Mayor Sylvester Turner has designated the month of July as Uterine Fibroids Awareness Month to educate local women about uterine fibroids and the many treatment options available.
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:
Please take a moment to listen to these patient stories from Kandi Eastman about her experience in finding the right treatment method for her uterine fibroids at our office in Houston, TX. Watch the videos and schedule your appointment today.
Patient Video 1: What To Do If Your OBGYN Says Hysterectomy Is Your Only Option For Fibroid Treatment
Listen to Kandi’s story about uterine fibroid treatment at our office in Houston, TX.
Patient Video 2: Fibroid Treatment Options
Listen to Dr. Hardee and Kandi discuss the various treatment options for fibroids at our office in Houston, TX.
Patient Video 3: Suffering from Fibroids?
Listen as Kandi shares her experience with treating uterine fibroids- and learns that a hysterectomy is not her only option.
To learn more about Kandi’s story or the treatment options we provide for uterine fibroids at our office in Houston, TX, call (713) 575-3686 to schedule your appointment today.
Houston Fibroids’ Dr. Eric Hardee and Dr. William Fox were featured in an article by The Katy News discussing uterine fibroids and the various treatment options they provide for this condition. According to these uterine fibroid specialists, ” A Hysterectomy isn’t the only option [for treating uterine fibroids]…there are other non-surgical treatment options.”
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
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
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.
So, today, we thank Senator Harris, Representative Clarke and all the women and organizations who advance fibroid awareness. And we invite you to explore all your fibroid treatment options before settling on an invasive surgery like a hysterectomy.
Dr. Hardee Shares His Insight in Hysterectomy Alternatives
Houston Fibroids’s Dr. Eric Hardee was featured with patient Yolanda Rhodes in The Hype Magazine Live Sessions discussing uterine fibroids and treatment alternatives to a hysterectomy.
In this podcast, you’ll hear about Houston nurse Yolanda Rhodes’ experience. After suffering a prolapsed uterus due to uterine fibroids and facing potential hysterectomy, Yolanda was directed by her OB/GYN to get a second opinion. Houston-based interventional radiologists Eric Hardee MD and William Fox MD—who pioneered a revolutionary outpatient treatment known as Trans-Radial Uterine Fibroid Embolization, or UFE— found that Yolanda was an excellent candidate for UFE and didn’t need a hysterectomy at all.
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. And, studies suggest, they could also impact your health in ways that don’t involve your growing fetus.
After giving birth, some women hemorrhage and doctors need to stop the postpartum bleeding. And quickly, or the new mother could die. Often, doctors perform emergency hysterectomies, saving the mother’s lives but costing them future futility. Thankfully, now, a new study suggests a better alternative: UAE (Uterine Artery Embolization.)
What is UAE?
UAE is also called UFE—uterine fibroid embolization—because we use this procedure to treat fibroids. During UAE, we use a slender, flexible tube (catheter) to inject small particles into your uterine arteries, stopping the flow of blood. If you have fibroids, this starves the tumors of their blood supply, and they shrink and die. But if you have postpartum bleeding, it can stop uterine hemorrhaging, and may prevent the need for hysterectomy (removal of the uterus.)
Can UAE Stop Postpartum Bleeding?
A new study from Emory University’s School of medicine suggests it can! Led by Dr. Janice Newsome, researchers learned that, right now, women with postpartum bleeding are 60% more likely to get a hysterectomy than UAE. And that’s a problem, because “UAE is safer and has an easier recovery than hysterectomy,” she said at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s virtual annual meeting.
She also noted that postpartum bleeding is common. Each year, about 100,000 women in this country develop this condition. And postpartum bleeding is still the leading cause of global maternal mortality.
Currently, most women are treated with a blood transfusion. But the second most common way to stop postpartum bleeding is to give women a hysterectomy.
UAE vs Hysterectomy After Delivery
Here are the stats according to Dr. Newsome’s team. For every 1000 women with postpartum bleeding, 116 received transfusions. About 20 of those women received hysterectomies, while only 13 women were treated with UAE.
While a hysterectomy can stop postpartum bleeding, it also comes with serious, permanent side effects—plus instant loss of fertility for these new moms. Plus, after hysterectomy, moms were twice as likely to face long hospital stays. (Not to mention hefty hospital bills!)
Even more worrying? Hispanic women in particular were more likely to receive a hysterectomy. As were women in rural communities. Or those who were Medicaid patients.
In response to these findings, Dr. Newsome suggested adding an interventional radiologist to the hospital maternal medicine team. She hopes that will help reduce the rate of hysterectomy for postpartum bleeding going forward.
Choosing UAE in Houston
Are you looking for fibroid relief? And hoping to keep your uterus and avoid hysterectomy? We’re here today! Reach out to our team today and schedule a consultation. We can help you decide if you’re a good candidate for UFE!
You can treat non-cancerous uterine tumors, but often, these fibroids return. And that’s a big problem for many women, because fibroids are very common. In fact, about 80% of all women 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! And that’s why, this week, we’ve named Bette the African penguin as our Woman Crush of the Week!
When Fibroids Return for Animals
This week, we’re honoring Bette, an 18-inch African penguin living at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA. A few years back, she had to have surgery to remove a mass from her abdomen. At that time, doctors also removed 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 took about 10 days, at which point Bette returned to her long time penguin mate, Sidney, and their babies, Sunshine and D.J.
Treating Fibroids in Houston
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!
But that’s not all. Even if you choose myomectomy, a surgery that, like Bette’s, removes individual tumors, the fibroids return after treatment quite frequently. Plus, you still have to face general anesthesia, as well as a hospital stay and an extended recovery. And, during that time, you will likely miss work and other regular activities.
So, that’s the bad news. But here’s the good news. Unlike penguins, humans with fibroids have access to non-surgical fibroid treatment options. Minimally invasive fibroid treatments like embolization make for quicker recovery times with less complications down the road. And, while some women’s fibroids return after UFE, the revision rates are the same or slightly better than with myomectomy. In other words, whether you have surgery or UFE, your risk of fibroid return is the same. Making the non-surgical option very attractive, as long as you’re a good candidate for UFE.
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! We’re here to help you avoid surgery when possible. In that way, even if your fibroids return, you won’t be faced with a second surgery and increased risk for complications.
Sources: European Radiology Journal
As interventional radiologists, we always want patients to consider every fibroid treatment option. And, we want women to find the least-invasive treatment that will provide them with symptom relief. That’s why we’re honoring our Woman Crush pick, Love + Hip Hop Miami Star Shay Johnson for sharing her fibroid story. And it’s why we are so excited about the results of a new, 10 year EMMY study. Its findings reveal that Uterine Fibroid Embolization provides similar symptom relief to hysterectomy!
Women with Fibroid Symptoms Find Relief
When Shay Johnson got her fibroids diagnosis, tumors were growing on her ovaries. She has said that her fibroids gave her blood clots that were “larger than the palm of her hand.” She also developed anemia, and fainted several times. Eventually, Johnson chose myomectomy: surgery to remove her fibroids.
But she wants every woman to find her best treatment option. Because, she told USA Fibroid Centers, “Experiencing fibroids was the most painful, depressing experience ever. “I went through it for a reason. It’s time we have more conversations around fibroid disease.”
Naturally, we think that conversation should involve real facts about the effects of UFE vs Hysterectomy. Luckily, we have that kind of evidence thanks to the EMMY study we mentioned earlier.
The study followed women who treated fibroids that caused heavy menstrual bleeding. Researchers compared two groups: those who’d had UFE and those who’d had hysterectomy. Women in both groups reported on their clinical results and on improvements in their overall quality of life.
Here’s the great news: after 10 years, two thirds of UFE patients didn’t need hysterectomies. That’s because their symptoms had resolved. Around 35% of the women did go on to have a hysterectomy, but the rest found relief without radical surgery. And, even within the hysterectomy group, 17% of women required follow-up surgical procedures.
Jim Reekers, lead researcher, says: “After 10-years of follow-up, about two thirds of patients with symptomatic uterine fibroids, who undergo treatment with embolization can avoid a hysterectomy.”
He went on to state that after 10 years, women in both the UFE and hysterectomy groups had similar quality of life results. In conclusion, he said, “Uterine artery embolization is a well-documented and good alternative to hysterectomy for symptomatic uterine fibroids, on which all eligible patients should be counselled.”
History of Uterine Artery Embolization
Uterine artery embolization, or uterine fibroid embolization, has been a viable fibroid treatment option since 1995. So why aren’t more women opting for this less invasive procedure? The sad answer is: many women don’t even know it’s an option.
As Reekers told Interventional News: “Not informing patients about uterine fibroid embolization, when these 10-year data are available, is unethical. Uterine fibroid embolization is an interventional radiology procedure that has level one evidence to back its use. In this trial, we treated the worst end-stage scenario without any reintervention, so real world outcomes for embolization will be even better.”
UFE vs. Hysterectomy: Equal Results, Traumatic Differences
In conclusion, study authors found that UFE is a very effective fibroid treatment option. In fact, it was just as effective as hysterectomy. As the study authors reported, ““After 10 years, generic health-related quality of life remained stable, without differences between both groups. The urogenital distress inventory and the defecation distress inventory showed a decrease in both groups, without significant differences between study arms, but with a trend towards better outcome for uterine artery embolization.”
But, there is one big difference between the two treatment options. UFE’s recovery time is, typically, a few days. The aftermath of a hysterectomy can be felt for months, and even years, following the procedure. Given that fact, doctors owe it to their patients to share UFE information. And if your doctor isn’t telling you about this treatment option, come into our Houston area offices to learn more.