Category: Fibroid Symptoms

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! 

This Woman had a Fibroid the Size of a Baby!

Recently, a hospital in Delhi, India, shared a shocking story: they had just removed a nearly-nine pound tumor from a 47-year-old woman’s cervix! The tumor, which was originally determined to be a non-cancerous fibroid, was basically the size of a full-term newborn at the time of its removal! 

According to reports, the woman first came to the hospital in 2009, seeking help for pain in the abdomen and abnormally heavy bleeding during her period. An ultrasound report at the time revealed that she had a small fibroid located inside her uterus.  Unfortunately, the woman received no fibroid treatment at the time, and was sent home with a diagnosis and not much else.

In January of this year, the woman came back to the hospital, in even worse pain. A medical investigation found that the tumor had grown to its astounding 9 pound size. By this time, according to the hospital, the fibroid took up all the space from the depth of the pelvis until four inches below her breastbone. It was also beginning to adjoin to her liver. 

Now faced with no choice but to operate, it took doctors almost three hours to remove the giant fibroid. During the surgery, both the fibroid and the woman’s uterus were removed, due to the suspicious nature of the tumor and fears of cancer.

Although the procedure was technically a success, and the woman was released from hospital six days after her operation, our team of fibroid specialists still views this story as having an unhappy ending.

It’s a well known fact that early intervention is best when it comes to fibroid treatment. Untreated tumors can and most likely will continue to grow, While few will reach the size and invasiveness of this woman’s fibroid, stories like hers are avoidable if women seek treatment for their tumors at the earliest point of diagnosis.

How much bleeding is too much?

Woman with uterine fibroids
Listen to your body to know if heavy bleeding is a warning sign for fibroids

You may have heard that heavy bleeding is a sign of fibroids, but how can you tell the difference between normal and abnormal blood flow? Here are some helpful tips to help figure out what’s going on with your body: 

5 Signs of Abnormal Bleeding

  1. Bleeding between periods is considered abnormal.
  2. Experiencing more than one period in a month is also outside of normal bleeding. 
  3. A period that lasts longer than 7-9 days is potential cause for concern. 
  4. Flow that’s heavy enough to keep you from your daily activities should be considered a red flag. 
  5. Bleeding after menopause could indicate the presence of a uterine fibroid or other problematic condition. 

If you experience any of the above warning signs, or if you are passing blood clots that are larger than golf balls during your menstrual cycle, it is definitely time to see your doctor. Any one of these symptoms could be a sign of fibroids, polyps or adenomyosis, a condition in which endometrial tissue grows into and around the uterine wall. 

As always, when it comes to your health, the old adage is true: better safe than sorry. The best indicator of worrisome bleeding is bleeding that makes you worry. If you’re concerned about changes in your menstrual cycle, it is always a good idea to see a doctor. While everything may be normal, you’ll never know what’s going on with your body unless you speak up and see your physician. 

At your doctors office, simple procedures like blood tests and ultrasounds can determine the cause of your unusual bleeding. Once you have a diagnosis, you and your doctor can determine the best treatment plan to manage your heavy bleeding and other symptoms, so don’t delay. Contact our office and schedule an appointment today. 

Real Talk: Fibroids Can Kill Your Sex Life

Results after UFE
Even with fibroids, you and your partner can enjoy a healthy sex life

Let’s talk about sex, ladies…sex and fibroids. Fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that grow in your uterus, can cause some unpleasant side effects, including heavy bleeding and clotting during your period, fatigue, cramps, anemia, frequent peeing and constipation. That’s a long list of things that, not surprisingly, may take away your desire to get intimate with a partner. After all, in addition to these symptoms, the location of your tumors may even make the physical act of love painful or, at the very least, uncomfortable. 

But take heart: there is help available, both for your fibroids and your love life. First, your fibroids. A diagnosis of uterine fibroids does not have to mean painful surgery. In our Houston fibroids practice, we offer minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that can permanently shrink the tumors without any incisions and with little or no post-procedure down time. Known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) it is an option every woman should consider before exploring more invasive treatments like surgeries and hysterectomies. Now, to your love life. While we do not claim to be sex therapists, there are measures you can take to restore your desire for intimacy after fibroids. 

Bedroom Help

  1. Be open: talk to your partner about the way that you’re feeling and the effect fibroids have had on your body. Connecting in a warm, loving conversation can lead to a stronger physical connection. 
  2. Go slowly and communicate: during intercourse, make sure you tell your partner what does and doesn’t feel comfortable. 
  3. Stay simple: forget the kama sutra. When dealing with fibroids, simpler sexual positions may be best as they are gentler on your body. 
  4. Embrace all intimacy: remember–there is more to your relationship than just sex. If intercourse is too painful before your fibroid treatments, you can always seek other ways to be intimate with the special person in your life. 

#WCW: FKA Twigs Fibroids Journey

On this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday, we are celebrating singer (and former Robert Pattinson fiance) FKA Twigs for opening up about her fibroids struggle. In May, the star gave a very revealing Instagram update, saying she had undergone laproscopic surgery to remove six fibroids from her uterus. 

She went on to share: “the tumours were pretty huge, the size of 2 cooking apples 🍎 🍎, 3 kiwis 🥝 🥝 🥝 and a couple of 🍓🍓.
a fruit bowl of pain everyday. the nurse said that the weight and size was like being 6 months pregnant.”

Pain and Loneliness
Sadly, for FKA Twigs, the journey to healing was extremely tough. “I tried to be brave but it was excruciating at times and to be honest I started to doubt if my body would ever feel the same again,” she said. “I had surgery in December and I was so scared, despite lots of love from friends and family I felt really alone and my confidence as a woman was knocked.”

The good news is that, six months later, the singer was feeling better and ready to share a message with other struggling women: “I know that a lot of women suffer from fibroid tumours and I just wanted to say after my experience that you are amazing warriors and that you are not alone. you can get through this,” she said, concluding, “and with this I let go of the pain… love always twigs.”

A Better Path
We are so thankful that laproscopic surgery helped FKA Twigs feel like herself again; certainly, many women have been helped by similar procedure. Still, any kind of surgery is traumatic to your body, so why go under the knife if there’s another option? 

Thankfully, there is! Known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), it’s a minimally invasive fibroid treatment delivered through a catheter inserted into your arm. Women can typically avoid hospital stays with this outpatient procedure and most feel well enough to stand up and walk immediately afterwards. 

So to all of Ms. Twigs’ fellow fibroid warriors, we say: know your options. Come into our Houston Fibroids office and find out if UFE is right for you! 

 

Warning: Fibroid Meds Linked to Liver Damage

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has advised that women taking Esmya, a fibroid medication, may experience liver injury from the drug. In order to prevent this complication, the EMA has implemented a series of precautions for doctors to review before prescribing Esmya as a fibroid treatment. 

When working properly, Esmya is supposed to reduce the bleeding and anemia associated with uterine fibroids. Unfortunately, because some women taking Esmya have suffered liver injuries, the EMA now recommends that all patients should have liver screenings before and after taking the drug. Women with a history of liver problems should never take Esmya, and the drug should really be seen as an option of last resort. Only women without other treatment options should take this drug, according to the EMA. 

Sadly, many women are not aware of UFE, a minimally invasive fibroid treatment with many fewer potential complications. Women who are eligible for this non-invasive treatment option can expect an outpatient procedure that lasts for about about one hour; in fact, because the procedure is conducted through an artery in the arm, most UFE patients are able to stand up and walk around right after receiving treatment. Best of all, treatment is delivered directly to the uterine growths, offering a permanent fibroid solution that leaves other body parts completely unaffected. 

If you have been prescribed medications to help with the side effects of uterine fibroids, it’s crucial that you learn about all of your potential treatment options. Contact our Houston Fibroids practice to see if UFE can help you avoid the potential complications of fibroid medications. 

Are Period Blood Clots Normal?

During your period, have you ever noticed that you’re passing blood clots? Has it left you feeling anxious, or wondering if something abnormal is going on with your body? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! 

First of all, know that clotting during your period is common and, usually, just a normal part of your body’s functioning. Even with the anti-coagulants in your body, some blood clots are likely to form during your period, especially on the day’s when your flow is heaviest. So, when is it time to worry? Uterine Fibroids

Size Matters
Some clots, however, should be considered red flags. A large clot, about the size of a golf ball, is a cause for concern and should send you to your doctor immediately for a checkup. In addition to paying attention to the size of the clots, you may also want to see your doctor if you’re passing lots of clots on a regular basis, even if they aren’t extremely large in size. 

Why the Worry? 
While not always the case, excessive or heavy bleeding can be a sign that you’re developing uterine fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that grow on or within the tissue of the uterus. While not always the case, excessive menstrual bleeding is a major warning sign that a woman has developed fibroids. Heavy periods can also be a sign of a miscarriage, endometriosis or even certain kinds of cancer, so it’s a good idea to see your doctor about any kind of menstrual bleeding that seems unusual for your body. 

When it comes to treating fibroids, early detection is best. In our Houston fibroids practice, we are able to proved most patients with a minimally invasive, out-patient fibroid treatment known as UFE. There’s no reason to sit at home, waiting for things to get better. If you’re concerned about heavy menstrual bleeding and clots, schedule an appointment with our fibroid specialists, Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee, to discuss your treatment options. 

Finally: Dangerous Birth Control is Taken Off the Market

Essure, a permanent birth control device that was known to cause uterine and fallopian tube fibroids, is finally off the market! Manufactured by Bayer, Essure was a nickel and polyester coil that could be inserted into a woman’s fallopian tubes. Scar tissue would form over the metal coils, causing a permanent blockage of the woman’s uterus and making pregnancy impossible. 

Although Essure got FDA approval in 2002, its use has been very controversial. Over the past few years, women implanted with the device have been reporting a number of devastating side effects–in addition to cysts and fibroids, many patients experienced gastrointestinal, neurological, mental health and blood health complications after being implanted with Essure. In fact, between the time Essure was approved and the year 2017, over 26,000 filed Essure complaints with the FDA. 

In Denial

In spite of all these complaints, Bayer won’t admit that Essure was either unsafe or ineffective. Even as they pulled Essure off the U.S. market last month, the company insisted that their decision was because of declining sales, not due to any major health concerns. Bayer even complained that “inaccurate and misleading” information about Essure had contributed to the sales drop! 

Even though Essure is no longer available in the U.S., Bayer will likely be dealing with the effects of this device for a long time. Thousands of women have sued Bayer for the devastating Essure side-effects they’ve experienced. Bayer’s response? The company says it “remains strongly committed to women’s health where we have long been a leader. We recognize that women want safe and effective options that best meet their individual needs, and we are committed to continuing our investment, innovation and leadership in this important area of health.” Bayer also plans to enroll women in post-market surveillance programs, and has said it will keep updating the FDA with any relevant health findings from the study.