Category: Fibroids and Pregnancy

#WCW: Kandi Burruss Explores Surrogacy after Fibroids

Recently, Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burruss opened up about her journey to expand her family. The reality star already shares two children with husband but is now considering surrogacy as an option. She shared her reasons with the entire country, on Bravo TV, on the November 25 episode of her show. For her bravery, we’ve nominated Kandi as our Woman Crush Wednesday honoree! 

On that episode, Kandi is seen at an OBGYN appointment with Dr. Jackie Walters. They talk about the complications she experienced when pregnant with Ace, her now-2-year-old son. Even though Kandi had surgery to remove fibroids before conceiving Ace through IVF, she thinks some fibroids remained. Because of those fibroids, she says, ” [I had] a couple of scares during my pregnancy with Ace. I was a high risk and I did have bleeding a few times.”

Fibroids during pregnancy can certainly affect a mother’s ability to carry her child to term. Depending on size and location, uterine fibroids can lead to pre-term labor or miscarriage, if a woman is able to conceive at all. 

While Kandi was previously able to conceive with fibroids, she has not been as lucky while trying to have a third child. “I know there was still some fibroids after pregnancy,” she says. “I feel like it got worse because Ace is two now and [no conception is] happening.”

Ultimately, Kandi accepted the fact that she will not carry another child herself: “My womb is just, it’s not the best place to have a healthy pregnancy with no issues,” she admitted to her doctor. Still, she’s not ready to give up on her family dream, so Kandi is looking for a surrogate to carry the two remaining embryos she has from going through the IVF process. 

For women who still want to have families, dealing with fibroids can be a challenge. There’s no way around that fact. But what strong women like Kandi Burruss are proving is that fibroids don’t have to derail your plans. There are multiple treatment options available and many different ways to complete your family. All you need to do is stay open to possibilities, and work with your fibroid specialists to find the plan that works best for you and your family. 

 

 

Why Location Matters When it Comes to Fibroids

If you’ve been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, it means you have abnormal growths (made up of muscle cells and fibrous tissues) in your uterus. These fibroids are non-cancerous, and can vary in size and location. And while fibroids in any location have the potential to cause uncomfortable side effects, fibroids in certain locations will affect your ability to conceive more than others. 

Fibroids that grow mainly  away from the uterine cavity are called subserosal. Fibroids within the muscle wall are called intramural. Fibroids that grow into the uterine cavity are called submucosal. While having fibroids doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant, submucosal and intramural fibroids can make it difficult to become pregnant or carry your child to term. Pregnant women usually wait to begin treatment until after they’ve delivered, but if you’re having trouble conceiving, seeking immediate treatment is a good idea.

Obviously, a fibroid that is inside the uterine cavity (submucosal) is most likely to impact conception, but large masses in any location can also cause problems. In fact, a submucosal fibroid can make it 70% harder for a woman to get pregnant!  Large fibroids take a toll on fertility in a variety of ways: they can change the shape of your uterus and cervix, or they can block or slow down the movement of a man’s sperm or a fertilized embryo. They can also block your fallopian tubes from releasing eggs, or affect the quality and thickness of your uterine lining. 

For all these reasons, women who know they have fibroids should consult with their doctors before trying to get pregnant. Even if immediate treatment is not necessary, knowing the size and location of your fibroids will help you make informed decisions throughout your conception and pregnancy journey. It’s also important to let your fibroid specialist know about future family planning, as the course of treatment he or she recommends may differ based on your short and long term pregnancy goals.

Six Problems That Could Hurt Your Fertility

Regardless of whether you want to have a child, your fertility is an important part of female health. It’s therefore so important to understand medical conditions and external factors that could cause female infertility. Here are six of the top culprits to explore for possible causes if you’re dealing with infertility: 

1. Problems with fallopian tubespain from uterine fibroids

When functioning properly, your fallopian tubes act as a highway for your eggs. During ovulation, eggs travel down the tubes; if an egg meets sperm at the end of its journey, it can become a fertilized embryo. If, however, your fallopian tubes become blocked or damaged, sperm can’t meet your eggs. And even if the sperm and egg do connect, the fertilized embryo will have a harder time travelling to your uterus for implantation.  While many things can cause damage to your fallopian tubes, PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) and STIs or STDs are often responsible.

2. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition in which endometrium, the tissue that’s normally found in the lining of your uterus grows outside the uterus. Often, this misplaced tissue develops in your ovaries or fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can be painful. It affects your menstrual cycle and, often, your ability to conceive.

3. PCOS

PCOS, or Polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a hormonal disorder that causes your ovaries to become enlarged and covered in cysts at their edges. Another characteristic of this condition is that women produce more male hormones than is typical. Approximately 10% of women are affected by PCOS. Symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, obesity, excess hair growth, higher risks of diabetes and acne.

 4. Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in or on your uterus. Fibroids can develop inside your uterus, on its lining, inside its wall or even on the outer surface of your uterus. Fibroids can affect your menstrual cycle, your ability to conceive and your ability to carry a successful pregnancy to term.

5. Thyroid conditions

Thyroid hormones regulate, among other things, fertility and pregnancy in as much as they are a major part of human growth and development. Hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid hormone levels are low, can stop your ovaries from releasing eggs for fertilization.

 
6. Egg problems

Every woman has a different number and quality of eggs that may be produced by her ovaries. Some women have fairly low egg counts. Other women have plenty of eggs, but the ones she has are not up to the task of creating a baby.  Egg count and quality decrease with age, so women with advanced maternal age may be inclined to check their egg quality when grappling with infertility.

 

Unfortunately, many different causes of infertility manifest with the same symptom—irregular or heavy menstrual cycles. In many cases, you can only pinpoint the cause of your infertility by ruling out all other possibilities. If you are concerned that fibroids may be the cause of your infertility issues, schedule a consultation with Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee in our Houston area fibroid clinic today.

 

 

#WCW: Porsha Williams Hospitalized for Fibroids

A few weeks ago, we nominated Real Housewives of Atlanta star Porsha Williams as our #WomanCrushWednesday because of her bravery. After years of struggling with fertility and miscarriage due to uterine fibroids, she was finally pregnant–and ready to share her story, giving other women hope for their own happy endings. 

This week, Porsha is once again our #WCW, but for a sobering reason. Porsha, who is now well into her pregnancy, is currently in the hospital, reportedly because of complications from a large fibroid tumor. 

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in a woman’s uterus. Prior to becoming pregnant, Porsha had undergone myomectomy surgery to remove a fibroid, but clearly a new one has developed. According to People.com, Porsha “is suffering some pregnancy complications due to large fibroids. She was admitted to the hospital and will be staying a little longer than expected. Heartbeat and baby are strong.”

While Porsha is likely to go home soon, this is certainly a stressful time for the star and her family. Still, she’s staying positive, welcoming friend and co-star NeNe Leakes for a visit. Neakes posted a picture of her pal to Instagram, reassuring fans that Porsha and the baby are ok, but asking for prayers and good wishes. 

Pregnancy with fibroids is possible, but the growths can cause complications. Between 10 and 30 percent of pregnant fibroid sufferers will experience complications. Problems range from mild to severe, and can include: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Light vaginal bleeding
  • Increased risk of premature delivery 
  • Abnormal fetal position
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Increased risk of cesarean section

Treating Fibroids During Pregnancy

In an ideal situation, a woman’s fibroids would be treated before she became pregnant. Many women, however, don’t know they have fibroids until after they’ve conceived! Once a pregnant woman is found to have fibroids, most symptoms can be treated with minimal intervention. With the help of bed rest, and occasional pain medications (as prescribed by your OBGYN) most fibroid symptoms will resolve within a few days. 

Firboids should also be monitored throughout your pregnancy. The hormonal changes affecting your body during this time may cause the tumors to get bigger. In some case, the hormones have the opposite effect, shrinking the fibroids as your baby grows. 

Whatever your situation or symptoms, staying aware of your fibroid symptoms during your pregnancy will help ensure a safe and on time delivery for your baby. Once your child is born, you can determine the best treatment option for your specific situation. 

#WCW: Porsha William’s Pregnancy with Fibroids

For years, Real Housewives of Atlanta Star Porsha Williams has kept quiet about her struggle with fibroids. Even when it hurt her attempts to get pregnant. But now that the Bravo star is expecting her first child, she’s opening up about her journey. Her decision to share this story makes her our very special Woman Crush Wednesday of the week! 

When Ms. Williams was married to her ex-husband, Kordell Stewart, she suffered a miscarriage and then tried for six years to get pregnant again. During this difficult period, Porsha found out she had uterine fibroids (non-cancerous tumors that grow in the uterus) that could be affecting her ability to carry a baby. Because of her age and hopes for a family, Porsha sought fertility-saving treatment. She ultimately had a myomectomy–a surgery that removed her fibroid but kept her uterus in place and in tact. 

While her marriage ended, her hopes for a baby did not and, just recently, she proudly announced that she’s expecting her first child with boyfriend Dennis McKinley. While her story end happily, Porsha admits that it’s been a tough road for the couple. 

“It’s something we’ve both always wanted,” Porsha told People magazine, also sharing that McKinley’s “probably shed more tears during the process than me.” 

Fear and Joy
Even hearing that she was finally pregnant was a tense moment for Porsha. On the way into her first pregnancy scan, she wondered, “Because I suffer with fibroids and had to have a myomectomy [I kept thinking] ‘Is the baby going to be okay? Will I make it full term?’ All those questions that you ask if you’ve had a miscarriage before.” 

Thankfully, Porsha’s pregnancy seems to be progressing well, and she and Mr. McKinley look forward to welcoming their child in 2019. As Houston fibroid doctors who work to give women alternatives to hysterectomies, we love hearing stories like Dennis and Porsha’s. Too many women believe that they must undergo a hysterectomy in order to treat their uterine fibroids, but brave women like Ms. Williams are showing the rest of us that that is not the case. Pregnancy is possible, even after fibroids. As long as women know their options and make their voices heard, uterine fibroids do not have to mean the end of their fertility! Thank you to Porsha and to all our other brave #WCWs for making their voices heard and giving fellow women the power of information. 

Will Fibroids Make me Infertile?

For women who haven’t completed their families, a fibroid diagnosis can be scary: one of the first questions we often hear from patients is, “Can I still have a baby if I have fibroid tumors?”  Fibroid Treatment After Pregnancy

The answer is, unfortunately, not completely clear cut. Without treatment, some women will still be able to get pregnant, but many women will have trouble conceiving without some kind of fibroid treatment. If fibroids stay small, or develop in places where fertility isn’t affected, becoming pregnant may not be a problem. If, however, the fibroids become very large, they may physically block your egg from joining up with male sperm. Even if the sperm and egg are able to join together, a large fibroid could stop the new embryo from becoming implanted in your uterine lining. And, even if an embryo does implant, an untreated tumor can negatively impact the health and growth of a developing fetus. 

So, that’s the bad news…at least part of it. Fibroids can also affect women’s fertility in other, less obvious, ways: 

  • Some fibroids may change the shape of your cervix, limiting the number of sperm that are able to enter your uterus. 
  • Fibroids can also change the shape of your uterus, potentially decreasing the number of places in which an embryo can successfully implant. 
  • Fibroids can weaken the lining of the uterine cavity. They can also decrease the amount of blood reaching a growing fetus. Both of these issues can cause a pregnant woman to miscarry.

Fibroids Don’t Have to End Your Fertility Journey

With all the tolls fibroids can take on your reproductive system, there is still good news: many women who have been diagnosed with fibroids go on to have one or more children. While many women used to automatically undergo hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus) after learning they had fibroids, these days there are many fertility-preserving options. 

Many women who plan on having children will choose to have a myomectomy (surgically remove the uterine fibroid.) Other women will choose to have a less invasive procedure, like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), that shrinks their fibroids by permanently cutting off the non-cancerous tumor’s blood supply. Although the research is not conclusive, many women who have UFE have been able to move on and complete their families in the way they want. 

A fibroid diagnosis can certainly be scary, especially if you aren’t done having children, but in this case, knowledge really is power. Getting informed about all your options and choosing the best solution for your family will go a long way towards keeping fibroids from derailing your reproductive plans. 

#WCW: Kandi Buress on Fertility and Fibroids

Today, Bravo TV star Kandi Buress is reportedly pregnant with her third child, but just three years ago she came forward to talk about how fibroids had taken a major toll on her fertility. In 2015, the then 38-year-old had been trying for two years, unsuccessfully, to have a second child. When she and husband Todd Tucker finally decided to turn to IVF for help conceiving, the couple discovered what was at the heart of their fertility problem: Kandi had a uterine fibroid. 

Getting Candid
“We realized I had a fibroid—a big one—inside the cavity of the uterus where your baby would implant,” the reality star has said. Like Kandi, many women with uterine fibroids experience difficulties becoming pregnant but, luckily for Kandi, her story had a happy ending, one she chose to share with fans in order to give other women hope. 

“Luckily for us, it was a blessing, and we actually had success with the first IVF treatment,” said Burruss. “It takes a couple of months for you to go through the whole process of injections, retrieving the eggs and all of that stuff, then allowing them to put them back in and praying that they take. One of our eggs took.”

Recovery and Conception
Of course, some women cannot conceive that easily with fibroids, and they must treat the tumors before they can become pregnant. Many fibroid suffers think surgery is the only option if they want to preserve fertility, but that’s not actually true! In our Houston Fibroid office, we offer a non-surgical, minimally invasive treatment known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization. Women who undergo UFE experience permanent shrinking of their existing tumors–and pregnancy is still a possibility afterwards! 

There have been reports of many successful pregnancies in patients after UFE. Many studies show that fertility rates and miscarriage rates in UFE patients are no different than patients of the same age with fibroids who have had no treatment. The fact still remains, however, that patients hoping to get pregnant may prefer to undergo a myomectomy (surgical fibroid removal) if they are healthy enough to withstand surgery because some studies have shown that pregnancy complications may be slightly more common after UFE compared with myomectomy. 

The important thing to remember in all this is that a fibroid diagnosis does not mean the end of your dream to carry a child. Like Kandi Buress and many other women, your path to fertility can be successful. It’s simply a question of knowing your options and making the informed decision that’s best for your body and your family. 

#WCW: Gabrielle Union, Fertility Warrior!

Welcome back to Woman Crush Wednesday! This week we’re celebrating Gabrielle Union, who’s opening up about adenomyosis, a condition that threatens the fertility of many women around the world.  

Gabrielle’s journey began when she and husband Dwayne Wade (of the NBA’s Miami Heat) decided to start a family. Unable to conceive on their own, Gabrielle says she turned to many unsuccessful rounds of IVF to try and become pregnant. Instead of getting support from her doctors, however, the star says she was basically blamed for her own infertility: “Everyone had just sort of chalked it up to ‘You’re a career woman, you’ve prioritized your career, you waited too long and now you’re just too old to have a kid,'” she said. “And that’s on you for wanting a career.”

Fortunately, Gabrielle did not stop looking for answers and, soon enough, she and her doctors discovered the truth: she had adenomyosis, a type of endometriosis that can cause infertility. 

According to Gabrielle, who now wants to raise infertility awareness among women of all ages, she’s had the condition since she was in her 20s. Adenomyosis occurs when uterine lining tissue is found in the muscle layers surrounding the uterus. It is sometimes hard to diagnose because the misplaced tissue acts like other uterine tissue, shedding itself at the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Many women have no symptoms, though some experience cramping, pelvic pain and unusual spotting. 

Any woman who has had uterine surgery, including fibroid removals and/or a cesarean section, is at risk for developing adenomyosis; women between the ages of 40 and 50 make up 80 percent of diagnosed cases, so age also appears to be a risk factor. 

Complications like Gabrielle Union’s are just one reason our doctors encourage early, non-invasive treatment options for uterine fibroids. After all, as Ms. Union is now telling fans as she relates her story of struggle, “Fertility is not an older women issue, it is an issue period.”

#WCW: Tanika Gray Valburn

It’s #WomanCrushWednesday, and we just had to kick off our series by honoring fibroids warrior Tamika Gray Valburn, founder of The White Dress Project. For years, Tanika suffered from fibroids, having been diagnosed in her teens and having seen her mom lose two sets of twins due to her own fibroids! Eventually, Tanika had to have a myomectomy, surgically removing 27 fibroids from her uterus. 

After her recovery, Tanika 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. While thinking about her experiences, Tanika realized that she’d never bought white clothing. She said, “I hadn’t been able to wear white” because of her fibroid symptoms, which included very heavy bleeding. “Something like that seems so trivial, but for me it was another reminder that I had the mental anxiety of not being able to participate in things.” 

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!