Category: News

5 Fibroid Myths to Forget Right Now

If you’ve been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, people will likely inundate you with information and opinions. Unfortunately, not everything you hear will actually be true. To help you sift through the info overload, here are 10 common thoughts about fibroid tumors that are totally and completely untrue: 

MYTH #1: Fibroids are cancers.

Because they are tumors, many patients worry that their fibroids are a sign of cancer. Fortunately, that’s completely untrue! Fibroids are benign growths; they aren’t linked to uterine cancer. They can be painful and cause disruptive symptoms like pelvic pain and heavy bleeding, but they are not typically a life-threatening condition.  

MYTH #2: Women with fibroids need a hysterectomy

For years, women with fibroids were told that hysterectomy was their only treatment option. Today, however, that is no longer the case. Myomectomies can be performed to surgically remove individual tumors, or women may seek Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a minimally invasive option. This nonsurgical procedure is performed on an outpatient basis; it treats fibroids while preserving a woman’s uterus.

MYTH #3: Women with fibroids can’t get or stay pregnant.

While some fibroids may affect your ability to conceive, or may complicate your pregnancy and delivery process, others will not have any impact on your fertility. If you have fibroids and are having a hard time conceiving, however, seeking fibroid treatment may improve your odds of starting a family.

MYTH #4: Removed fibroids don’t come back

While we’d like to believe that women will only require one round of fibroid treatments, this is not always the case. For some women, fibroids will recur after an initial treatment. For this reason, surgery may not be an ideal treatment option. While many women solve their fibroid issues after one round of UFE, those who require additional treatment will at least not be dealing with multiple invasive surgeries.

MYTH #5: All women with fibroids have heavy periods and pelvic pain.

With fibroids, as with life, every woman is different. Some women with fibroids will present with these common symptoms. Others will experience no symptoms whatsoever, and may in fact be surprised by their diagnoses. Still others will face constipation, frequent urination or other issues. What’s key is to see your OBGYN for regular exams, and to bring up any side effect or symptom that is unusual for your individual body.

Warning: Excess Weight Could Delay a Fibroid Diagnosis

Women with uterine fibroids typically experience symptoms like heavy or prolonged periods, weight gain, protruding bellies, constipation and pelvic pain. But what if you already experienced many of those symptoms because you were carrying extra weight? It would certainly make it harder to recognize an abnormal (but non-cancerous) growth in your uterus! UAE treatment for Adenomyosis

Missed Fibroid Symptoms

 

For one woman from Wales, that was exactly what happened. Tina Mathias, at her heaviest, weighed almost 340 pounds. She suffered from chronic back pain and constipation, but when she shared these symptoms with her doctor, they were considered a byproduct of her poor diet and excess weight. 

At the time, Tina assumed her doctors were correct. “My periods were normal which is why I didn’t think it was a problem with my reproductive system,”  she says. 

In the hopes of improving her health and alleviating her worst symptoms, Tina set out on a weight loss journey. She was extremely successful, dropping 182 pounds, but her problems didn’t resolve. 

“I’d lost so much weight and I thought I’d be healthier, but the pain in my lower back, sides and abdomen carried on,” she says. “Then it got so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed and I would wince if my husband touched me.” 

Still, Tina didn’t think her problems could be caused by fibroids. She simply continued eating healthfully, trying to lose more weight and hoping to feel better. 

 

Finding Answers

Finally, when Tina was extremely thin, she had a moment that put everything into perspective. 

“When I really slimmed down, my belly was still so large. I looked six months pregnant,” she says. “Someone in work asked me when the baby was due and that’s when I knew something really wasn’t right.”

Still, doctors didn’t immediately figure out what was ailing Tina. They attributed her constipation to a low calorie diet, and didn’t think to examine her for fibroids until sex with her husband became extremely painful. Finally, she was sent for a scan, and doctors discovered a nine-pound fibroid, made of muscle and fibrous tissue, that had likely been growing in her uterus for a decade or more!

It was now dangerously close to perforating her bowel, and doctors told her she needed a life-saving hysterectomy. Just 36 at the time, Tina was devastated but, since the tumor was so large and in such a dangerous location, she had no choice. Now 43, Tina has had to give up on her dreams of having a family, but she is living a happy, healthy and pain-free life. 

 

Recognizing Fibroid Symptoms

The saddest part of this story is that, had someone diagnosed Tina’s fibroid earlier on, she could have preserved her fertility. That’s why its important for women to know all of the symptoms of fibroids. Its crucial to recognize that, even if your periods are normal, you may still have a problem. You also need to be your own advocate: if your pain persists and your doctor insists its because of your weight, it’s not time to give up hope: it’s time to get a second opinion. The earlier you treat fibroids, the more options that will be available for your treatment.  

 

Even Penguins Get Fibroids!

Fibroids (non-cancerous growths that develop in the uterus) are very common: in fact, about 80% of all women will develop one or more fibroids by the age of 50. While that statistic may seem surprising, here’s something you may find even more unexpected: fibroids are a problem in the animal kingdom, too! 

Take Bette, an 18-inch African penguin living at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA. recently, she had to have surgery to remove a mass from her abdomen as well as several fibroid tumors from her uterus. 

While any kind of uterine surgery can be complicated, the process is particularly trying on a penguin: the compact bird’s body is protected by thick feathers (her surgeons used a mustache clipper to get through and make an incision) and three separate layers of skin and blubber, each of which required its own stitches. 

Thankfully, Bette recovered well from her surgery. Just days after the procedure, she was hopping around her recovery enclosure, ready to play with toys. Her full recovery was expected to take 10 days, at which point Bette will return to her long time penguin mate, Sidney, and their babies, Sunshine and D.J.

Unfortunately, human patients don’t bounce back from surgery as quickly as penguins. In fact, according to recent studies, women who treat their fibroids via hysterectomy will face long term health consequences, including an increased risk of obesity and heart disease! 

That’s the bad news…but here’s the good news. Unlike penguins, humans with fibroids have access to non-surgical treatment options. Minimally invasive fibroid treatments like embolization make for quicker recovery times with less complications down the road. So, if you’re dealing with a fibroid diagnosis and want to explore minimally invasive treatment plans, reach out to Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee, your Houston area fibroid specialists! 

Dr. Oz Takes on Fibroids!

During their lifetime, most women will develop uterine fibroids–a type of benign tumor that can wreak havoc on your general and sexual health. In recognition of this widespread problem, Dr. Oz recently devoted an entire episode of his daytime talk show to discussing this widespread female health problem. 

In the show, Dr. Oz revealed that a shocking 70% of women are affected by fibroids, but most don’t know that they have a problem. How could that be? The reason is simple: too many women don’t know what symptoms they need to look for, or how to assess their fibroid risk. 

More About Fibroids

Fibroids are not cancerous, but they are abnormal growths in your uterus. Typically, they develop in pre-menopausal women.  They get larger thanks to estrogen stimulation, which means pregnancy can speed up fibroid growth. Women with fibroids can have normal pregnancies, but they need to be monitored carefully throughout. Some women with fibroids will have difficulty conceiving or carrying a baby to term. 

Diagnosing Fibroids
Your doctors can detect fibroid warning signs during a routine pelvic exam; if your uterus feels unusual, especially if it seems larger than normal, you may have fibroids. At that point, your doctor may recommend a pelvic ultrasound to complete your diagnosis.

Fibroid Symptoms
Fibroids can push on your bladder, making you pee much more or less than you normally do. Fibroids can also make your period flow much heavier than usual, and they can cause you to feel pressure and pain in your pelvic region. Many women with fibroids also experience back pain.  

Who’s At Risk? 

Women whose mom’s had fibroids, overweight women  and African-American women all have elevated fibroid risks. Of course, it’s important to note that not all at-risk women will develop fibroids. In the same way, women with no known risk factors may end up dealing with fibroids. 

Regardless of your history, it’s important to remember that fibroids don’t have to change your life. With today’s advancements in interventional radiology, fibroids can be treated without surgery. You DON’T need to have a hysterectomy to beat the pain. They key to treating fibroids is to discuss all your options with your doctor, and to make sure you choose the option that works best for your lifestyle and future family goals. 

 

Dr. Hardee Joins UFE Specialists in Portugal

Last month, Dr. Eric Hardee travelled all the way to Lisbon, Portugal for CIRSE 2018 (the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology Society of Europe’s annual conference.)

During his four days in Lisbon, Dr. Hardee joined 7000 other Interventional Radiologists at seminars and presentations highlighting major advancements in the field.  At the conference, Dr. Hardee and his colleagues learned about major new advancements in patient care. He was introduced to new clinical case studies. And he had the chance to meet with other Uterine Fibroid Embolization specialists, including Dr. Jim Spies (pictured at right with Dr. Hardee.) Dr. Spies is considered one of the top UFE specialists in the United States, and it was an incredible opportunity for Dr. Hardee to meet with Dr. Spies and bring back new techniques and perspectives to our Houston Fibroids practice.

Although international travel is not always easy, Dr. Hardee left his family and his patients in order to remain at the forefront of alternative treatments for fibroids. Too many women diagnosed with fibroids believe that surgery—either myomectomies or hysterectomies—are their only treatment options.

As a provider of UFE, a minimally-invasive, outpatient fibroid treatment, Dr. Hardee knows that knowledge is power. For women with fibroids, knowing all their treatment options could preserve their fertility and spare them a long hospital stay and recovery period. For UFE providers like Dr. Hardee, continuing to work on treatment advancements will not only help his own patients, but it may just help spread the word about non-invasive fibroid treatments. And for a cause like that, crossing the Atlantic is well worth the trip (plus, it doesn’t hurt that Lisbon is awfully beautiful!)

This Woman had a Fibroid the Size of a Baby!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Fibroid Patients Don’t Need Hysterectomies

When it comes to fibroid symptoms like heavy bleeding, different doctors offer different treatments, but many opt for surgical removal or even hysterectomy (the complete removal of a woman’s uterus.) Since 1995, however, a different option has been available: like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee at Houston Fibroids, doctors can now treat fibroids with embolization, a process that cuts off blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink without invasive surgery.  

While there have been debates about each option, a new study from Denmark has now proved that patients have better long-term outcomes after embolization! 

Concrete Proof
Known as the EMMY study, this Dutch trial followed 156 women for 10 years after they were treated for uterine fibroids. All of the women had symptoms that made them eligible for hysterectomies. Of these women, 81 were treated with embolization and 75 had hysterectomies. Ten years after their procedures, researchers questioned the women on their quality of life and came up with very interesting findings: of the women who had embolization, only 28 needed a hysterectomy. The remaining 53 women who avoided hysterectomies reported similar health satisfaction to those 75 women who were given immediate hysterectomies. In short, the results prove that hysterectomies typically don’y need to be the first plan of attack in a fibroid treatment plan. As study leader Jim Reekers says, “Uterine artery embolization is a well-documented and good alternative to hysterectomy for symptomatic uterine fibroids, on which all eligible patients should be counseled.” 

Find Out More
As this study shows, hysterectomy is often avoidable when it comes to treating fibroids. Even in women who eventually will require a hysterectomy, embolization treatments can delay the need for major surgery and, of course, the onset of menopause that comes with a hysterectomy. When it comes to your health, knowledge is power. Before undergoing a life-altering hysterectomy procedure, or any kind of invasive fibroid treatment plan, schedule a consultation with our office team to discuss your eligibility for UFE, our highly effective, minimally invasive fibroid treatment option.