Category: Fibroid Symptoms

How Yoga Can Help Manage Period Pain

One of the most uncomfortable side effects of uterine fibroids is menstrual discomfort. 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 poses from Do You Yoga? The moves are all designed to target areas of your body that are specifically affected by period pain! 

Yoga Positions to Relieve Menstrual Pain

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.

 

Yoga can a wonderful option to help you cope with the painful menstrual side effects of fibroids, but even the best pose won’t offer permanent relief. If monthly fibroid symptoms are interfering with your daily activities, it’s time to explore other treatment options with your Houston fibroid specialists! 

Why Size Matters When it Comes to Fibroids

Many women are diagnosed with uterine fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that develop in and around the uterus, but not every fibroid diagnosis is the same. Did you know that fibroids can range in size from almost undetectable to the size of a grapefruit or, in extreme cases, the size of a fully grown fetus? 

While any size of fibroid can cause potential complications, common sense comes into play here: the bigger the uterine fibroid, the larger an impact it is likely to have on a woman’s health. This is especially true when it comes to side effects like weight gain and uterine bloating. 

Weight Gain with Fibroids
While most women will seek treatment early on in the fibroid process, some tumors grow to the “giant” size of 25 pounds or more–that’s a lot of extra weight to carry around! In fact, the largest ever recorded fibroid weighed a whopping 140 pounds! 

Of course, a woman’s uterus expands alongside larger fibroids. Even women with grapefruit-sized tumors will appear to gain more weight than just the extra pounds of their tumors. Larger fibroids can stretch a woman’s uterus to the point where she appears to be 4-5 months pregnant, not a look most women seek outside of pregnancy! 

Seeking Fibroid Treatment or Removal
Because larger fibroids can take such a toll on a woman’s health, it’s important to determine the size of a tumor before deciding on the course of treatment. 

Women with large fibroids should have them imaged for more exact measurements; once your doctor has those facts, you can decide together whether the tumor should be removed. There is, of course, a risk in delaying or foregoing treatment: left alone, your fibroids are likely to keep growing, causing more symptoms and unpleasant side effects.

Larger fibroids may also lead to complications such as: 

  • Impacting the uterine lining: fibroids found on the inside of your uterus may change the shape of your uterine lining. If not removed, they can impact your ability to become or stay pregnant.
  • Uterine damage: Fibroids that are larger than a three-month-old fetus can cause damage to your uterus during surgical removal, and should be treated before reaching that size. 
  • Ruptures: Very large fibroids may burst inside you, causing sudden, extreme pain. 
  • Blood clots: Though it is extremely uncommon, very large fibroids can cause you to develop a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in your lung), a potentially fatal complication. 

Because unchecked fibroid growth can lead to many complications, it’s important to begin exploring your treatment options as soon as you receive a diagnosis. Once you know how large your fibroids already are, you and your doctor can decide if they should be surgically removed or if other, less invasive options, may help you find relief from your symptoms. 

#WCW: Evette Dionne is a Fibroid Health Warrior

As Houston fibroid specialists determined to deliver minimally invasive treatment options for women, we often have an uphill battle. Many doctors don’t inform their patients that Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is one of their  treatment options (it is a procedure that starves fibroids of blood and oxygen, effectively killing them, through injections delivered via catheter.) Because not all doctors are on our team, many women with fibroids believe they must be treated by surgery. This week, we’ve discovered one woman who, after her own diagnosis, joined our fight to help fibroid patients learn their options. Here’s to you Evette Dionne, our Woman Crush of the Week! 

The Making of a Fibroid Warrior

For several years now Ms. Dionne, who happens to be editor in chief of Bitch Media, has been dealing with fibroids–non cancerous tumors that develop in and on the uterus. During that time, she has always felt comfortable advocating for her own best healthcare, but Dionne also realizes that not every woman is equally capable of doing so. Still, there wasn’t much she thought she could do–until one common fibroid-sufferer experience changed everything. 

 Rcently, Dionne had a two week menstrual period, something that’s not so unusual for women with fibroid tumors. She decided to tweet about it, because so many black women like herself suffer from fibroids, but don’t earn their doctors attention, leaving them with fibroids so large their only treatment option is hysterectomy. In her tweet, Dionne said: “Nearly every Black woman I know has fibroids, and nearly all of their doctors have told them it’s nothing to worry about. That’s a lie. You should be concerned, monitoring the fibroid’s growth through transvaginal ultrasounds, and getting second opinions.”

Since sending out that tweet, Dionne has launched a mini Twitter series on fibroid care, hoping her stewardship will help other Black women receive the best possible fibroid care. 

Finding the Right Balance Between Monitoring and Removing Fibroids
Diagnosed in 2015 with fibroids, Dionne tells Prevention magazine that she visits her gynecologist every six months for an ultrasound to monitor her fibroid growth. She also gets annual biopsies to make sure she’s shedding her uterine lining each month, and to ensure there are no cancerous cells in her uterus.

Still, Dionne says, some of her symptoms are very difficult to manage. “My doctor has experimented with different medications to control the bleeding, and so far, none have worked as intended. At some point, I will have to consider having the fibroid removed to eliminate the symptoms,” she says.

We support Dionne in her fibroid struggle, and we hope that, when the time comes for her to address the root cause of her symptom, she will be vocal in illuminating the surgical and non-surgical options available to her and other women suffering from their fibroid symptoms. 

Can I Slow Down Fibroid Growth?

Many women with fibroids have questions: why did I get this kind of tumor? How fast will it grow? What can I do to slow down or stop the growth in my fibroids?

While we don’t know what causes women to develop fibroids, we do have an understanding of what these tumors are and what factors may increase your risk of developing fibroids. We also know certain factors that affect fibroid growth. To help you gain a better understanding, let’s start at the beginning, with a basic explanation of fibroids.

This x-ray reveals a fairly large uterine fibroid

What are Fibroids? 

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in the wall of your uterus. Fibroids can grow alone or in clusters; they vary in size, from microscopically small to rare cases where they grow to the size of fully-developed fetus.

Fibroid symptoms can include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Painful periods
  • Bloating in the pelvic region
  • Lower back pain
  • Painful sex
  • Frequent need to pee

What Can Speed Up Fibroid Growth?
While your genes will play a role in how quickly fibroids grow, hormones like estrogen and progesterone also affect the growth of these tumors. Without these two hormones, fibroids are unable to grow which is why, in the past, causing a woman to experience menopause was considered the only cure for fibroids. Thankfully, we now know better and can offer women less dramatic treatment options. 

How Big Will My Fibroids Become?

It’s difficult to know how big a fibroid tumor will become–growth varies from person to person, predict how big a fibroid will grow or what causes a fibroid to grow rapidly. In some cases, fibroids even disappear without treatment. This however, is not common: most fibroids will grow larger unless you opt for medical intervention. 

So, just how big will your fibroids become? Honestly, the size limit is based only on your body’s ability to expand. Fibroids can stretch and enlarge your uterus to accommodate their own growth. In fact, some fibroids get so big that you appear to be in the second trimester of pregnancy! 

In extreme cases, fibroids will grow so large that doctors can only treat them with surgery. For this reason, it’s important to begin researching fibroid treatment options as soon as you receive a diagnosis. 

Can I Slow Down Fibroid Growth?
Certain steps, like adopting  a fibroid-friendly diet, may slow the growth of these tumors. Research suggests that dairy products like milk, cheese and ice cream may inhibit fibroid development. Green tea has also been shown to slow fibroid growth and, in some cases, even kill off existing fibroid cells. 

For some women, the hormones in certain forms of birth control can help slow fibroid development. 

When it comes to interventions that simply slow down fibroid development, there are no guarantees…that’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that we have better treatment options available. Instead of slowing fibroid growth, interventional radiologists like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee are able to use a method known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization to cut off the fibroid’s supply of blood and oxygen. This minimally invasive treatment causes fibroids to shrink and, eventually, die. Want to know if you’re a good candidate for UFE? Just reach out to our Houston area team and we’ll be happy to set you up with a comprehensive consultation. 

Heavy Periods: They’re More than Just Annoying

So, it’s that time of the month and, once again, you find yourself wondering how long you’ll be out of the house. Will you have access to a bathroom? Do you need to double up protection–a backup pad for your tampon, in the (likely) event that you’ll leak with just one in place?

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

It’s true! One potential side-effect of abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) is anemia, a condition caused by insufficient red blood cells in your blood. If anemia persists over time, it can even cause organ damage in your body! For our purposes, AUB is characterized by the need to change your tampon or pad every hour, or by symptoms like overnight soiling of your bedding. During a normal period, for comparisons, you can expect to change your tampon or pad every three hours–some women may even go longer, especially towards the end of the cycle. 

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

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

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

 

cations. 

Dr. Oz takes on Fibroids!

During their lifetime, most women will develop uterine fibroids–a type of benign tumor that can wreak havoc on your general and sexual health. In recognition of this widespread problem, Dr. Oz recently devoted an entire episode of his daytime talk show to discussing this widespread female health problem. 

In the show, Dr. Oz revealed that a shocking 70% of women are affected by fibroids, but most don’t know that they have a problem. How could that be? The reason is simple: too many women don’t know what symptoms they need to look for, or how to assess their fibroid risk. 

More About Fibroids

Fibroids are not cancerous, but they are abnormal growths in your uterus. Typically, they develop in pre-menopausal women.  They get larger thanks to estrogen stimulation, which means pregnancy can speed up fibroid growth. Women with fibroids can have normal pregnancies, but they need to be monitored carefully throughout. Some women with fibroids will have difficulty conceiving or carrying a baby to term. 

Diagnosing Fibroids
Your doctors can detect fibroid warning signs during a routine pelvic exam; if your uterus feels unusual, especially if it seems larger than normal, you may have fibroids. At that point, your doctor may recommend a pelvic ultrasound to complete your diagnosis.

Fibroid Symptoms
Fibroids can push on your bladder, making you pee much more or less than you normally do. Fibroids can also make your period flow much heavier than usual, and they can cause you to feel pressure and pain in your pelvic region. Many women with fibroids also experience back pain.  

Who’s At Risk? 

Women whose mom’s had fibroids, overweight women  and African-American women all have elevated fibroid risks. Of course, it’s important to note that not all at-risk women will develop fibroids. In the same way, women with no known risk factors may end up dealing with fibroids. 

Regardless of your history, it’s important to remember that fibroids don’t have to change your life. With today’s advancements in interventional radiology, fibroids can be treated without surgery. You DON’T need to have a hysterectomy to beat the pain. They key to treating fibroids is to discuss all your options with your doctor, and to make sure you choose the option that works best for your lifestyle and future family goals. 

 

Warning: Your Hair Products Could be Hurting You

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

According to a new study from the Silent Spring Institute, certain hair products, especially those marketed to black women, are full of dozens of extremely harmful chemicals. Ever wondered why they smell so bad? It’s basically the poisons inside them, revealing their true nature through their scent. 

There’s much more science to back up this claim. A 2017 study by researchers at Rutgers University found a link between 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 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. 

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 office for a consultation with Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee. 

 

Why is my period so heavy?

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 six common causes of menorrhagia (a condition characterized by heavy menstrual bleeding): 

1.    Fibroids
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that typically develop in a woman’s uterus. Though not inherently dangerous, they lead to heavy menstrual bleeding and, ultimately, infertility. Studies have revealed that approximately 10% of women who experience heavy periods have fibroids.

2. 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.

3. Endometriosis

With endometriosis, tissue that’s similar to the lining of the uterus develops outside of the uterus. When a woman with endometriosis menstruates, she sheds all of the lining tissue, regardless of its location, making her period very heavy.

4. Hormones

When a woman is dealing with a hormonal imbalance—either low or high levels—she can experience irregular ovulation, affecting periods. 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.

5. Clotting Problems

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.

6. IUDs

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.

 

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! 

What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

While pelvic pain, incontinence and uterine fibroids often go hand in hand, pain in your pelvis can be a red flag for other serious conditions. One such problem is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS), a medical problem that is triggered by internal varicose veins in your lower abdomen and pelvis. fibroids treatment

These varicose veins, which can’t be seen from the surface of your skin, are caused by reflux in your veins—typically, in the veins of your ovaries. 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. Here’s what you need to know about PCS in order to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment:

What is PCS?

PCS is a painful condition caused by a build-up of too much blood in your pelvis. As we mentioned before, it is usually caused by internal varicose veins. 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.

Why does Pelvic Congestion Syndrome 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.)

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. The pain of PCS gets worse throughout the day, and can be exacerbated by exercising.

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.

Can PCS be treated?

If diagnosed correctly (typically with an ultrasound scan) PCS is easily treated by Pelvic Vein Embolisation, a procedure that your Houston interventional radiologist can perform.  Pelvic Vein Embolisation is an x-ray technique performed under local anesthetic. Your doctor puts into your vein; with the help of ultrasound technology, a catheter (thin tube) is then pushed into the problematic pelvic vein, where it can be used to deposit embolizing material that will permanently block off the vein or veins that cause your PCS symptoms. With the vein blocked off, blood will no longer build up in the area. The vein will start to shrink and symptoms should resolve quickly after that.

With proper care, PCS can be treated and resolved quickly, with a minimally invasive procedure. With over 30 years of combined experience, Drs. Fox and Hardee are highly trained at spotting the symptoms of PCS and providing appropriate relief. If you’re experiencing dull, aching pelvis pain and your symptoms have stuck around for a while, it’s important to schedule an in-office consultation right away. You don’t have to live with chronic pelvis pain—you just need to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment plan!

This Woman had a 61 lb. Tumor in her Uterus!

A 53-year-old woman in Singapore just went through a life-altering surgery when she had a giant, 61 pound tumor removed from her uterus. The woman had avoided treatment for so long that the weight of her tumor left her unable to get out of bed. Additionally, the woman was having difficulty breathing and even moving within the confines of her bed. 

When the patient finally arrived at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, doctors determined her growth was a fibroid, a non-cancerous tumor. Unfortunately, due to the incredible size of the, doctors could only treat the problem by performing a hysterectomy. The doctors also had to remove the woman’s ovaries. 

According to Dr. Poh Ting Lim, a member of the team that treated the patient, the removed tumor was 26 inches across at its widest point. Because of its size being larger than 25 pounds, the tumor was classified as “giant”–the largest fibroid tumor ever recorded was found in the late 1800s, and weighed 100 pounds! In addition to performing a hysterectomy, doctors had to surgically reconstruct the woman’s abdominal wall. It had stretched and thinned to a dangerous point in order to accommodate the giant growth in her uterus. 

How Fibroids Grow
Of course, for most women, a fibroid this size is only a horror story. Fibroids are common but slow-growing, typically expanding by about nine percent every six months. Of course, an increase in size of nine percent could have a major impact on a woman’s pain levels and reproductive health, but the relatively extended time period gives patients plenty of time in which to seek treatment. In fact, according to estimates from the doctors in Singapore, their patient must have waited at least five years before seeking help for her condition! 

For patients who are proactive about their health, however, their is plenty of time to address uterine fibroids before a hysterectomy becomes necessary. With minimally invasive treatment options available, situations like these are completely avoidable–you simply need to reach out to a fibroid specialist as soon as you notice symptoms such as pain or heavy menstrual flow!