Category: Fibroid Symptoms

There’s Hidden Danger in Black Hair Relaxers

There’s a lot of focus on black hair relaxers when it comes to understanding why women get fibroids. You see, uterine fibroids are just worse for black women than for any other group. African Americans develop these tumors three times as often as women of other races. Plus, their fibroids develop earlier–often in their twenties. In comparison, most white women don’t get fibroids until their 30s.

But that’s not all. With fibroids, black women are more likely to develop anemia with fibroids. They also have a higher risk for fibroids symptoms such as painful sex, severe pelvic pain and heavy periods.

Of course, those are scary statistics. But what’s worse? We don’t have concrete explanations for the disparities. What we do have, however, are theories. And one of those theories has to do with hair styling.

Could Black Hair Relaxers Impact Fibroids?

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

According to the Silent Spring Institute, many of the hair products marketed to black women are full of harmful chemicals. Ever wondered why they smell so bad? It’s basically the poisons inside them. They’re just revealing their nature.

Early research

In fact, there is some science to back up this claim. A 2017 Rutgers University study linked 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.”

New Developments

More recently, the National Institutes of Health spent eight-years studying over 46,000 women of all races between the ages of 35–74. They were looking for links between chemical hair relaxers and breast cancer. And, they discovered African American women’s breast cancer risk increased risk by 45%.

Breast cancer and other reproductive issues, including, fibroid development, are often connected. So this study suggests there are even more reasons to steer clear of black hair relaxers.

Plus, there’s a new study from the American Journal of Epidemiology further confirms this link. In their group of 23,000 menstruating Black American women, these participants displayed two to three times higher uterine fibroid incidences.  And, especially for the younger women, the researcher said that had a lot to do with exposure to the chemicals in black hair relaxers.

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. And some people suggest that higher obesity rates may also be at issue.

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.

New Evidence Links Relaxers to Female Cancers two friends talking together

Of course, fibroids are a major problem. But hair relaxers are linked to so many other health problems. In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) just released results from an eight-year study. They followed over 46,000 women, of all races between the ages of 35–74. And they found a link between chemical hair relaxers and breast cancer. Perhaps not surprisingly, African American women had a 45 percent increased risk of breast cancer as compared to women of other races.

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 Houston fibroid specialists office for a consultation with Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee.

Sources: NY Times parenting, Silent Spring Institute, NIH

Why do Fibroids Give me Back Pain?

If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids, you probably know that they are non-cancerous tumors that grow in your uterus. And, chances are, you experienced some fibroid symptoms before that diagnosis. Maybe your periods were really heavy. Or perhaps you experienced chronic pelvic pain.

But if your fibroid symptoms include back, leg and stomach pain, you might wonder: how could uterine growths hurt in so many other places?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Diffuse pain is a common fibroid symptom. And we’re here to help you understand how uterine fibroids spread symptoms to the rest of your body.

How Fibroids Affect the Rest of Your Body pain from uterine fibroids

Like we said, you’re not alone with your fibroid-related back pain. In fact, a study in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility reported 60% of women with fibroids experience lower back pain, and 22% have stomach pain. Another 25% experience other abdominal problems, including diarrhea, constipation and/or bloating.

So, what’s the connection between your fibroids and all this widespread pain? Here’s the story:

Fibroids can change the shape of your uterus, making it press up against other parts of your body. Or, fibroids can grow outside your uterus, so the tumors themselves press against the nerves in your spine, or against your rectum or bladder. And, if any of that happens, well guess what? You’re likely to experience the types of symptoms we just mentioned.

For example, if your fibroid presses on a nerve or vein in your lower back area, your legs, hips, and back could all be affected. You might even experience leg swelling, or find it difficult to stand for long periods of time, if the fibroid presses on your blood vessels.

Relief from Fibroid Pain Without Surgery

When fibroid pain affects so many body parts, it can interfere with your daily life. If you’re in that position, you’re likely researching fibroid treatment options. And it’s important for you to know that surgery isn’t your only option.

While some women will choose to undergo myomectomy (surgical removal of fibroid tumors), you may wish to avoid this invasive procedure. If so, make sure you learn more about uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a minimally invasive procedure we perform at our Houston fibroids practice.

It’s often a better choice than hysterectomy, which triggers major side effects, including bone loss, memory loss

With this procedure, our physicians use catheters to access your fibroid’s blood supply, cutting off the flow with a permanent deposit of embolic material. After UFE, your fibroids shrink or even disappear completely. And once that happens, you will likely experience relief from back and leg pain, along with other unpleasant fibroid symptoms.

But that’s not all: because UFE is minimally invasive, you can avoid general anesthesia and likely won’t need to stay in the hospital overnight. And, because UFE only requires a small incision in your arm, your recovery time is much faster than with a procedure like hysterectomy or even myomectomy. Plus, UFE procedures have a very high success rate, meaning your relief should be lasting.

Ready to find out more? If you’re considering UFE, and aren’t sure if its right for you, we’re here to help. We provide consultations to help you learn more about your best fibroid treatment option. So make an appointment with us today!

Sources: USA Fibroid Centers, Journal of Fertility and Sterility

5 Reasons Why You Get Cramps That AREN’T Your Period

Have you ever wondered why you get cramps? Well, you probably expect at least a little cramping during your  period. But when those painful cramps show up at other times of the month? It can be scary–and confusing! To help clear up all your questions, let’s explore a few reasons why you get cramps 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, but fibroids are muscular. Plus, fibroids form from within your uterine wall, while cysts develop on your ovaries. Now, we’re not sure why women develop fibroids. But we know that cyst development is linked to your monthly cycle. Also, cysts and fibroids cause different symptoms. Because fibroids can interfere with your monthly periods and your urinary function. (They could also make it harder for you to get pregnant.)

But do you want to know one symptom fibroids and cysts have in common? They can both cause you to experience cramps outside of your period. (Though, with cysts, you’ll likely experience pain on one side of your abdomen. While, with fibroids, the cramps could hit anywhere.)

Still, like fibroids, you can address cysts with a range of treatment options. And both fibroids and cysts can be diagnosed with an ultrasound in your doctor’s office. After that, you’ll be guided for follow-up care with the right specialists.

4. Are Sexually Transmitted Infections Why You Get Cramps?

Scarily enough, the answer could be yes! 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: healthline, webmd.com

Why Fibroid Size Matters (and How we Can Help!)

Fibroid size can leave you with terrible symptoms, and even send you to the hospital. Now, many women are diagnosed with uterine fibroids each year. These are non-cancerous tumors that develop in and around your uterus. But not every fibroid diagnosis is the same. In fact, did you know that fibroids can range 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. In fact, one study shows that in 2017, fibroids sent over 65,000 women to the emergency room. (And that reflected big jump from 2006, the last year statistics were recorded. Because, that year, just over 23,000 women visited the ER because of fibroid symptoms.)

Now, that can happen to women with any fibroid size. But, common sense does come into play here. So, 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. And that’s not a look most women seek outside of pregnancy!

Fibroid Treatment Options

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. Because, if left alone, your fibroids are likely to keep growing, causing more symptoms and unpleasant side effects.

Impact of Fibroid Size

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.

Ready to begin the treatment process? We’re here to help, so schedule a consultation today! We can review your scans, and help you decide if minimally invasive treatments such as UFE will work for your fibroid size.

Why is My Period so Heavy?

Why is my period so heavy? It’s a question many women have to ask. 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. It’s also a problem if you’re passing blood clots that are bigger than a quarter during your period.

Now, want to know why your period is heavy? Here are 8 groups of women at risk for menorrhagia. (This is a condition characterized by heavy menstrual bleeding.) And a few things you can do if you’re in a high-risk group.

Why is My Period so Heavy? I have Fibroids

Women with fibroids have a higher risk for a heavy period. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that typically develop in your uterus. They often lead to heavy menstrual bleeding, And, for some women, they can cause infertility. Studies reveal that, for about 10% of women who ask “Why is my period so heavy”, the answer is  fibroids.

Of course, not all women have an equal risk. Unfortunately, black women are more likely to have both heavier periods and fibroids. Here are a few reasons why that may be true.

  1. Obesity. The US Department of Health and Human Services report that 4 out of 5 black women are either overweight or obese. Carrying extra weight is linked to higher estrogen levels. And more estrogen in your body may increase your fibroid risk.
  2. Nutrition. It’s harder for women of color to soak up vitamin D, because melanin can block its absorption. And, today, we know that vitamin d deficiency is tied to an increased fibroid risk.
  3. Toxic chemicals. Women of color are often sold hair products containing dangerous chemicals. And guess what? Many of those chemicals have been tied to their increased risk for fibroids.

Now you understand why a heavy period could mean fibroids. And why your risk for fibroids could increase. But let’s look at other reasons why your period could be heavier than normal.

Women with 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.

Women with Endometriosis

With endometriosis, tissue that’s similar to the lining of your uterus travels out of the uterus. When a woman with endometriosis menstruates, she sheds all of the lining tissue, regardless of its location. And that makes her period very heavy.

Women with Changing Hormones

When a woman is dealing with a hormonal imbalance—either low or high levels—she can experience irregular ovulation. And that can make her ask “Why is my period so heavy?”  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.

Clotting Problems Change Periods

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.

IUDs Could Mean Heavier Periods

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.

Black Women Have a Higher Risk

Research shows that 39% of Black women deal with heavy periods. That’s a higher percentage than in other groups of women. Which may be related to Black women’s increased risk for fibroids.

Obesity Can Make Periods Heavier

When you carry extra weight, your hormonal balance shifts. (See the risk factor above.) For obese women (who have a BMI of 30 or above) the risk increases further, because fat cells produce estrogen. And, with too much estrogen, your uterine lining will thicken. And, when it’s time to shed that lining at the end of the month, your period will be heavier.

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!

Sources: International Journal of Gynecalogic Obstetrics

Fibroid Risk for Black Women is Epidemic, But You Might Not Know It

Maybe you’ve heard that the fibroid risk for black women is higher. In fact, black women are more than three times as likely to develop these uterine tumors than women of other races. But those are just the measured numbers. In reality, we now know that fibroids, non-cancerous growths in your uterus, often go unnoticed.

As a result, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) calls fibroids a “hidden” epidemic. And late Rep. Stephanie Tubs Jones, who was Ohio’s first black female representative in Congress, called it a “silent epidemic.” One that, unfortunately, impacts black women more than any other female population in this country. Here’s why:

What Makes Fibroids Silent? shh animation

Let’s review: many women with fibroids experience symptoms like pelvic pain, heavy periods or periods that last longer than normal. Many of these women also experience fertility challenges.

But, as it turns out, these fibroid symptoms only impact about 20% of women with the growths. Which means that as many as 80% of fibroid sufferers aren’t aware they’ve got a problem. Why is that a big deal?

While fibroids may start off on the smaller side, they often don’t stay that way.  And, as they grow, symptoms might pop up. What does that mean? Women often don’t notice fibroids until they’re quite large, which may limit their treatment options.

Why is the Fibroid Risk for Black Women Higher?

There’s so much we don’t know about why some women develop fibroids and others don’t. That’s largely because we don’t know exactly why fibroids develop in the first place. But no matter what, we know that black women develop fibroids more frequently than all other groups of women. And we want to know why that’s the case.

There are several theories that may explain why the elevated fibroid risk for black women. One is that hair products that are marketed for black women contain harmful chemicals. And those chemicals can increase your fibroid risk.

Recently, a new theory emerged, and it has to do with the environment. In a study in Human Reproduction, researchers discovered a link between air pollution, black women and increased fibroid risk. The study spent 14 years following the health of 22,000 pre-menopausal black women living in 56 cities across the United States. At the same time, researchers tracked the levels of three different air pollutants in those cities. And what they found was surprising.

About 30% of the female participants were diagnosed with fibroids over the course of the study. That rate is on par with what we’d expect from that study size. But here’s the interesting part: when atmospheric ozone levels rose, so did the women’s fibroid risk.

Understanding the Risks

Given this discovery, study author Amelia Wesselink, an assistant professor at Boston University School of Public Health, couldn’t explain why ozone was the major problem. But she did suggest that ozone may reduce your vitamin D levels. And we’ve already linked vitamin D deficiency to fibroid risk.

Right now, the new findings just give us one new clue in the fibroid risk puzzle. But Wesselink now wants to screen larger populations to help us better understand the connection. Of course, that could help us diagnose the many women who are living with fibroids and don’t know it. So, you may want to consider getting screened for fibroids. Especially if you live in a polluted city. And especially if you want to explore less-invasive treatment options, which often work best when fibroids are caught early on.

What are my Fibroid Treatment Options?

How we treat your fibroids will depend on your individual symptoms. At our practice, we offer Uterine Fibroid Embolization, a minimally invasive fibroid treatment. If you are interested in this treatment, here’s the steps you need to take: gather information, talk to your healthcare provider, and request a consultation with our doctors!

We have plenty of information about UFE on our website, and your OB-Gyn may be able to discuss other treatment options. It’s important for you to know that UFE is one of the few options which won’t require a hospital stay or general anesthetic.

It also allows you to keep your uterus, unlike a hysterectomy, which is an all-too-common fibroid treatment. If all of this sounds good to you, then we invite you to request a consultation. At this time, we are happy to offer Telemedicine appointments, so we can begin your fibroid treatment process without making you leave your house!

 

CBD Tampons and Best CBD Lubes for Period and Sex Pain

Have you heard about CBD tampons and CBD lubes relieving period pain or painful sex? These days, there’s a lot of discussion about cannabidiol (CBD) products. Derived from the cannabis (marijuana) plant, CBD offers many potential 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 CBD tampons and CBD lubricant on the market, designed to relieve menstrual pelvic pain or help make sex less painful.

Since painful periods and pain with sex are two common fibroid symptoms, these are two products our doctors want to learn more about. So far, what we’ve discovered is that some women find 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 and CBD lubes really work, and learn how women with period pain or painful sex will be affected by their use.

What are CBD Tampons?

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.

Now, let’s take a look at CBD lube, to see if this cannabinoid-infused product could help make sex with fibroids less painful.

What is CBD Lube?

CBD lube is, quite simply, a personal lubricant infused with cannabidiol. Fans of this product say that it helps relieve everything from pelvic pain to anxiety about sex. (Both of which may be a problem if you’re living with fibroids.)

Now, fortunately, the CBD doesn’t relieve pain by numbing your body. Instead, evidence suggests that the lube can improve your blood flow, which helps you relax and focus on feeling good while you’re intimate with your partner.

Need some product recommendations? Here are a few top picks we’ve discovered after talking to women for whom they’ve worked. (Always talk to your doctor before trying any new intimate product.)

  1. Kiskanu Intimacy Oil. This hemp-derived lubricant contains cold-pressed oil, CBD and calendula.
  2. O by Dani Pepper CBD Lube. For added safety, this water-based lubricant can be used with prophylactics.
  3. Quim Smooth Operator Intimate Serum. This CBD lube is specially formulated for people with pelvic pain, to promote relaxation, increase blood flow and decrease inflammation. Since fibroids and pelvic pain often go hand-in-hand, this could be a great choice for women with uterine tumors.

While our doctors can’t guarantee that CBD lube will deliver pain relief, there should be few downsides if you choose a product with all-natural ingredients. Adding any kind of lubricant with sex can reduce the physical pain of intimacy, so a CBD lube should be fine to try, as long as you review your product choice with your doctor.

Fighting Fibroid Symptoms

Whether it’s CBD tampons or CBD lubes, certain products can temporarily relieve your fibroid pain. Unfortunately, they won’t offer a permanent solution: they can just buy you time until you choose a permanent fibroid treatment. Ready to put painful sex and periods in your past? Our Houston fibroid experts are here to help. All you have to do is schedule a consultation, to learn more about treating your painful fibroid tumors.

Sources: healthline.com, huffpost.com, SF Gate

#WCW: How to Talk About Fibroid Fears

Let’s face it: it’s hard to talk about fibroids. Now, as fibroid specialists in Houston, we know that a fibroid diagnosis doesn’t have to change your entire life. But we also know how scary it can be to learn you have tumors in your uterus—even though they aren’t cancerous. So that’s why his week’s Woman Crush Wednesday is our choice of honoree—she’s getting very real (in a very public way) about her fears over a fibroid diagnosis. Plus, she’s scoring attention nationwide, making it easier for all women to talk about fibroids. Here’s to you, Shay Johnson, for sharing your fibroid story on Love & Hip Hop. And for your new role as the Fibroid Fighters Ambassador!

Spreading the Word  Shay Johnson helps women choose UFE vs hysteretcomy for fibroid treatment

Recently, the Fibroid Fighters association named Shay Johnson as a brand ambassador. Fibroid Fighters is a non-profit group with a mission that’s close to our heart. Their goals include:

  • Educating people about how fibroids cause health, social and economic damages
  • Focusing on research and treatment advances
  • Spreading the word about minimally invasive treatments like uterine fibroid embolization (UFE)

In announcing Shay’s new role, CEO Yan Katsnelson said that the star’s “Willingness to share her ordeal with fibroids will help bring attention to this health epidemic. Women need hear from others that have suffered from fibroids and learn about non-surgical treatments such as Uterine Fibroid Embolism (UFE) that preserve the uterus and can relieve their painful symptoms.”  And those goals are something Shay’s been all about. For a long time now.

Women Need to Talk About Fibroids

When discussing her new role, Shay said, ““At one point, when I had to say the word, fibroids, I was terrified because I had memories of my symptoms and what I had to go through.”

And that was clear when, a few years back, Shay took to her social media accounts, sharing images of her in a hospital bed. She’d been admitted for a blood transfusion. But, at the time, she didn’t explain why she needed that transfusion.

Then, a little while later, she changed all that. Shay explained to her fellow cast member, Michelle Pooch, “There’s a few things going on with me medically that I haven’t told you about. I’m not dying, [but] I do have a medical condition called fibroids.”

In fact, she continued, she has two fibroids—one of them that has grown so large, it’s now the size of the grapefruit. And this, it turns out, was the explanation for last year’s transfusion.

As Shay explained to Michelle, one of her fibroid symptoms is that she has, “heavy menstrual cycles for longer than 15 days, [and] on top of that, I’ve been fainting because I’m losing so much blood.”

Because of her severe symptoms, Shay’s doctor suggested she remove her fibroids surgically (myomectomy.) In telling Michelle about this suggestion, Shay admitted that she was scared—both about her upcoming surgery and about what her monthly periods would look like afterwards.

Providing Women with Other Fibroid Treatment Options

Like many African-American women (who are disproportionately affected by fibroids), Shay opted to treat her fibroids surgically. And that may well be the treatment option that’s best for her. But, many women aren’t told they have non-surgical options, too. That’s why, today, Shay says, “I went through a myomectomy which they removed the fibroids, instead of a hysterectomy that would have removed my uterus.”

Now she knows why we all have to talk about fibroids. She says, “I realized that…the more we speak up about fibroids, the more awareness we can bring to women who are going through the same issue. The more awareness we raise means we can help prevent the miscarriages, the extended periods, and the pelvic pain women experience by having better treatment options.”

Of course, that includes procedures like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), which can help women with severe fibroid symptoms. Typically, the relief they experience will be equal (or even superior to) that of women who’ve had fibroid surgery.

But, in order to experience relief and avoid surgery, women need to know their options. So, while we commend Shay in this post, we also ask for help spreading the word. We want you to know that there are non-surgical treatment options. And we invite you to explore them with a fibroids consultation in our office. Now, will you help us help women #ask4UFE? If you do, you just might earn a spot in our #WCW hall of fame!

 

Forget Fibroid Myths & Ask these 7 Fibroid Doctor Questions

One of the biggest problems in women’s health is myths that keep you from asking the right fibroid doctor questions. Even though 70-80% of women can have fibroids during their life, many women don’t know what uterine fibroids are, and sometimes don’t learn about all of their treatment options. Here are a few myths and misconceptions about fibroids, explained by our interventional radiologists who specialize in treating fibroids. After you’ve read through those myths, discover the most important questions to ask your fibroid specialists!

Myths about uterine fibroidsMyth 1: Fibroids, Tumors, Polyps, and Cysts are the Same

In a recent blog post, we discussed the differences and similarities between fibroids and polyps in the uterus. But, you may hear other similar terms, like tumor or cyst. Many people don’t know whether these terms mean the same thing, or they all refer to different conditions.

  • A fibroid is a benign growth and is rarely associated with cancer. These growths develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. You may hear a fibroid referred to as a “fibroid tumor” even though it is benign.
  • A polyp is made of endometrium tissue and is usually benign.
  • A cyst will develop on the ovaries and can be malignant.
  • The phrase “uterine tumors” typically signifies uterine fibroids, and are benign. Uterine cancer, however, refers to a malignant growth of cells in the uterus.

Myth 2: A Fibroid Tumor is Cancerous

Fibroids are almost always benign and rarely turn into cancer. The difference in symptoms between cancer and a benign fibroid will help your doctor diagnose a growth as malignant. Cancer is sometimes diagnosed during surgery for what is thought to be benign fibroid tumors.

Myth 3: Fibroids Have Consistent, Defined Symptoms

There is no one symptom that will alert you to the fact that you have uterine fibroids. Many women have uterine fibroids at some point during their life, but most don’t have any symptoms. The most common symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged periods, or pelvic pain, but there are other symptoms that women can experience.

Myth 4: Surgery is Your Best Option

If you don’t experience symptoms, treatment isn’t necessary, and many fibroids will shrink after menopause. There are a variety of treatment options available if you do experience symptoms. For women who want a non-surgical alternative, want to preserve their uterus, or want a quicker recovery period, Uterine Fibroid Embolization may be recommended.

Myth 5: Fibroids Continue to Grow, and will Grow Back after Treatment

Fibroids typically grow in alignment with hormone levels, which is why symptoms worsen during menstruation. This is also the reason fibroids may grow during pregnancy, but shrink after menopause. We cut off the existing fibroid’s blood flow during UFE, and it is very rare for them to regrow. In one study, only 5% of women needed additional treatment after UFE.

7 Fibroid Doctor Questions to Ask Our Specialists

Now that we’ve debunked the major fibroid myths, we want you to get the most out of your visit to our Houston fibroid practice. So here are the Top 7 fibroid doctor questions to bring up during your visit. (With a few basic answers). We hope they will help guide you towards your best treatment options.

1. HOW DO FIBROIDS DEVELOP?

The truth is, we don’t really know why. But we do know that African-American women have a higher risk for fibroids. And that they’re most common before you reach menopause.

2. ARE ALL FIBROIDS THE SAME?

Actually, there are four types of fibroids, classified by location.

3.  WILL MY FIBROIDS CAUSE PROBLEMS?

If you’re seeking treatment, you probably know this already. But fibroids can affect your periods, your sex life and your fertility.

4. WHAT IS AN INTERVENTIONAL RADIOLOGIST?

Our team of specialists are Interventional radiologists. We offer minimally-invasive, image-guided treatments for fibroids.

5. WHAT ARE MY FIBROID TREATMENT OPTIONS?

As we said before, forget the fibroid myth that surgery is your only option. There are other ways to manage fibroids, including lifestyle changes and UFE.

6. WHY WOULD I CHOOSE UFE OVER SURGERY?

With UFE, you experience fibroid relief. You can also avoid scarring and hospital stays. Plus, there’s no need for  general anesthesia and a shorter recovery period. Most importantly, you can keep your uterus and avoid symptoms. All while enjoying quick symptom relief. 

7. WHEN WILL I START FEELING BETTER AFTER UFE?

With a few days of your treatment, symptoms should improve. But remember, you’ll also be recovering from UFE. And a full recovery could take up to 2 weeks. Then, over the weeks that follow, you should see symptoms–and your fibroids–disappear.

Ready to forget those harmful fibroid myths and get answers to your important treatment questions? Our Houston fibroid specialists are here to help. Simply reach out to our office and schedule a fibroid treatment consultation. We’ll help you understand your diagnosis. And, together, we’ll decide if you’re a good candidate for UFE.

Sources: Mayo Clinic

 

5 Ways to Get Rid of Painful Period Cramps

One of the worst parts of your monthly cycle is painful period cramps. For many women, the arrival of your period means the start of painful cramping. Sometimes, those cramps are so intrusive, they keep you from going through your daily activities. In fact, according to an Australian survey, 3 out of 10 girls skip at least one class a month because of period pain.

(If that’s your situation, and your period is also very heavy, you may have uterine fibroids. Be sure and talk to your healthcare provider.) And, we also want you to remember this fact. No matter what’s causing your menstrual cramps, relief may be available sooner (and easier) than you’d think. Try our top five tips for getting rid of period cramps!

Medical and Lifestyle Interventions That Can Help Manage Period Cramps

Depending on how bad your period pain is, one or more of these tips can help you feel better:

1.       Heat therapy. Try putting a heating pad on your lower abdomen. If that’s not an option, relax into a warm bath. Both these options should help relax your uterine muscles, easing those cramps and alleviating much of your discomfort.

2.       Get your sweat on. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins—hormones that naturally make you feel good and can help battle pain. If you’re able to get to the gym for a few 45 min- 1 hour sessions in the initial days of your periods, your cramping discomfort will likely calm down. But remember, if you have fibroids, you may need to change your workout a bit. Here are the best ways to exercise with fibroids. So you can get period relief and fibroid relief while you explore your treatment options!

3.       Self-care. Though not helpful for everyone, many women find relief from menstrual pain through massage and acupuncture. And, while we can’t attest to scientific evidence that these treatments help, if they work for you then there’s no harm in trying!

4.       OTC (over-the-counter) meds. If your period pain is strong (but not debilitating) you may find relief from drugs like:
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
Naproxen (Aleve)
Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

5.       Treat your fibroids. If non-cancerous uterine tumors are causing your painful periods, treatment should give you a permanent solution to your cramps. At our office, we offer a minimally-invasive option known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE.) Talk to your healthcare provider, or schedule a consult with our Houston fibroid specialists, to see if UFE is right for you!

Sources: The Conversation

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