her symptoms with doctors, they told her she was just stuck with bad periods.

Sick of being ignored and dismissed, this brave young woman kept advocating to get a diagnosis that would offer pain relief. Finally, at the age of 19, she received that diagnosis: PCS. We’re celebrating her as our Woman Crush of the Week for refusing to be ignored. (And for sharing her PCS diagnosis experience with this viral Tik Tok video.)

Also, we’re helping you understand more about this hard-to-diagnose source of pelvic pain. Because we want you to find relief sooner than Johnelle did. And, with that in mind, here’s what you need to know about PCS in order to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment:

What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

When too much blood builds up in your pelvic, you develop this painful PCS condition. And internal varicose veins are often at fault. Individuals with PCS will experience a dull, aching pelvis period over an extended period of time. Women are more likely to develop PCS than men, but both genders can be affected.

When men are affected by PCS, the condition is easier to diagnose and treat, because two of men’s four pelvic veins are visible on the outside of their bodies. Because all of women’s pelvic veins are invisible on the surface of their bodies, PCS can be harder to spot for women. Most women with PCS have previously been pregnant, but even women who’ve never had a pregnancy can develop the condition.

Typically, we think of PCS as a problem for premenopausal women. Recently, studies suggest that menopause doesn’t always offer relief from PCS. In fact, it turns out that some women first develop symptoms after menopause. Clearly, we need to learn more about the causes of this condition.

Why do symptoms develop?

As we already mentioned, PCS develops because of varicose pelvic veins. Varicose veins in the pelvis begin to develop when their valves fail, causing blood that should be pushed out of the pelvis to stick around in the area instead of traveling back to the heart. When this happens, the veins become dilated and put pressure on sensitive areas of the pelvis and on the pelvic floor muscles (the ones you exercise when doing your kegels.)

Again, women who’ve had at least one pregnancy are also more likely to develop this condition. And that’s likely because carrying a baby brings more blood flow to the area.

Still, we aren’t clear why your valves would fail. Sometimes, the cause seems to be late-pregnancy injury. In other cases, excess estrogen may be the cause, since the hormone can widen your blood vessels. PCS may also be a secondary symptom for people with May-Thurner syndromes. Regardless of the cause, the condition presents with uniform symptoms.

What are the symptoms of PCS?

PCS usually causes women to experience pain deep in their pelvis or uterus; the pain is usually dull or aching rather than sharp or intense. PCS pain gets worse all day, especially if you exercise.

While PCS pain is typically dull, changes in posture or heavy lifting can cause women to experience sharp pains in their abdominal area. With PCS, sex and periods can also become more painful.

Some women with PCS also have bladder symptoms that include a frequent need to pee, frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom and even incontinence. Many women will also develop vaginal or vulvar varicose veins. On diagnostic imaging, we’ll also notice an increase in the volume of your pelvic veins. And for men and women, PCS can also cause or worsen conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or lead to chronic fatigue and back pain.

Can I treat PCS?

We typically diagnose PCS with an ultrasound scan.  Then, your Houston interventional radiologists treat PCS easily, with Pelvic Vein Embolisation (PVE). (This is a procedure that’s similar to Uterine Fibroid Embolization, or UFE.)

We use a local anesthetic for this x-ray technique. Guided by ultrasound, we’ll insert a catheter (thin tube) in your vein, pushing into the problematic pelvic vein. Once there, we deposit embolizing material to permanently block off the vein or veins causing your PCS symptoms. After, blood can’t build up in the area. Your vein will shrink and symptoms should resolve quickly.

With proper care and a minimally invasive procedure, we can quickly treat and resolve PCS. Our highly trained vein specialists can easily spot your PCS symptoms and recommend a treatment plan. If you’re experiencing dull, aching pelvic pain, you should schedule a consultation right away. We can even meet remotely, with a Telemedicine appointment, if that’s easier for your current schedule. Remember, you don’t have to live with chronic pelvis pain—you just need to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment plan!

Sources: www.Cedars-Sinai.Org

Are all fibroids the same?

If you’re wondering, are all fibroids the same, this read’s for you! All fibroids, (also called myomas or leiomyomas) are non-cancerous growths of muscular tissues. They all develop in and on a woman’s uterus. Yet not all fibroids will develop in the same location, or cause the same symptoms. That’s why we tend to classify fibroids based on where with the uterus they develop.

The Three Types of Fibroids are all fibroids the same

There are three different fibroid classifications.  Intramural fibroids grow almost entirely within the wall of the uterus.  Submucosal tumors grow from the uterine wall and push into the cavity of the uterus. Subserosal fibroids grow out of the uterine lining, poking through the uterine wall. Your symptoms may be different from another woman’s depending on the type or location of your fibroids. But, for all women with fibroids, symptoms tend to fall in three main categories:

  • Pain
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Pressure

Location Based Symptoms

Bleeding
For all women, fibroids can cause long, heavy periods and/or bleeding even when it’s not that time of the month. All fibroids affect blood flow to the uterus in some way, which is why your period typically gets heavier. Women with submucosal fibroids typically experience the heaviest periods, because they push your uterine lining into the cavity, greatly expanding its reach. Heavy bleeding is a symptom that should be addressed right away with your doctor, since, over time, it can make you anemic.

Pain 
Mild discomfort or cramping is often a normal part of your menstrual cycle: the cramps are caused by slight changes to your uterus as you shed its lining. When you have fibroids, the changes to the uterus are more significant, which is why your cramps are likely to be stronger and more painful with these tumors. Women with intramural or subserosal fibroids may also experience lower back pain, as their enlarged uterus pushes against the muscles of the back. And women with fibroid tumors located near the cervical opening may experience pain during sex, although certain positions will be more comfortable than others.

Pressure
Women with fibroids often experience pressure or heaviness in the pelvis because the tumors increase the size of their uterus. Women with subserosal fibroids may become constipated or feel the need to urinate frequently, as their uterine lining expands and places pressure on either the bladder or the rectum.

 

Changes in Size and Symptoms heavy periods change your life

When your uterine tumors get large, that can make your symptoms worse. It may also limit your treatment options, since larger growths could require more aggressive treatment. Or, if the growths get too large, you may experience something called fibroid degeneration.

What is this condition? Well, it’s something that happens when your tumors are so large, they can’t survive with existing blood supplies. As a result, they start to break apart and die.

Now, while this sounds like an easy solution to your condition, it actually isn’t. Because, while your growths temporarily get smaller, they’ll likely grow back again. Plus, while they degenerate, you may experience painful symptoms such as sharp pain and fevers.

These growths may degenerate at any time, but it’s most common during pregnancy. One condition, known as red degeneration, almost exclusively affects pregnant women. It’s called red degeneration because the fibroids appear red in color as they break apart. During pregnancy, this may lead to heavy bleeding, so your OB may need to carefully monitor your pregnancy.

Are all Fibroids the Same? Calcification

When these growths degenerate, they may harden around the edges. (We call that calcification.) But in some cases, the entire tumor calcifies, making it resemble a hard lump instead of a muscular growth.

Once this happens, your other symptoms may get worse. Or, the hardened growth could block your vagina, causing a condition known as vaginal prolapse. Calcification often impacts women who have gone through menopause. But this shift could happen at any time after your diagnosis, possibly impacting your desire to seek treatment.

As you can see, the size and location of uterine growths can change the way you feel, or limit your treatment options. But, regardless of where your fibroids are located, and no matter which symptoms you find most bothersome, relief is available, often without surgery. Contact our Houston area fibroid specialists to learn if you are a candidate for our minimally-invasive fibroid treatment.

 

Sources: healthline.com, mayoclinic.org, verywellhealth.com 

 

 

 

#WCW: How Olivia Beat Painful Sex with Fibroids

As Houston based fibroid specialists, we know that painful sex 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. You shouldn’t consider these normal parts of your period. In fact, if your period makes you miss work, or lasts longer than seven days, that’s a sign you need to talk to your doctor about fibroids. The same is true if you have to change your pad or tampon before two hours pass.

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 resurgence. 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.

Raising Fibroid Awareness in Houston, One Dress at a Time

July was National Fibroid Awareness in several cities and states, and Houston has joined that group now, which is something we’re very excited about. So, in recognition of her efforts, we honor Tamika Gray Valburn, founder of The White Dress Project. For years, Tanika suffered with fibroids. Her mom lost two sets of twins because of her own fibroids. But even with the family history, Tamika didn’t make the connection to her own diagnosis!

In fact, Valburn’s fibroids were diagnosed in her late teens. At that point, she’d experienced years of painful symptoms. “You just think it will skip a generation,” she’s explained in interviews. “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.

Living with Fibroid Symptoms

Because Valburn’s fibroids triggered heavy periods, she “learn[ed] 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. So, in 2014, Tanika earned a Georgia state representative’s support in declaring July as Fibroid Awareness Month. The goal? Helping women get the crucial health information they need.

But she didn’t stop there. Tanika realized that she 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 fibroid awareness, supporting research, and bringing together a community of women who work to empower one another.  After all, this is crucial. According to the CDC, one in three women will have a hysterectomy by the time she turns 60. But, according to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 18.3% of those hysterectomies aren’t medically necessary. So, why do women have these surgeries? They don’t know about other options!

That’s where Tanika and her project want to make a difference. And they’ve made white dresses their symbol, as it signified a major milestone in Tanika’s recovery: the moment she could rock a white dress without any fear. (Because minimally invasive surgery helped resolve her painful fibroid symptoms.) Now, the white dress has become a symbol of strength and power to other women dealing with fibroids. And it’s just one more step in the crucial fight to take control of women’s menstrual health issues. Especially for Black women like Tanika, who are disproportionately at risk for avoidable hysterectomies. And for the serious complications that often come with open surgery. 

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!

Sources: The White Dress Project, Healio Primary Care

Check out 2 New Ways to Stop Period Pain

Do you want to stop period pain? You’re not alone! Many women with fibroids suffer from extremely painful periods. But thanks to a newly-developed hi-tech patch, plus more emerging efforts, theirs and other women’s menstrual pain may finally be a thing of the past.

Hi Tech Cramps Relief to Stop Period Pain pain from uterine fibroids

The Allay is an ultra-thin patch you wear on your stomach. It pulses 1,000 times a second, delivering a small electric current through a wire loop. That current then  produces an undetectable magnetic field into the tissue of your abdomen. The field gets your cells to pump out any excess fluid. And that helps your body fight the bloating, swelling and pain that often accompany your period.

You can wear the patch for five full, 24-hour days before you have to remove it and recharge it’s battery. For most women, that will cover the  most painful part of your period, although fibroids can also make your period longer and heavier.

Still, in trials, the patch has been shown to reduce women’s pain levels by as much as 70%. That’s a big deal if period pain is dragging you down while you await fibroid treatment.

Product Awaits Further Trials

Although some women have already tested the effectiveness of Allay, more trials are currently underway. Currently, 60 women who suffer from period pain (dysmenorrhea) are participating in a two-month trial at the University of Birmingham.

The Allay reportedly reduces period pain levels by 31 per cent as soon as the first day you wear it! And 77 % of women wearing the Allay had at least some reduction in period pain. Only 14% of women who used other pain-relief methods experienced relief.

Currently Available Products

One Canadian company, Somedays, already has a full line of products designed to stop period pain. Currently, they offer four categories of relief products. There are heat and bath products to relieve cramps. And they have topical and edible products that help with muscle recovery which, according to their company’s research, helped relieve period pain.

Even better? The Vancouver, Canada based team keeps testing and trying out new products. So they expect to launch new products this fall. According to founder Lux Perry, “80% of people with periods…report having moderate to severe pain during their cycle. That’s like sitting on the sidelines for 10 entire years for some of us. If you believe that people with periods and predominantly women (because this is very much a gender equity issue) deserve to have the opportunity to actively participate in their lives then you believe in our mission.”

Well, Luz, we do believe in your mission. And we know that when your period pain is caused by fibroids, treating your tumors will offer you a more permanent solution to painful menstrual cycles. If you are ready to get started, contact our office and find out if you are a good candidate for our minimally invasive treatment options.

 

 

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