Category: Treatment Options

What is Adenomyosis and Why is it so Hard to Diagnose?

So many women know that they can develop fibroids and endometriosis. They also know that both those conditions can be extremely painful. But what they don’t know is that adenomyosis can be equally painful. And it can be hard to diagnose, even though it affects up to 30% of women around the world. Let’s take a closer look at this uterine condition.

What is Adenomyosis? question mark

When you have adenomyosis, the tissue that lines your uterus accumulates inside its muscular wall. Adenomyosis is a benign condition (that means it’s not cancer). But you still have to worry about troubling side effects. And the number one offender with this condition? Debilitating pain.

Adenomyosis is pretty common. An estimated 10% of women live with this condition. And women over the age of 40, especially ones who’ve had uterine surgery or multiple pregnancies, are more at risk. At least, that’s what research suggests. It’s tough to determine the exact prevalence of adenomyosis. That’s because there’s no standard diagnostic criteria (doctors don’t have a clear set of signs, symptoms, and tests to guide adenomyosis care.) Which is the reason this condition is hard to diagnose. And the reason you need to learn more about adenomyosis.

Identifying Adenomyosis Symptoms

When you have adenomyosis, you may experience symptoms such as severe cramps, irregular bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, pain in your legs and back, a swollen abdomen, long periods, painful sex and infertility.

Houston Fibroids Bellaire
Discussing your full reproductive history with your healthcare providers can help you receive a diagnosis of adenomyosis.

But many uterine conditions—including endometriosis and fibroids—present with the same symptoms. And that is why adenomyosis is often confused for other conditions. This makes it much harder for you to seek appropriate treatment and find relief.

But that’s not the only reason it can be tough to diagnose adenomyosis: you can’t always detect trouble with an ultrasound. Even an MRI might not reveal abnormal tissue in your uterine muscle, especially if you also have fibroids, since they may block the imaging view.

For that reason, if you are dealing with adenomyosis symptoms and you haven’t received an accurate diagnosis, it is important to see an expert who can help.

How Can We Diagnose Adenomyosis?

Sometimes, diagnosing adenomyosis is a process of elimination. But there are many clues to point your doctor in the right direction. First, consider your age: this condition is more common with women in their 30s and 40s. You are also more likely to develop adenomyosis if you’ve delivered a child via cesarean section, or if you have endometriosis and/or fibroids. Given those connections, it’s important to discuss your complete reproductive history with your health care provider if you’re trying to receive an accurate diagnosis.

Treating Adenomyosis

Once you have a diagnosis, treating your condition is a personal choice. If your symptoms are minimal, you may opt to manage pain with non-prescription drugs like Advil or Motrin. Many women can find relief by increasing their exercise levels, or even by choosing to get fitted for a hormonal IUD (intrauterine device.)

But some women need more permanent treatment. And that is where our Houston fibroid specialists can help. Some women can find relief from adenomyosis with uterine artery embolization (UAE), a minimally invasive procedure that uses a catheter to deliver small particles that block the blood supply to your uterine. To learn more about UAE and your adenomyosis treatment options, schedule a consultation with Dr. Fox or Dr. Hardee today.

 

Sources: Seminars in Interventional Radiology, MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center

4 Simple Reasons to Avoid a Hysterectomy

If you are As many as 70% of women will develop uterine fibroids in their lifetime. And they’ll likely experience symptoms such as heavy bleeding and pelvic pain or pressure. When fibroid symptoms are painful and disruptive, you want relief. Just be sure to choose a treatment that won’t cause you more problems down the road. 

Why is Hysterectomy a Challenging Fibroid Treatment? 

Hysterectomy alternativesMany women with fibroids consider hysterectomy. In fact, about 600,000 American women get hysterectomies each year. But, many times, a less drastic procedure could have worked instead. Check out these reasons why you shouldn’t have a hysterectomy. 

 

  • You want a baby in the future. A hysterectomy is not an option for women if they would like to have a baby. If you are young and have fibroids,consider alternatives. Even if you don’t want kids now,  really think about your options. After all, a hysterectomy is forever. 
  • You can’t afford to take time off. Traditional hysterectomies take approximately six weeks to recover, while minimally invasive procedures can take about two weeks. For women who are busy with school, work, or raising a family, this time off may severely impact their lives. Even after recovery, it may be even longer before the patient can return to a completely active lifestyle.
  • You have not yet reached menopause. When you lose your ovaries as part of a hysterectomy, your hormonal balance gets disrupted. This makes your estrogen and progesterone production decline. These two hormones play an important part in heart, bone, breast, and brain health. Even when an ovary-sparing hysterectomy is performed, the patient is more likely to develop premature ovarian function failure.
  • You wish to avoid the risks of surgery. Infections affect approximately 9 to 13 percent of those who undergo a hysterectomy. There is also a risk of damaging surrounding organs, nerve damage, hemorrhage, and anesthetic complications.

Consider Uterine Fibroid Embolization

Uterine fibroid embolization is completed through local anesthesia and is significantly less invasive than a surgery and patients can return to their daily lives much faster than those who have undergone a hysterectomy. In addition, studies show that approximately 90 percent of women who underwent UFE had significant or complete relief from the symptoms of uterine fibroids.

If you would like to see if UFE is right for you, contact Houston Fibroids.

Sources: National Women’s Health Network

Warning: Fibroid Meds Linked to Liver Damage

Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in and on your uterus. They often give you symptoms such as heavy periods, pelvic pain and more. In order to alleviate those symptoms, you’ll need to treat your fibroids. But, for some women, choosing the wrong treatment could mean even more medical problems!

The Danger of Fibroid Medications

 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has advised that women taking Esmya, a fibroid medication, may experience liver injury from the drug. In order to prevent this complication, the EMA has implemented a series of precautions for doctors to review before prescribing Esmya as a fibroid treatment. 

When working properly, Esmya is supposed to reduce the bleeding and anemia associated with uterine fibroids. Unfortunately, some women taking Esmya have suffered liver injuries. In response, the EMA now recommends that all patients should have liver screenings before and after taking the drug. You should never take Esmya if you’ve had liver problems. Even for healthy women, Esmya isn’t a great choice: in fact,  according to the EMA, you should only take this drug if you don’t have other options.  

Embolization: A Less Complex Fibroid Treatment

Sadly, many women are not aware of UFE, a minimally invasive fibroid treatment with many fewer potential complications. Women who are eligible for UFE can expect a one hour, outpatient procedure that’s minimally invasive.  In fact, most women stand up and walk around right after UFE, because we conduct the procedure through an artery in your arm. Best of all, UFE is a permanent fibroid solution, but it doesn’t affect any other body part. And that’s because we deliver treatment directly to your uterine growths.

If you have been prescribed medications to help manage your uterine fibroid growths, you must explore all of your potential treatment options. Contact our Houston Fibroids practice to see if UFE can help you avoid the potential complications of fibroid medications. 

Check Out This Crucial Women’s Health Revelation

When it comes to fibroid symptoms like heavy bleeding, different doctors offer different treatments. Unfortunately,  hysterectomy (the complete removal of a woman’s uterus) is a top suggestion. Since 1995, fibroid doctors like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee offer embolization. This is a process that cuts off fibroids’ blood flow, shrinking them without invasive surgery. 

Now, we want to help spread the word about non-invasive treatments. That’s because they can make a major impact on your long-term well-being! In fact, science now confirms that women have better long-term outcomes with embolization! 

Why Hysterectomy isn’t Always The Fibroid Answer

A 10-year Dutch study followed 156 women after their uterine fibroid treatments. All of the women had symptoms that could have been treated with hysterectomies. But 81 were treated with embolization and 75 had hysterectomies. Ten years later, the women reported their quality of life. And only 28 embolization patients still needed a hysterectomy! Plus, the  53 women who avoided hysterectomies were just as symptom-free as the 75 women who had hysterectomies right away. In short, the results prove that hysterectomies shouldn’t 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.” 

What’s Involved in UAE and UFE?

Uterine fibroid embolization (or uterine artery embolization)is minimally invasive. Interventional Radiologists, doctors trained to provide minimally invasive procedures, perform this procedure. Before treatment, you’ll undergo testing. If you’re a candidate, your entire procedure lasts less than one hour. Better yet, it’s  performed as outpatient therapy. You’ll likely stay no longer than 23 hours after your procedure.

And what happens in the procedure? UFE begins with a tiny incision in your femoral artery. This gives allows us to pass a small tube into your femoral artery, so we can access the uterine artery. Using special X-ray equipment, we then guides the catheter to your fibroid. Next, your IR injects embolic material (small spheres) through the catheter.  

This embolic material blocks vessels around the fibroid. Then, the tumor shrinks without the blood and oxygen it needs to grow. And the material stays in your vessels permanently, so the fibroid doesn’t return. 

Next, we move the catheter to the other side of your uterus, usually using the same incision. And, after we embolize both sides of the uterine artery, we gently remove your catheter and place finger pressure over the small incision in your thigh. After a few minutes, we’ll likely close the incision.

After the procedure, you may experience some discomfort such as abdominal cramping or pain. You may need some medication. But our skilled nurses will help you with post-procedure care. We’ll also schedule your post procedure follow up appointments.That way, you’ll come in at the optimal time. 

Find Out More

Many women with fibroids can clearly avoid hysterectomy. And embolization can still delay surgery and menopause, even for women who eventually require one. When it comes to your health, knowledge is power. Before undergoing a life-altering hysterectomy, or any invasive fibroid treatment, schedule a consultation with our office team. We are happy to discuss your eligibility for UFE. 

Sources: Parent’s Africa Magazine, CVIR Endovascular Journal

Here’s What You need to Know about Adenomyosis?

Adenomyosis is a condition that causes many symptoms—like pelvic pain and heavy bleeding—that mimic fibroid symptoms. This condition is the result of endometrial cells (from the uterine inner lining) that migrate into the middle, muscular wall of the uterus, the myometrium, where they stay put. The newly lodged cells then increase the mass of your uterus. 

What Causes Adenomyosis?

Unfortunately, we still don’t understand the exact cause of this condition, although different the

pain from uterine fibroids

ories exist. One suggests that it’s caused by genetic changes in endometrial cells. Another proposes that, in fact, cells inside your myometrium actually convert into endometrial cells. We also believe that hormones like estrogen trigger the condition since its symptoms go away after menopause. Female levels of estrogen go down in the first year after menopause and the symptoms dissipate as well.

How is Adenomyosis Diagnosed?

This condition is sometimes diagnosed with an ultrasound scan, but it can be difficult to spot lodged cells, so an MRI is often needed for confirmation. Often, adenomyosis is detected while your doctor is screening for fibroid tumors.   

What Are the Symptoms of Adenomyosis?

While a good portion of women—as many as 30%–won’t experience any symptoms, women with adenomyosis typically experience:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Intense pelvic pain and pressure
  • Cramping
  • Pain that radiates to your legs and back
  • Distended stomach
  • Blood clots in the pelvis and legs
  • Prolonged menstrual cycles
  • Spotting between cycles

    There’s one more important symptom you need to know about: adenomyosis can impact your fertility. This is especially true if you’re attempting to get pregnant through IVF (In-vitro fertilization.) That’s because adenomyosis can interfere with embryo implantation. And, if you do become pregnant, it can also increase your risk of miscarrying. 

How do we treat Adenomyosis?

The only way to cure this condition is to undergo a hysterectomy. For many women, this will be too drastic an option—especially since we now know that hysterectomies leave women at risk for cardiac and metabolic problems.

So, while we can’t stop the problem without removing your uterus, we can help manage symptoms with less invasive treatment options. The best option for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms and your overall health:

  1. Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can help with the pain and reduce the blood flow. For best results, start taking medication several days prior to the start of your cycle.
  2. Taking birth control pills and other hormonal supplements can help manage the condition.
  3. Endometrial Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that destroys the uterine lining, so no cells can migrate into the muscle wall. The success of this option will depend on how deeply endometrial tissue has penetrated into the wall of your uterus.
  4. UAE or Uterine Artery Embolization. We use this technique commonly used to treat uterine fibroids, but it can help adenomyosis, too. Here, we inject particles into the uterine artery, blocking blood flow to the problem area. We do this to deprive your tissue of blood and oxygen, helping stop adenomyosis’ progression. But, unlike UFE for fibroid treatments, when you have UAE for adenomyosis, you have to spend the night in the hospital. As we evolve our technique, UAE has earned an 80% effectiveness rating in abating the symptoms of adenomyosis, making it an excellent short term solution to this painful condition. 

Sources: Journal of Clinical and Experimental Reproductive Medicine

#WCW: Kelly McCreary Opens Up About Her Fibroids

Kelly McCreary—aka Maggie Pierce on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy—may play a doctor on TV, but when it came to her own health challenges, she couldn’t tidily wrap up her own diagnosis in a 60-minute time frame. In fact, figuring out the cause of her long, painful periods was a major process. And it’s one that she opened up about recently at the #BlogHer20 Health Summit in L.A. Which is one (of many) reasons why Kelly is our Woman Crush Wednesday this week.

Facing Facts: Painful Periods aren’t Normal Periods

Before joining a panel at the health summit, Kelly shared her fibroid journey with HollywoodLife.com. As a teenager, she has very painful periods. But then, in her 20s, things got better. Next came her 30s, and each year meant more period pain. Finally, about five years ago, it all became too much, so she went to her doctor. That’s where she discovered her fibroids.

Kelly explained, ““[My] doctor in New York diagnosed them. She said, ‘These are not a big deal. They’re very small. They’re in a place that’s easy to remove.” But Kelly didn’t schedule a myomectomy (surgical fibroid removal). And soon, she moved to Los Angeles—and a new doctor.

This doctor had entirely different advice. Her new doctor said, “Surgery’s a big deal. You don’t want to have any surgery, even if it’s a minor surgery, unless you absolutely have to. Instead, go on an IUD. The hormones and the IUD will treat the symptoms of your fibroids and maybe it’ll prevent them from growing.”

As interventional radiologists who provide minimally invasive fibroid treatments, we love much of this advice. But it’s unfortunate no one talked about Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) with Kelly. Because the IUD approach didn’t work for her. And, instead of exploring other options, Kelly switched up her thinking. She explained to her summit audience:  “The fundamental belief that I absorbed was that periods are painful and uncomfortable and that’s normal. So, I was willing to endure, frankly, a lot of discomfort.”

Pelvic Pain isn’t Normal: A Fibroid Intervention

Things only got worse for Kelly once she got an IUD. “[It] was a huge fiasco,” she said. “I hated it. It was incredibly painful… My fibroids were located in the exact same place where the IUD was placed… The pain was just unbearable.”

Finally, Pete Chatmon (Kelly’s husband) encouraged her to find , who urged her to find more permanent relief. She found a doctor who, she said, “literally lifted her fists and said, ‘Painful periods are not normal.’ She had surgery two years ago. And she’s been pain-free ever since.

Exploring Fibroid Treatment Options Hashtag fibroid fix

Kelly’s story is anything but unique. Fibroid are very common. Especially for African American women like Kelly, who are three times more likely than white women to develop fibroids. Unfortunately, many of these women also get insufficient medical advice. Like Kelly, few are told about all of their treatment options.

And Kelly acknowledges that her path won’t work for everyone. “I’m not…necessarily just advocating surgery. I’m advocating treatment that actually is meant to address giving your body and your mind relief; that is not a course of Ibuprofen every month…For me, that meant surgery.”

But, she wants every woman to find their best course of action. And she’s offering this advice:  “I think a lot of doctors are quick to end the appointment and you have to be persistent…If you’re walking around and your wrist hurts, your doctor wouldn’t just be like, ‘Yes, sometimes your wrist hurts.’ You don’t have to deal with that. So, address it, take it seriously and make your doctor take it seriously with you.”

We believe those are #WCW words to live by. So, if you have fibroids and you’re looking for more treatment options, ask your doctor about UFE. And if you aren’t getting answers, come schedule a consultation with our Houston area fibroid specialists.

Here’s How to Get the Best Fibroid Treatment Outcome

If you have fibroid tumors, lessening the gap between your gynecologist and an interventional radiologist can mean a world of difference to your health. When you don’t know all your treatment options, you may not get the results you want, even if you treat your fibroids.

Uterine Fibroid Treatment Options in Houston

Gynecologist and Interventional RadiologistIf you’ve been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, your gynecologist may present some treatment (less invasive) options. But, interventional radiologists may suggest even more treatment options .

In the past, gynecologists made hysterectomies into the standard fibroid treatment. Now, uterine fibroid embolization  is a more common option. So, if you want to avoid surgery, you need a gynecologist who understands the value of UFE. That way, you can make an informed decision about your treatment options.

Interventional Radiologist and Gynecologist Collaboration

Today, we know that collaborative care gives patients access to all the minimally invasive options available. Studies by the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology show that gynecologists refer just 61% of fibroid patients to Interventional Radiologists. And that means that only 38% percent had UFE when many more were candidates. The women who didn’t have UFE treatment needed follow up care. What does this teach you? That you have to ask about UFE! Your doctor may not volunteer the information! 

Fibroid Treatment

You do need your gynecologist first to perform a pelvic exam. However, you also need to see specialists like the interventional radiologists at Houston Fibroids to learn about UFE. 

That’s because Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that can be done at the Houston Fibroids offices in Katy and Bellaire. During UFE treatment, an interventional radiologist will block the blood vessels around the fibroids resulting in the fibroid shrinking.

Now that you know your options, contact us at (713) 575-3686 to schedule a consultation to learn more about uterine fibroid embolization.

Sources: www.jmig.org

Check out this Scary Statistic About African American Women & Fibroids

Did you know that African American women have some of the worst fibroid experiences? It’s sad, but true. First, they are they three times more likely to develop these non-cancerous tumors. As if that’s not bad enough, their treatment process and outcome is also different than women of other races. And, often, it is much worse. This is what you need to know.

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. Daughters are also three times as likely to have fibroids if their mother experienced them, which just completes this vicious circle. 

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: Black Women’s Health Imperatives, bwhi.org 

#WCW: Raquel K Finds an Alternative to Fibroid Surgery

Many times, we feature celebrity fibroid warriors as our Woman Crush Wednesday, but this week we get to draw from our own patient pool. A few months ago, we welcomed Raquel K. to our Houston area fibroid practice; as she explains, she came to us because she was, “looking for an alternative to having surgery due to fibroids.”

Like many African American women, Raquel was diagnosed with fibroids and was facing scary treatment options like surgical removal of her tumors or even of her uterus (hysterectomy.) When she discovered our practice and scheduled her first appointment, she says, “Dr. Fox and his team took time to explain the UFE procedure and made me feel very comfortable.”

What is UFE?

UFE (Uterine Fibroid Embolization) is a minimally invasive alternative fibroid treatment. It’s also an out-patient procedure. Our doctors insert a catheter through our patient’s femoral artery, in your upper thigh. Next, we guide the catheter to the uterine artery until we get close to your fibroid tumor. Finally, we inject an embolic substance into the catheter. The embolic material blocks the vessels around the fibroid, cutting off its blood and oxygen. Soon, your fibroids shrink. And, since the embolic material is permanently lodged in the blood vessels at the fibroid site, they don’t come back.. 

After Raquel successfully underwent her UFE procedure, she turned to our practice Facebook page to share her story. “My quality of life has improved greatly since my UFE and I am very happy with my results,” she revealed. So now, she’s part of the team helping spread the word about this alternative #FibroidFix. And, in our well-versed hashtag books, that earns her a spot on the #WCW list, as well! 

3 Reasons to Choose UFE Over Surgery

When you have uterine fibroids, it’s important to explore all your treatment options. Many women with fibroids think they need a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus,) But many could find relief with myomectomy (surgical removal of the tumor) or uterine fibroid embolization (a minimally invasive treatment protocol that blocks blood flow to your fibroids, causing them to shrink.) 

While hysterectomy is a drastic surgery, some women may be confused about which of the two less invasive treatment options would be their best choice. Now, new research is giving women two important reasons to choose UFE. 

3 Main Advantages of Uterine Fibroid Embolization 

According to research conducted by Dr. Jemianne Bautista-Jia, UFE may be more effective than myomectomy at relieving fibroid symptoms. The study discovered three advantages to this method.  

  1. With UFE, women were less likely to need secondary procedures than women who had myomectomy
  2. Women were less likely to need a blood transfusion after UFE than following surgery
  3. Women whose fibroids caused heavy menstrual bleeding experienced better relief with UFE than with myomectomy

While the study did note that more women became pregnant after myomectomy than after UFE, all other findings pointed women towards greater relief with UFE. Dr. Bautista-Jia, in presenting the findings wanted women with fibroids to take away his message: if heavy bleeding is your main fibroid symptom, UFE is the way to go. She also suggested that all women with symptomatic fibroids should explore UFE as a great treatment option. 

Want more info on UFE? Reach out and schedule a consultation with our Houston area fibroid specialists. 

Sources: evtoday.com, Society of Interventional Radiology

A message regarding COIVD-19

We are keeping a close eye on COVID-19 developments in the greater Houston area, and encourage you to do the same. To ensure that our patients are able to receive the care they need, Texas Endovascular/Houston Fibroids will remain open and accessible. Because we are not a primary care or hospital environment where sick patients would go for testing or treatment for COVID-19, we feel that the risk of exposure in our office is low. To supplement our rigorous standard precautions for health and safety, please refer to the following guidelines:

Please refer to the guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the most current information. The CDC reminds us to follow best practices, including washing hands often with soap and water, not touching our eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, avoiding contact with people who are sick, and limiting personal contact, including shaking hands. Learn more about the CDC recommendations here.

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