Category: News

These 2 Factors Delay Fibroids Diagnosis

Sometimes, it’s hard to get your fibroids diagnosis. Often, women with uterine fibroids develop symptoms. These include long, heavy periods; weight gain; bloating; constipation and pelvic pain. But what if you already experienced many of those symptoms, because you were carrying extra weight? Or because of other conditions? 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.

A Familiar Story

Nkem Osian is a Nigerian American who spent months living with heavy periods. She told Verywell Health that she waited to see her doctor because, “Talking about reproductive health was always taboo. Although I knew that my mother and sisters had experienced heavy periods, it wasn’t something that we ever really discussed. So when my periods started changing in my late twenties, I felt like it was just part of being female.”

Sadly, like Tina, Nkem delayed seeking help for her symptoms. Even though, she says, “I was bleeding for two weeks at a time, sometimes with significant spotting in between cycles. There were many times when I would bleed through my clothes on the train from my home in New Jersey to my office in New York. It was humiliating, but what could I do? That was just my life.”

Even worse? Nkem was passing large clots. And, while we tell patients that clots bigger than a quarter are a sign of concern, Nkem’s were even larger. She says, “They were the size of my fist and very painful to pass.” Still, she waited to see her doctor. So that, by the time she made an appointment, she was told, “You have a blood level not conducive to life.”

Clearly, at that point, Nkem’s doctor knew she needed help. But that’s not always the case. In fact, some women feel ignored by their physicians. In fact, a recent survey from the Fibroid Foundation found that 37% of women surveyed needed to see two or three different doctors before getting a fibroid diagnosis. Even worse? 15% of the women needed to see as many as five doctors before diagnosis. And a shocking 7% saw over five doctors before finding out what was wrong. Obviously, that can delay your fibroid diagnosis. (And treatment!)

Brush Offs from Doctors Delay Fibroids Diagnosis

An IUD or birth control with fibroids can help heavy periods

That was the case for LaToya Dwight, who also spent years living with fibroid symptoms. Every day, she faced fatigue or bloating. Some days brought painful sex, others saw cramping and constipation. But, despite seeing the same OB-GYN for 12 years, fibroids never entered the conversation. Until she went to get her IUD removed. And her doctor couldn’t locate the device inside her uterus!

After the Fibroids Diagnosis: Finding Answers

For Tina, answers came when she got thin, and 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.

For LaToya, answers came in a different way. When her OB ordered an ultrasound to find the missing IUD, the technician asked her about her fibroids and symptoms. But the problem was, that was the first time anyone told her that she had these growths!

Once LaToya got back to her OB’s office, the only guidance she received was to get a hysterectomy. But, unlike Tina, LaToya still had fibroid treatment options. At first, she tried lifestyle changes and eating to help her fibroids. Then, through research, she found out about UFE, and found her minimally-invasive solution.

And Nkem? Well, initially, her doctor found one large fibroid. And put her on birth control to try and manage symptoms. But she developed more fibroids. So, now, she’s exploring treatment options instead of managing her symptoms. And she’s part of The White Dress project, to help ease the path for other women with fibroids.

Recognizing Fibroid Symptoms

Luckily, LaToya got a happy ending. But 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.

Or, if your doctor tells you to get a hysterectomy, get a second opinion and do your research! Because the earlier you treat fibroids, the more options that will be available for your treatment. And please remember: we welcome all women to our Houston fibroid treatment practice for second opinion treatment consultations. So schedule your appointment today!

Sources: DailymailHealthline

 

Here’s Why Congress Must Pass the Fibroid Bill

Just before she made history as the first female VP, Kamala Harris introduced a new fibroid bill.  Why? After all these years, we still don’t know why women develop these non-cancerous tumors. Thankfully, the Senator’s bill to fund fibroid research and education will change all that.

Senator Harris told Refinery 29, “Millions of women across the country are affected by uterine fibroids, which can present serious health complications. (These include) maternal mortality and morbidity, an ongoing crisis, especially for Black women.”

And she continued. “We have an opportunity to change that with the Uterine Fibroids Research and Education Act. I’m proud to work with Congresswoman [Yvette] Clarke to ensure that women get the care, support, and knowledge they need.”

The Gap in Fibroid Research  Funding fibroid research to narrow the Black woman's healthcare gap

Here’s the problem. Up to 80% of women develop fibroids before they turn 50. In fact, 26 million women between the ages of 15 and 50 have uterine fibroids now. And more than 15 million have painful fibroid symptoms.

But we still don’t know why. Further complicating the problem? Black women develop fibroids more frequently. But they face a healthcare gap. Doctors often discount or downplay their pain and symptoms. Which is why part of the bill includes funding for community fibroid education.

Recently, Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly shared her thoughts on the bill’s importance. She said, “Health education is an empowerment tool for women to ensure that they can make informed health decisions that lead to a better life, physically, mentally, and emotionally. If women have more information, they can make better decisions about their own health.”

That’s even more important since fibroids look different in every woman. But common symptoms include pelvic pain and long, heavy periods. You may have constipation and/or frequent urination. Bloating and painful intercourse are also signs of fibroids. In some cases, you may go years without  experiencing symptoms. Other times, your fibroids cause trouble immediately.

Again, it’s not clear why some women’s fibroids stay small. But other women’s growths disrupt their lives. And, as we know, when fibroid pain is severe, it can throw women’s lives off track. Going to school or work can become increasingly difficult. Which is something we all want to change.

Finding a Way Forward

Representative Clarke says, “This bill is an important first step towards making women’s healthcare a priority. Many women who suffer from uterine fibroids have their condition go undiagnosed as a result of a lack of education about the disease. Each year, approximately 7 million women in the U.S. suffer the symptoms of fibroids … This disease has ravaged the lives of women across the country, and increasing funding for research and public education related to fibroids is critical to reversing that trend. If we are serious about fixing inequities in our healthcare system, then we must treat uterine fibroids with the funding and attention it deserves.”

What’s Included in Senator Harris’ Fibroid Bill Houston Fibroids Specialists support the fibroid bill

To that end, the new bill asks to give the National Institutes of Health (NIH) $30 million each year, for the next five years. The purpose?  To expand uterine fibroids research, create a uterine fibroids public education program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to expand and improve data collection on which groups are affected by uterine fibroids, among other aims.

It directs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to prove information on available services for women who experience fibroid symptoms.

Finally, the bills asks the Health Resources and Service Administration to arm health care providers with  fibroid information. These materials should highlight that women of color have elevated fibroid risks. And should include information on all available treatment options, including minimally invasive protocols like UFE.

The bill is supported by the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the National Association of Nurse Practitioners, the Fibroid Foundation, and many other organizations.

Strong Support for Fibroid Education

While the bill has many supporters, one key group of backers is The White Dress Project. We’ve talked about this organization quite a bit on the blog, because its goals align with our own: to help women understand all their treatment options.

Recently, Dr. John C Lipman of the Free from Fibroids Foundation spoke about the need to pass this bill. He sees this education bill as the only way to stop the numerous, avoidable, hysterectomies for fibroids. He says, “One aggressive driver of the excessive number of unnecessary hysterectomies for uterine fibroids is the significant resources and influence that the pharmaceutical and surgical device manufacturers have on physicians and hospitals to perpetuate this “status quo” of hysterectomy.”

This push is even worse, he says, because “I see patients every day who are suffering from fibroids and don’t want a hysterectomy. They simply want their life back. Hysterectomies take away a woman’s ability to bear children, but also do more to a woman’s body after the surgical wounds heal.

It’s time to challenge the outdated practice of performing life-changing, unnecessary hysterectomy without first considering much safer, less expensive, and less invasive non-surgical options like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).”

For those reasons, Dr. Lipman says, “Congress has an opportunity to help in this fight against fibroids and unnecessary hysterectomies and take an important step toward empowering and supporting women by passing the bipartisan Stephanie Tubbs Jones Uterine Fibroid Research and Education Act of 2021 (S. 2444/H.R. 2007). This overdue legislation will provide research to try to find out where fibroids come from and how to prevent them and best treat them.”

Houston Fibroid Treatment Options

Today, we join in that call. And we thank Vice President Harris, Representative Clarke and all the women and organizations who advance fibroid awareness. Now, we invite you to explore all your fibroid treatment options before settling on an invasive surgery like a hysterectomy. And schedule an appointment with our Houston area fibroid specialists to see if you’re a candidate for UFE.

Sources: Yahoo!Life, Refinery 29

#WCW: Greenleaf Star learns 4 Ways Fibroids Can Impact Pregnancy

If you have fibroids, you may worry about future pregnancy. Uterine fibroids aren’t usually cancerous, which is good news. But they grow in your womb, and they’re very common during your reproductive years. Fibroids develop as single tumors or as multiple growths. Depending on the type, size, and number of fibroids you have, they could affect your pregnancy.

Recently, Greenleaf star Deborah Joy Winans announced her pregnancy after a fibroids journey. Just a year before announcing her pregnancy, Winans’ doctors discovered she had eight large fibroids. While she was considering her treatment options, she also learned she was pregnant.

Right away, she learned this could be a problem. Winans told Essence magazine, “When [the doctor] started to tell me the things that will happen in my body because of the fibroids and the things that the baby might face, I just was like, ‘Okay, this is really, really serious. ”

Just months later, Winans wound up in the ER with terrible pain and vomiting. There, she learned that degenerating fibroids were responsible for her misery. Next, she needed a surgical procedure to close her cervix, which was opening too soon. Following that procedure, bed rest was in order. So, today she says she’s simply hoping to carry her baby closer to her due date. “As long as I can get to 28 [weeks]… [my doctor] knows that [the baby will] be good and healthy if he came that early. So, 28 is the goal.”

Of course, delivering her baby isn’t ideal. But pre-term labor isn’t the only way fibroids affect pregnancy. In fact, studies suggest, they could also impact your health in ways that don’t involve your growing fetus.

Continue reading “#WCW: Greenleaf Star learns 4 Ways Fibroids Can Impact Pregnancy”

Why Black Women Get Fibroids

Black women get fibroids more than any other women on the planet. And, did you know that African American women have some of the worst fibroid experiences? These are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around your uterus.

Fibroids are composed of muscle tissue. You can develop one or many fibroids. They may be small or large. And, while some women don’t even know they have fibroids, others experience symptoms that significantly interfere with their lives. These include heavy periods, pelvic pain,  frequent urination and/or constipation, and pain during sex.

Why Do Black Women get Fibroids More Often?

We still don’t know why some women develop fibroids, while others don’t. But we do know that Black and African women develop fibroids three times more often than white women. That’s why our own Dr. Eric Hardee is spreading the word about why black women have an increased fibroid risk.

Sadly, the bad news doesn’t end there. Because, when they do develop, those fibroids are likely to be large and symptomatic.

Tanika Gray Valbrun, founder of The White Dress Project, is one of those women. She was 23 when she received a fibroid diagnosis, but she’d already had years of pain. Today, at 42, she continues to fight for fibroid awareness. She wants the world to take this health challenge seriously, pointing out that the WHO (World Health Organization) doesn’t even share fibroid information on its website.

This is a shocking discrepancy since the site offers extensive information on other conditions affecting women, including infertility.

Valbrun recently told CNN, “I just don’t understand it, like, if so many Black women have fibroids, why aren’t more people talking about it? Why aren’t there so many walks and campaigns like there are for other medical conditions?” she said.

Additional Challenges

Lack of awareness is a problem for many black women who get fibroids. But so is the period stigma that’s still prevalent in many African cultures.

That’s something Ghanain Nana Konamah is working to change. In 2019, she and friend Jessica Nabongo made a documentary to help women understand how fibroids can impact so many aspects of women’s lives. At the same time, she’s trying to eliminate period stigma so that women speak up about symptoms and get diagnosed.

Early diagnosis is crucial. And it’s equally important to understand your fibroid treatment options! Because, according to the most recent CDC data, 33 percent of Black women ages 48-50 had a hysterectomy. In contrast, only 3 percent of white women in that age group removed their uterus. And when it comes to younger women? The gaps are even more startling.  Among women ages 33-45, 12 percent of Black women had a hysterectomy. And white women? Only 4 percent in that age group chose this invasive surgery. That’s a major problem. We need to do better and help spread more fibroid knowledge, so all women know their fibroid treatment options.

Increased Risk and Delayed Treatment

Uterine-Fibroid-Treatment-for-African-American-Women in Houston We don’t know the exact scientific evidence reason why African American women are more likely to develop uterine fibroids. Still, there are a number of theories.

First, because African American girls are more likely to start their period at a younger age, one such theory is that fact makes them more susceptible to fibroid development later in life. It could also explain why black women develop fibroids at a younger age than women of other races. Daughters are also three times as likely to have fibroids if their mother experienced them, which just completes this vicious circle.

Recently, the Black Women’s Health Study offered another theory. One interesting new idea was that black women’s increased fibroid risk was linked to childhood trauma. Something that is devastating for us to learn.

And here’s the worse news. More African American women have fibroids, and severe fibroid symptoms, they don’t get help quickly. In fact, studies show that  African American women reported taking an average of four years to seek fibroid treatment

How to Treat Uterine Fibroids

Unfortunately, African American women are not only three times more likely to develop uterine fibroids but they are also more likely to have larger and more densely populated fibroid tumors, so the treatment options can be different. While African American women diagnosed with fibroids are twice as likely to have a hysterectomy as Caucasian women, it’s important that those diagnosed with uterine fibroids are given comprehensive treatment options.

  • Non-invasive: include watchful waiting if you don’t experience symptoms, hormone treatments that may treat some symptoms, or an ultrasound procedure.
  • Less invasive: include uterine fibroid embolization, or endometrial ablation, which removes the lining of the uterine.
  • Surgical: include a myomectomy in which the fibroids are surgically removed, or a hysterectomy where the entire uterus is removed. The more invasive a surgery, the more room there is for complications.

Talk to your gynecologist and our fibroid specialists about the symptoms you’re experiencing to help decide on your best approach to treatment.

Sources: CNN, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Black Women’s Health Imperatives, Black Women’s Health Study, CDC, Well + Good

Dr. Hardee Explains Black Women’s Risk of Fibroids On Black Enterprise

Black women have a 2.5 greater relative risk of developing fibroids compared to white women. In an article on the Black Enterprise, Houston Fibroids’ Dr. Eric Hardee explains why black women are more likely to have uterine fibroids and what they should know about treatment options.

screenshot of Dr. Hardee's feature in Black Enterprise

Read the full article to discover the factors that play into the likelihood of Black women developing uterine fibroids. 

Know Your 6 Fibroid Treatment Options

If you have uterine fibroids, it’s important to know your fibroid treatment options. Until recently, most women didn’t hear about choices. Instead, they were given hysterectomy or other surgeries to treat fibroids and other causes of pelvic pain. But now we know there are better alternatives to a hysterectomy. Which is why we want women  to know all their fibroid treatment options.

Continue reading “Know Your 6 Fibroid Treatment Options”

Houston Fibroids Featured in August Issue of First For Women

Houston Fibroids was recently featured in the August issue of First For Women where Dr. Hardee’s patient, Yolanda Rhodes, speaks to how she was able to “get her life back” after having severe complications resulting from uterine fibroids. Check out this article which talks about Yolanda’s personal story, how a simple outpatient procedure healed her physical and emotional pain, and how other African American women can learn from her experience.

Dr. Eric Hardee of Houston Fibroids

 

 

#WCW: Black Women and Fibroids, a Constant Fight

Black women and fibroids just seem to go together. About 80% of all black women develop fibroids by the time they hit their 50s. In comparison, only 70% of white women will get these tumors in their lifetime. And it happens sooner too: almost 25% of black women aged 18-30 30 have fibroids. In comparison, just 6% of white women that age have them. Black women are also two to three times more likely to have recurring fibroids or suffer from complications. This means that the rate of fibroid development is much higher among black women, but that’s not the only concern.

Black women are far more likely to end up in the hospital because of fibroid complications. Which is why many women impacted by these benign tumors are taking steps to raise fibroid awareness. Another motivating reason? They want to help other black women gain the information needed to receive high-quality fibroid care, that doesn’t always involve a hysterectomy. Because black women are also at least twice as likely as white women to get a hysterectomy due to fibroids, even when they’re still of childbearing age.

Now, those missions line up perfectly with our own. So, today, we salute two of the women crusading for black women with fibroids as our Women Crushes of the Week. black women and fibroids

For Black Women and Fibroids: the Fibroid Pandemic

When LaToya. Dwight was diagnosed with fibroids, her doctors offered a hysterectomy. But, as she explained in a recent interview, “I did not know what fibroids were, and was not given any resources… That did not sit well with me and made me do my research.”

Thankfully, that research led her to lifestyle changes, and a less invasive treatment option. Following her decision, she said, “I realized that a lot of women do not know where to turn because they are typically given the recommendation of having a hysterectomy. And while there is nothing wrong with having one, statistically, 60% of hysterectomies are not needed.” To help fill that information gap, she started the Fibroid Pandemic platform.

Among other resources, Dwight shares information that will help Black women address fibroid symptoms holistically. Specifically, she helps target factors that may be responsible for Black women’s increased fibroid risks. One key lifestyle change she advocates? Changing cosmetics brands. Especially hair care products, since many products marketed for black hair care contain strong chemicals that have been linked to increased fibroid risk. This is very important information, as are the tips our next #WCW shares through her platforms.

Meet The Black Woman “Fibroid Queen”

Registered nurse and fitness trainer Phyllis Frempong expressed concern about Black women’s healthcare equality: “Black women are last when learning the information needed to maximize our options. In the medical system, it has been this way for a long time. It has been set up for us to be at a disadvantage; therefore, we are required to educate and empower ourselves to stay abreast of what is going on.”

She uses her Instagram platform to advocate fibroid fighting fitness routines. As we know, maintaining a healthy weight can help minimize fibroid symptoms and growth, likely because carrying extra pounds can mess with your hormones.

Still, Ms. Frempong knows that talking fibroids isn’t easy. She says, “I grew up in an African household, so talking about medical issues was not encouraged. I remember my mom coming home really drained and tired, and asking her what happened. After initially dismissing me, she later said that her doctor informed her that she would need to get her uterus taken out. I asked why and she said that was fibroids. I did not quite know what fibroids were, I just remembered the name. So, years later, while in nursing school, I asked the doctor for an ultrasound and was questioned. When in a situation like this, always go with your instincts. Something told me to request it, and after finding a quarter-sized fibroid on my uterus, I was told to just monitor it.”

The Growth Cycle Continues Exercise can help black women and fibroids

She did just that, but she developed more fibroids, like so many black women with fibroids. And they grew large. Frempong says she felt like a failure, because she’d waited around for things to get worse. All without knowing steps that could help stop her fibroids’ progression.

Today, she’s protecting other women from the same experience. She says, “I used what I learned as a nurse and fitness coach and created a lifestyle regiment to not only reduce my symptoms but shrink my fibroids. I realized that if I could do that, then I could help others. So now, my mission is to help millions of women end their suffering with holistic resources and a community of like-minded women to live their lives beyond fibroids.”

Minimally Invasive Fibroid Treatment

In our Houston area fibroid practice, we also work hard to share information about treatment options. We want women to know that hysterectomy isn’t always the answer. That’s part of why we share women’s fibroid stories. And it’s why we always offer patient education regarding Uterine Fibroid Embolization, or UFE, a non-surgical fibroid treatment.

We also know that UFE isn’t for everyone. And that’s ok. Our only goal is to make sure all women know that they have choices. So, if you want to explore minimally invasive fibroid treatments, we are here to help. Check out our guidelines to see if you’re a UFE candidate. And feel free to schedule an in-office or Telemedicine consultation with our team of specialists.

Sources: Healthy Woman, Chicago Defender

Dr. Hardee on Differences in Endometriosis, Uterine Fibroids and Adenomyosis

Those who have been diagnosed with endometriosis or uterine fibroids may actually be suffering from adenomyosis. Learn more about this condition, and why it’s hard to diagnose, from our very own Dr. Eric Hardee on FOX 26 Houston:

Read the full article:

 

fox 26

 

If you have any further questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment with Houston Fibroids, please call (713) 575-3686 or request an appointment online today.

 

 

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