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Category: Fibroid Symptoms

#WCW: Fibroids are Heading to New York’s Broadway!

When you have fibroids, it can feel like they are taking over your whole life. If you have symptoms like pelvic pain or heavy periods, there are times when that is all you can think about! Well, if there’s anyone who can relate, it’s Andrea Coleman, an African American comedian, actress and fibroid sufferer. Coleman created the Fibroid Chronicles, an off-broadway play, to help raise fibroid awareness. She is spreading the message in the African American community (where up to 80% of women will develop fibroids). She is spreading it beyond. And for that reason, she is our official Woman Crush Wednesday, #WCW. 

Inside the Fibroid Chronicles: One Woman’s Journey

The Fibroid Chronicles is a solo comedy show about a black woman’s struggle to live with uterine fibroids. It will enjoy a limited run, in October, at a Manhattan theater called The Tank. Coleman, the show’s creator, is also the host of the popular live law comedy show, “Wack or Woke? Andrea Coleman Judges the Law.”

In this play, Coleman centers her story in the emergency and operating room. She takes a playful look at some of the most difficult fibroid symptoms. From trying to wear an adult diaper to bed without her date noticing, to experiencing 27 hours of urinary incontinence, audience members will enjoy an hilarious take on her life with fibroids. But they’ll also be part of a bigger, more important conversation: Coleman draws attention to the fact that African American women don’t enjoy the same quality of healthcare in this country as do other populations. In fact, Coleman calls out the 2014 finding by the UN that America’s health care treatment of black women classifies as a human rights violation. 

Through humor, Coleman helps women understand what it’s like to live with fibroids. She helps them learn to identify some common symptoms, so women feel empowered to discuss fibroids with their doctors. And, in doing so, she earns an important spot in our Woman Crush Wednesday hall of fame! 

This is the One Period Symptom You Never Ignore

Every woman knows: sometimes having your period is a pain. Literally. You may get cramps. You may feel bloated or tired. But, as it turns out, some period symptoms should always be cause for concern. And the number one symptom to never ignore? Periods that keep getting longer!

What is Considered a Longer Period?

On average, your menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days. (That count runs from the first day of one period and ends on the last day before your next one.) Still, cycles vary, so having a cycle anywhere between 21 to 40 days is normal.

When your periods are normal, bleeding lasts between two and seven days. You typically lose just three to five tablespoons of blood over those days. But sometimes, you bleed for longer. And, when that is the case, you often end up losing a lot more blood as well. 

Of course, a longer or heavier period doesn’t always mean you have a health problem. But, since periods that last over a week could be a sign of an underlying condition, you need to be seen by your doctor if long periods are becoming your new normal.

What Causes Long, Heavy Periods? tampons

In some cases, a longer period means you’ve got an iron deficiency, especially when you’re also dizzy or have chest pain or difficulties breathing. 

One long, heavy period could mean you have a ‘missed miscarriage,’ meaning you lost your baby before you knew you were pregnant. 

If your periods used to be shorter, then suddenly become long and heavy, you could have cervical cancer or even kidney disease. A more common cause of heavy periods, however, are fibroid tumors, non-cancerous growths that develop in or around your uterus. They could also be a sign of adenomyosis, a condition in which the inner lining of your uterus breaks through its muscle wall. 

Basically, a long, heavy period could mean something really serious is going on with your body. Or it could mean nothing at all. But, given the possibilities, it’s always worth discussing this, or any sudden change in your cycle, with your doctor. 

 

 

#WCW: Evette Dionne is a Fibroid Health Warrior

As Houston fibroid specialists, we are determined to deliver minimally invasive treatment options to women. But we often have an uphill battle. Many doctors tell their patients that Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is an option. (UFE is a procedure that starves fibroids of blood and oxygen through injections delivered via catheter. It effectively kills them.) And because not all doctors are on our team, many women with fibroids believe they must have surgery. But here’s one woman who’s joined the 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

 Ms. Dionne, editor in chief of Bitch Media, has been dealing with fibroids for years (non cancerous tumors that develop in and on the uterus.) 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. 

Recently, 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. 

Should You Monitor or Remove Fibroids?

Dionne was diagnosed in 2015 with fibroids. She tells Prevention magazine that she gets an ultrasound from her gynecologist every six months 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. 

Sources: Prevention.com 

Are fibroids giving you bladder trouble? Here’s how to cope!

When you have small fibroids (non-cancerous tumors in your uterus), you may not have any symptoms. You may not even know they are there. But when your tumors are large, they can cause problems like pelvic pain, heavy periods, constipation and bladder problems

Today, we’re going to talk about fibroids and your bladder: why they are connected and how you can deal with symptoms. First, let’s explore why fibroids can impact your need to pee. 

Fibroids and the Bladder: What’s the Connection toilet

According to research published in the Journal of American Obstetrics & Gynecology, large fibroids change the size of your uterus. And, when your uterus changes size, it can put pressure on your bladder, giving you a frequent, urgent need to pee. 

That same study found that, when women treated their fibroids, their need to urinate became less frequent. What didn’t disappear, however, was the “urge incontinence,” many women experienced. Urge incontinence is a sudden, urgent need to pee. It means your bladder goes from ‘just fine’ to ‘about to have an accident’ with almost no warning. And, since fibroid treatment doesn’t always clear up this symptom on its own, here are some helpful tips for retraining your bladder, courtesy of the American College of Physicians. 

Retraining Your Bladder After Fibroids

The main purpose of retraining your bladder is to go to the bathroom less frequently every day. So, to start off, the ACOP recommends keeping a ‘pee journal,’ recording the number of times, and the time at which, you urinate each day. The goal is to stretch out the amount of time between each trip to the bathroom. In order to help you extend time between toilet trips, they suggest the following:

  • Don’t rush to the bathroom when you feel the urge to urinate. Sit still and try to hold out as long as possible.
  • Avoid going to the bathroom “just in case.”
  • Distract yourself from thoughts about urination when you feel the urge.
  • Try delaying bathroom trips by clenching your fists or crossing your legs.
  • Practice ‘kegels’ (pelvic floor exercises) so it’s easier to hold your pee.
  • Stay hydrated to avoid urinary tract infections.
  • Avoid beverages with caffeine, since they increase your need to urinate.

Bladder control problems can be embarrassing and take a toll on your life. But, with proper fibroid treatment and some bladder retraining, you can get back to feeling like yourself!

Sources: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, https://www.ajog.org, Annals of Internal Medicine, https://annals.org

5 Reasons You Cramp That AREN’T Your Period

You probably expect at least a little cramping during your menstrual period. But when those painful cramps show up at other times of the month? It can be scary–and confusing! To help clear up the questions, let’s explore a few reasons you may cramp when it’s not that time of the month! 

1. Constipation

When you’re backed up, a stomach ache isn’t surprising. What you may not realize is that constipation can also make you cramp! And that cramping won’t be limited to your period: it can appear at any time of the month!  One easy way to beat constipation? Drink tons of H20 (try infusing it with fresh fruit if plain old water just isn’t your thing.) The good news? Even if constipation isn’t the cause of your cramps, only good can co

me from upping your liquid intake. 

2. Fibroids

Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop on the walls of the uterus.  Depending on their size and location, fibroids can cause a whole host of symptoms including pain, heavy periods and–you guessed it–cramps, even when you’re not menstruating. Thankfully, there are numerous fibroid treatments available, many of which are non-invasive and don’t require surgery! 

3. Cysts

Cysts, like fibroids, are non-cancerous growths. The difference? Cysts are fluid filled, fibroids are muscular. But one thing they have in common? They can both cause you to experience cramps outside of your period. And, like fibroids, there are a range of treatment options available to you. Fibroids and cysts can both be diagnosed with an ultrasound in your doctor’s office. 

4. Sexually Transmitted Infections

Infections like Chlamydia, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), and Gonorrhea can all cause abdominal pain, and other symptoms like cramps. No one wants to contract an STI, but knowing that cramps are an STI symptom is very helpful! That’s especially true because many infections go undetected for long periods of time. If there’s a chance you’ve had STI exposure, and are experiencing non-menstrual cramping, get tested in your doctors office so you can begin treatment and avoid transmitting the infection to a current or future partner. 

Sources: webmd.com

Let’s Talk About Sex…and Fibroids!

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 for Fibroid Patients

  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. 

Sources: azuravascularcare.com

WCW: This Woman is Fighting Painful Sex

Did you know that 75% of women have felt pain during sex? In fact, for many women living with fibroids, painful sex is a constant reality. And while treating fibroids can help relieve that discomfort, there is another interim option available, thanks to our Woman Crush Wednesday winner: Emily Sauer, founder of Lady Parts Justice League.

A Personal Mission to Stop Women’s Sexual Pain

Emily Sauer finds a fun new way to display her Ohnut device, a wearable that helps make intercourse less painful for women

Sauer suffered from dyspareunia (painful sex). After 10 years, she’d had enough. She began collaborating on the creation of a wearable device to keep intercourse from hurting.  In 2017, she presented the finished product on Kickstarter: the Ohnut.

The Ohnut is a body safe device a woman can wear to control how deeply her vagina is penetrated during intercourse.  For women with fibroids near their cervix, this could be especially helpful.

The wearable device gets its name from its appearance—it looks like a stretchy donut. While controlling how deeply a woman is penetrated, keeping the device in place can still help you enjoy the full sexual experience, since the soft device itself mimics the sensation of penetration with a softer force.

As Sauer says, “Ohnut not only allows control over depth, it also offers a fresh opportunity for couples to ideate and work together to find out what works for their shared experience.”

Working together is especially important for couples in which one partner has fibroids. Communication and a willingness to try different approaches to intimacy can keep a sexual connection alive while you decide when and how to treat your tumors.

In fact, that is Sauer’s mission with the Ohnut. She hopes it will make sex fun for women and couples who feel alone in their painful sexual experiences. For offering support to all women struggling with painful intercourse, we salute Ms. Sauer and her innovative assistive device.

Sources: healthline.com

 

This Patch is Trying to End Period Pain

Many women with fibroids suffer from extremely painful periods. But thanks to a newly-developed hi-tech patch, theirs and other women’s menstrual pain may finally be a thing of the past. 

Hi Tech Help for Menstrual Cramps 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.

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.

Sources: Bielcorp.com 

 

Dr. Oz Takes on Giant Fibroid Tumors

On a recent episode of the Dr. Oz show, he tackled a BIG problem: giant fibroids! Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in a woman’s uterus. Usually, we diagnose and treat them before they get very big. But every so often, that’s not the case. So, keeping in mind that are tales of exception,  check out these big fibroid stories. 

Could this be the World’s Heaviest Fibroid? 

A 53-year-old woman in Singapore needed surgery to remove her 61 pound fibroid. The woman avoided treatment for so long that she could no longer get out of bed! She was also having difficulty breathing.

When the patient finally arrived at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, doctors determined her growth was a fibroid. Unfortunately, because of it’s size, the woman needed a hysterectomy to find relief.  

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. 

Child-Sized Fibroid Causes Problem

At a hospital in Delhi, India, a 47-year-old woman had a nearly-nine pound fibroid removed from her cervix! The fibroid was basically the size of a full-term newborn! 

According to reports, the woman came to the hospital in 2009 because of abdominal pain and heavy periods. An ultrasound report at the time revealed that she had a small fibroid located inside her uterus.  Unfortunately,she was sent home with a diagnosis and no treatment plan.

Several years later, the woman came back to the hospital, in even worse pain. Now, the fibroid was an astounding 9 pounds, taking up all the space from her pelvis until four inches below her breastbone. It was also beginning to adjoin to her liver. 

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.

How Fibroids Grow

Of course, for most women, giant fibroids are just horror stories. Fibroids are common but slow-growing, typically expanding by about nine percent every six months. An nine percent size increase could dramatically increase your symptoms, but the relatively slow growth period means you have time to seek treatment before you would need a hysterectomy. 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! 

Sources: Dr. Oz Show

Are all fibroids the same?

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

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

Fibroid Symptoms Based on Location

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. 

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