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Category: Fibroid Symptoms

#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?

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. 

Sources: Prevention.com 

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 per cent of the women reported missing work during their periods. Another 3.4 per cent 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 work force. 

Fibroids Mess with your Period

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! 

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

 

Polyps vs Fibroids: What’s the Difference?

As we approach July, which is also Fibroids Awareness month, you may be wondering: are uterine polyps and uterine fibroids similar growths? And the answer would be: no! These two reproductive health issues are very different!. Which means that fibroids and polyps require very different treatment plans. pain from uterine fibroidsLet’s take a closer look at each growth to really understand the differences. 

What are Uterine Fibroids?

Fibroids are growths within or on the uterine wall. They are made up of muscle tissue. Typically, fibroids develop within the walls of your uterus, then push outward toward the uterus. These tumors usually appear during your childbearing years, but they can form at any time. 

In terms of size, fibroids can range in size from a few centimeters all the way up to the size of an orange. In fact, in extreme cases, they can grow to the size of a small fetus! Many women who suffer from fibroids feel pelvic pain or pressure, but other common symptoms include:

  • Heavy, long-lasting periods
  • Frequent urination
  • Incontinence
  • Painful intercourse
  • Infertility

What are Uterine Polyps?

Like fibroids, polyps are growths that develop around the uterine wall, but that’s where the similarities end. During menstruation, you shed your uterine lining. It then regenerates after the period cycle. Over time, roundish growths (polyps) may develop as the uterine lining returns.  There are two types of polyps: pedunculated (attached to the uterine wall by a stalk) or sessile (attached by a large base). Most polyps range in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters.

Pedunculated polyps are more common than sessile, and they may stick out from the uterus into the vagina. Polyps aren’t usually painful unless they protrude. Other common symptoms of polyps include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Spotting between menstrual periods
  • Infertility
  • Bleeding after menopause

The Differences Between Uterine Polyps & Fibroids

Now check out the main differences between polyps and fibroids:

Uterine Polyps

Uterine Fibroids

Made of endometrium tissue

Formed from muscle tissue

Grows within the endometrium tissue

Develops within the uterine wall

Grows to be a few centimeters maximum

Can reach the size of an orange

Periods are usually irregular and spotty

Menstrual cycles are usually heavy and long-lasting

Doesn’t usually cause pain

Pain can be chronic and severe

 

If you are suffering any symptoms listed above, make an appointment with a fibroid specialist. Call Houston Fibroids at (713) 575-3686 to schedule your consultation. 

Sources: www.health.harvard.edu

Here are 3 Yoga Moves to Fight Period Pain

When you have fibroids, period pain and general pelvic pain can be a big problem. If that’s the case for you, you may find some relief with these gentle poses.

Why is yoga so effective at treating period pain? Some Hatha yoga poses relax tension in your pelvis and abdomen. They also increase blood flow to the region, which can help relieve discomfort. And yoga is great for relaxing your body, which can help you experience pain less intensely.

Gentle Yoga is Best for Period-Related Pain

According to a study  in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine  , women with period pain who participated in a single, hour-long yoga class each week reduced both their period pain and their overall distress. Women with pelvic pain, or severe menstrual cramps should choose restful classes and poses over power yoga, since power classes often stress the core, which could make your pelvic pain more intense.

3 Yoga Poses to Alleviate Period Pain 

Pelvic Tilts and Circles

How you do it: 

·         Stand, lie on your back, or sit on a chair or the edge of your bed.

·         Keeping your torso straight, breathe in and rock your pelvis forward. Exhale, rocking your pubic bone backward until your back is slightly rounded. Repeat 5 times.

·         Make circles and figure eights with your hips, breathing naturally as you move. Repeat 5 times in each direction.

Why it helps: Moving your pelvis can relieve tension in the muscles and connective tissue of the pelvis.

Reclining Supported Butterfly Pose

How you do it:

·         Lie on your bed or a mat on the floor. Put some pillows under your back and head, to open your chest. Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Breathe deeply and relax.

·         Now, bring the bottoms of your feet together. Inhale, then exhale while letting your knees gently fall apart . Keep soles of your feet together, and support your knees with more pillows or blankets if needed.

·        Hold this pose for 10 minutes, picturing your pelvis opening and relaxing with every breath you take. 

Why it helps: This pose is great for relaxing the muscles in your pelvis, inner thighs and back, all of which may tighten up if you’re dealing with chronic pain. 

 

Legs Up the Wall

·         Lie on the floor next to a wall. Scoot your rear end as close to the wall as possible.

·         Gently swing your legs up the wall, until the backs are resting against it. You can place a pillow or folded blanket under your lower back for support, and you may bend your knees slightly, if this is more comfortable for you. 

·         Relaxing your arms by your side, close your eyes and breathe gently, allowing your lower back to soften into the ground. Hold this position for a few minutes before bending your knees and rolling to one side to exit.

Why it helps: This position is ideal for calming you down and for softening your pelvic floor muscles. 

 

Sources: everydayhealth.com 

Can CBD Oil ‘Tampons’ Stop Period Pain?

These days, there’s a lot of discussion about cannabidiol (CBD) products. Derived from the cannabis (marijuana) plant, CBD offers many therapeutic qualities without getting you high. CBD oils and lotions may stop pain, or even offer relief from anxiety and depression. In fact, people are so excited about CBD’s pain relieving properties, there’s now a CBD ‘tampon’ on the market, designed to relieve menstrual pelvic pain. Some women have found pain relief from CBD, but we still don’t know how it affects the rest of your body. Let’s look at how CBD ‘tampons’ work, and how women with period pain will be affected by their use. 

What is a CBD ‘Tampon’?

Though they’re called CBD tampons, they aren’t intended to absorb menstrual blood. Actually, CBD tampons are suppositories that you insert into your vagina. Made from CBD oil, cocoa butter and coconut oil, the suppositories dissolve in your body after insertion. And because your vagina is so absorbent, the CBD oil is delivered quickly to your blood stream. This means quick pain relief, but what else will the oils do while circulating through your body? 

How will CBD Affect Your Body?

In addition to reducing inflammation–and pain–in your pelvic area, CBD tampons may interact with your medications.  This means your drugs, especially antibiotics and anti anxiety medications, may not be as effective. CBD suppositories could also change the chemical balance of your vagina, leaving you vulnerable to yeast and other infections. And for women who are trying to conceive or already pregnant, these ‘tampons’ are a major no-no. The CBD could change the way sperm functions in your body. It could also impact and change fetal development. 

While CBD tampons do seem to offer temporary period pain relief, there’s a lot we don’t know about what else they do to you. For that reason, we advise treating the cause of your period pain–from fibroids to adenomyosis to endometriosis–rather than trying funky new methods of temporary pain relief. 

Sources: healthline.com, huffpost.com

#WCW: Tanika Gray Valburn

It’s #WomanCrushWednesday! Today, we honor Tamika Gray Valburn, founder of The White Dress Project. For years, Tanika suffered from fibroids .  She saw her mom lose two sets of twins due to her own fibroids, but didn’t make the connection to her own diagnosis right away! 

In fact, Valburn didn’t officially get a fibroid diagnosis until her late teens, even though she experienced painful symptoms. “You just think it will skip a generation,” she recently revealed in an interview. “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. 

And, because her fibroids caused such heavy periods, Valburn said, ““I’ve had to learn 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. In 2014, Tanika convinced a Georgia state representative to officially declare July as Fibroid Awareness Month, helping women get the crucial health information they need.

But she didn’t stop there. Tanika realized that she’d 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 fibroids awareness, supporting research, and bringing together a community of women who work to empower one another.  The white dress became their symbol, as it signified a milestone in Tanika’s recovery – the moment she could rock a white dress without any fear. Now, the white dress has become a symbol of strength and power to other women dealing with fibroids, becoming one step in the fight to take control of their menstrual health issues.

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!

Why You Can’t Ignore Pink Discharge

For women, vaginal discharge is part of a normal monthly cycle. It changes in amount, color and texture at different times in the month. But when that color changes to pink, it could be a sign of a bigger problem brewing. 

What Pink Discharge Means For Your Health

Pink vaginal discharge usually contains trace amounts of blood. And bleeding outside of your period could be a sign of a problem. If you are experiencing pink discharge, you should see your doctor right away. The color could mean that you have: 

  1. Uterine Fibroids. Pink discharge could indicate that you are spotting (bleeding outside of your period), and fibroids (non-cancerous tumors) are known to cause abnormal bleeding. So if you are regularly seeing pink outside of your period, it is worth discussing a fibroid screening with your OBGYN. 
  2. Uterine Polyps. Like fibroids, polyps are non-cancerous growths. But while fibroids develop in or on your uterus, polyps develop in endometrial tissue before extending into the uterus. If pink discharge comes after sex, it could be a sign you have polyps, since intercourse can bump these growths, causing some blood to mingle with your discharge. 
  3.  Ovarian cysts. These are fluid-filled sacs that develop on the ovaries. When they resolve on their own, cysts don’t typically cause symptoms. But when they keep growing and become large, they may cause abnormal bleeding–and pink discharge! 
  4. Infections. Pink discharge could also be a sign of an infection in your vagina. Potential causes could be an STI (sexually transmitted infection) or vaginitis.
  5.  Pregnancy, including ectopic. When a fertilized egg implants itself in your uterine wall, you may bleed a little, causing pink discharge. But when that egg implants outside your uterus, in your fallopian tubes, pink discharge will also likely appear, along with other symptoms like sharp pain, dizziness, weakness and even fainting. 

Because pink discharge could indicate so many different conditions, it’s important to bring up this change with your doctor. The only way to know the cause is to investigate with your medical care provider. 

 

Sources: Medical News Today, yourtango.com

Fibroids 101: The Risks, Diagnoses and Effects

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: 

Who is At Risk for Fibroids?

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). As more Caucasian women present with elevated BMIs, their fibroid risk has also increased. While we still don’t know exactly why fibroids develop, we know two things make them grow: hormones, especially estrogen, and blood supply. For this reason, we can 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.)

How Can I Confirm my Fibroid Diagnosis?

If you are experiencing 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.

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 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

Why You Need to Address Heavy Periods

When you’re dealing with uterine fibroids, your menstrual flow can become very heavy. Your periods may also last longer than the typical seven day window. Obviously, this can be uncomfortable and, at times, inconvenient. But if you’re thinking that you should just deal with the annoyance, think again. As it turns out, heavy periods can actually affect other areas of your health. 

How Do I Know if My Periods Are Abnormal?

It’s easy to say that a heavy period could be cause for concern, but it can be difficult to quantify what “heavy” really means. Flow varies from woman to woman, so any major change could be problematic. As a general rule of thumb, however, excessively heavy bleeding is defined as: 

  • Less than 21 days between your periods (longer than 35 days between cycles is also unusual, but this would not be considered a problem of excess bleeding)
  • Periods that last longer than 7 days
  • Passing large clots during your period (anything bigger than the size of a quarter warrants a discussion with your doctor)
  • Losing more than 80 cc of blood (of course, no one expects you to actually measure your blood loss, but if you’re soaking through super tampons or pads in an hour or less, chances are you’re losing too much blood.)

My Period is Too Heavy – What Do I Do Now?

If you think that your periods are too heavy, talk to your doctor right away. Make an appointment with your gyno, even if it’s not time for your annual exam. Here’s why: heavy periods can lead to anemia, a condition that sets in when you don’t have enough iron in your blood. Anemia needs to be addressed immediately, because it can affect your body’s ability to carry oxygen to your extremities. Over time, it can also lead to iron deficiency which, in turn, can affect the body’s bone marrow response. Additionally, anemia can cause symptoms like fatigue, weakness, dizziness, pain, headaches, cold hands and feet, chest pain and even heart attacks. 

Once you mention heavy bleeding to your doctor, he or she will likely suggest an anemia screening, to make sure you’re staying ahead of the issue. But it’s also important to try and determine the cause of your heavy bleeding, or else your continued blood loss will likely keep you in an anemic state. 

Fibroids and Heavy Periods

Uterine fibroids  can develop within the uterine lining (submucosal), the uterine muscle (intramural) or outside the uterine lining (subserosal.) Submucosal fibroids may increase the area of the lining, which causes you to bleed more when it is shed each month. These fibroids may also hinder your body’s ability to stop bleeding once it starts.

Intramural fibroids can increase the blood flow that reaches your uterus, and can also expand the size of your uterine cavity, thereby increasing bleeding.

If fibroids are the cause of your heavy menstrual flow, you will need to treat your fibroids in order to stop the excessive bleeding. Be sure and discuss all your treatment options, both surgical and minimally invasive, when deciding how best to address your fibroids and heavy mentrual flow. 

Sources: semcor.ubc.ca, The Center for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, cdc.gov, The Centers for Disease Control 

 

It’s Time to Speak Up About Period Symptoms!

According to a new Dutch study, many women who suffer from heavy, painful periods keep their suffering to themselves. Even when these symptoms affect their ability to live a normal life! 

After conducting a nationwide survey of 45,000, researchers found that 85% of the respondents experienced painful cramps during their periods. 77% had mood disorders, and 71% experienced near crippling exhaustion. And 33% of the respondents reported that these symptoms kept them from performing their daily activities. But among those 33% who had to cut back on their activities because of their periods, less than half told their doctors or family members the reason for their life changes. 

Lead study author Dr. Mark Schoep of Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands said, ““We think there is a taboo on menstrual symptoms, mainly because women think this is just a normal part of life, and they might feel it is not accepted to openly discuss this matter.”

Painful Periods Are NOT Normal

While mild cramping isn’t unusual during your period, symptoms that affect your daily life are a problem you should talk about with your doctor. In fact, menstrual symptoms can indicate serious complications, like uterine fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis. If you don’t talk to your doctor about these symptoms, you may miss a diagnosis-and keep suffering for nor reason. 

“Women need to know that they should seek health care if they have menstrual symptoms that affect their daily life,” said Dr. Trine Stanley Karlsson of the University Hospital Karolinska in Stockholm, Sweden, who was also involved in the study.

At our Houston Fibroids center, we couldn’t agree more. We can help alleviate painful menstrual symptoms related to your fibroids: but only if you speak up! So stop keeping discomfort to yourself. The sooner you share your health information, the quicker we can get to work making you feel better.