Category: Treatment Options

Women Demand Equal Fibroid Care

Together with Acessa Health Inc., the White Dress Project has launched the Goodbye Fibroids initiative to unite women, doctors and political leaders in order to raise awareness of and improve care for women living with fibroids.  

Recently, the two groups made a presentation at the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference to discuss how women of different races are not receiving the same quality of fibroid care. As Acessa Health CEO Kim Rodriguez pointed out, “Unfortunately, there is a well-established racial barrier to women receiving less invasive alternatives to hysterectomy.” In other words, though black women have a much higher risk of developing these non-cancerous uterine tumors, they are much less likely to receive information about the full range of fibroid treatment options, including minimally invasive procedures like Uterine Fibroid Embolization.

The facts are clear (and upsetting): among women who elected to have hysterectomies to treat their fibroids, African American women were less likely to receive a minimally invasive surgery compared to white women. They were also 40% more likely to develop complications, nearly three times as likely to have an extended hospital stay, and three times as likely to die after their procedures.

While these are statistics for hysterectomies, they don’t even begin to explore other fibroid treatment options—which likely means that women aren’t even being informed about hysterectomy alternatives.

Tanika Gray Valbrun, founder of The White Dress Project, told the Black Caucus, “As a community we need to begin to address and change the clear, systematic and structural defect within the US healthcare system that disproportionately pushes women of color toward the most invasive option, which is hysterectomy.”

As interventional radiologists in Houston, we could not agree more. We applaud the Goodbye Fibroids movement, and have ourselves been promoting #FibroidFix, a campaign to make all women aware of all the available treatment options for fibroids, particularly the ones that will preserve their fertility and minimize the risk of surgical complications. Will you join us in spreading the word? Please share this information with all your female friends and help us and the Goodbye Fibroids team make better healthcare accessible to every woman in this country.

#WCW: Helping Vanessa Beat her Fibroid Pain

In our fibroids practice, we strive to provide women with treatments that help them alleviate their pain and frustration without having to undergo surgery. What makes this mission so rewarding is hearing from our happy patients. Recently, one of our patients, Vanessa Williams, agreed to share her story of pain and recovery with other women in search of help with their fibroids. 

Vanessa’s Fibroid Story
Ms. Williams had been in pain and dealing with other complications when she was diagnosed with uterine fibroids. Still a young woman, she did not want to be treated with a hysterectomy (the surgical removal of her uterus), an option that would immediately send her into menopause. Yes, it would solve her fibroid problem, but it would also leave her facing a long and painful recovery. She knew there had to be a better option.

Doing her Research
Like so many of us do, Vanessa hit the internet in search of alternate treatment options for women with fibroids. Thankfully, during her search, Ms. Williams came across our Houston Fibroids Facebook page—and that’s when everything started to change.

On our page, she learned about Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) a non-invasive treatment option that could permanently shrink her tumors by cutting off their supply of blood and oxygen. She read first-hand accounts of women who’d had the procedure and whose lives had truly been changed by their ability to manage pain without undergoing a hysterectomy. She was convinced, and she came into our office.

Inside her Recovery
At our office, Vanessa met with Dr. Fox. At the initial consultation, during which she was determined to be a good candidate for UFE, Ms. William’s was able to ask all her questions and get immediate answers from our team of experts. She decided to go ahead with UFE and scheduled a procedure date.

After her treatment, during which a catheter was inserted into her arm to deliver embolizing materials to her fibroids, Vanessa was determined to return to our Facebook page and share her story in the hopes of helping other women find and learn about this alternative treatment option. She had the following words to share about her journey:

After the procedure, “It was very painful for about three days due to the cramping. I had meds but had a hard time taking them. However I am so thrilled after totally healing. I have so much energy!! My stomach shrank as well. So look into this if you suffer with fibroids. All of my female issues gradually started to leave. As of two weeks ago I’m 100 better totally free of those issues”

Find Your Fix
We are grateful to Vanessa for so generously sharing her story, and to all of our patients who have bravely opened up about the benefits of UFE, helping so many women learn about their options. For more information on UFE and other fibroid treatments, feel free to reach out to our office staff and team of physicians.  

WCW: Erin Robinson’s Fibroid Campaign

When Amazing Race and YouTube star Erin Robinson discovered her ongoing pain was being caused by 13 uterine fibroids, she knew she had to do something more than just get treatment for her condition: she had to take a stand for women’s health. After all, in her role as an on-air hostess for YouTube’s Clevver station, she and her team “produce 40 videos a week,” she says. Of course, the content she pushes professionally is usually funny, offering people an escape from their problems, Robinson knew she had a platform to help people dealing with the same kind of fibroid pain. And she knew she had to use it!  

Documenting Her Struggle Uterine Fibroids
Deciding to call her new video “It Gets Real,” (see the video at the end of the post) Erin begins her story by telling viewers: “I was suffering for a really long time.” From that moment of truth, she allowed the camera to follow her through the process of researching the best treatment for her condition. While she initially feared that she would lose her uterus to hysterectomy, Erin eventually found a doctor who treated her fibroids by shrinking them instead of removing the non-cancerous tumors. 

For Erin, the treatment plan was life changing. As she explains, “I felt better than I’ve ever felt before. I think you live with pain for so long — you self-medicate, you stretch, you workout, you do whatever you can — you start forgetting what being normal feels like.”

She decided to film her story (using an all female crew) and share it publicly for two reasons: to teach women about alternative fibroid treatments that avoid hysterectomies, and to remind women to see their doctors as soon as they start feeling unwell. At the time of her initial diagnosis, Erin explains, “I hadn’t been to an OBGYN in four years. And we talk about that in the show. Whenever I tell people that, they either say, ‘Wow, you should have really gone,’ or ‘I haven’t been either.’ I have friends who I tell this story to who have never been to a gynecologist. The more I talked about this, the more I found that women needed to hear this message.”

Spread the Word on #FibroidFix
In our Houston fibroid practice, we also offer fibroid treatments that shrink tumors by cutting off their supply of blood and oxygen. So often, we are surprised to learn that our patients’ ObGyn’s didn’t suggest this type of treatment; instead, like Erin, they had to research the option on their own. We stand with our #WCW Erin Robinson in believing that women have a right to know all their fibroid treatment options. So help us and Erin Robinson spread the word and let’s get information about alternative fibroid treatments trending today! 

Is UFE Covered by Insurance?

Many women diagnosed with uterine tumors are worried about covering the cost of fibroid treatments. In our Houston fibroids practice, we offer a non-invasive, alternative  treatment option known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization. Its benefits include: minimal downtime, no hospital stays and the ability to avoid surgery and hysterectomy! 

Fortunately for patients seeking relief from fibroid pain, UFE is an established and accepted fibroid treatment option. As such, all major insurers (and most plans in general) will cover the cost of treatment (check out the helpful video below for more information from one of our fibroid experts, Dr. Hardee.) In fact, because we perform all UFE procedures in our Houston fibroids office, on an outpatient basis, many patients are faced with much lower out-of-pocket expenses in comparison to other treatment options. While surgeries like myomectomies and hysterectomies require costly hospital stays, anesthesia and other additional expenses, many women who decide to proceed with UFE are billed for as little as an office visit co-pay. Additionally, by September, many women will have met their insurance plan deductibles, further lowering the expected cost of treating fibroids.

Of course, as an office, we want patients to focus on getting better, not on worrying about paying for their treatment. For that reason, our experienced team is on hand and available to help with handling any insurance issues that come up for patients being evaluated and treated for uterine fibroids. Even before your treatments begin, someone from our office will contact your insurance company directly to address any coverage issues before treatment.

 Insurance and our Houston Fibroid Practice

Uterine-Fibroid-Treatment-for-African-American-Women in HoustonThankfully, our practice also works with a wide variety of insurers: from Medicare to HMO plans, we have one of the most comprehensive insurance offerings in the greater Houston area. This means that you will more-than-likely be covered when it comes to paying for UFE.

With over 30 years of combined experience treating women suffering from fibroids, Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee know how difficult dealing with fibroids can be. That’s why our doctors offer a less invasive treatment option and a variety of ways to pay for the treatment itself. Don’t let concerns about cost prevent you from treating your fibroid pain. Contact our office at (713) 575-3686 to begin your insurance-covered journey to better health! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#WCW: FKA Twigs Fibroids Journey

On this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday, we are celebrating singer (and former Robert Pattinson fiance) FKA Twigs for opening up about her fibroids struggle. In May, the star gave a very revealing Instagram update, saying she had undergone laproscopic surgery to remove six fibroids from her uterus. 

She went on to share: “the tumours were pretty huge, the size of 2 cooking apples 🍎 🍎, 3 kiwis 🥝 🥝 🥝 and a couple of 🍓🍓.
a fruit bowl of pain everyday. the nurse said that the weight and size was like being 6 months pregnant.”

Pain and Loneliness
Sadly, for FKA Twigs, the journey to healing was extremely tough. “I tried to be brave but it was excruciating at times and to be honest I started to doubt if my body would ever feel the same again,” she said. “I had surgery in December and I was so scared, despite lots of love from friends and family I felt really alone and my confidence as a woman was knocked.”

The good news is that, six months later, the singer was feeling better and ready to share a message with other struggling women: “I know that a lot of women suffer from fibroid tumours and I just wanted to say after my experience that you are amazing warriors and that you are not alone. you can get through this,” she said, concluding, “and with this I let go of the pain… love always twigs.”

A Better Path
We are so thankful that laproscopic surgery helped FKA Twigs feel like herself again; certainly, many women have been helped by similar procedure. Still, any kind of surgery is traumatic to your body, so why go under the knife if there’s another option? 

Thankfully, there is! Known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), it’s a minimally invasive fibroid treatment delivered through a catheter inserted into your arm. Women can typically avoid hospital stays with this outpatient procedure and most feel well enough to stand up and walk immediately afterwards. 

So to all of Ms. Twigs’ fellow fibroid warriors, we say: know your options. Come into our Houston Fibroids office and find out if UFE is right for you! 

 

Warning: Fibroid Meds Linked to Liver Damage

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, because some women taking Esmya have suffered liver injuries, the EMA now recommends that all patients should have liver screenings before and after taking the drug. Women with a history of liver problems should never take Esmya, and the drug should really be seen as an option of last resort. Only women without other treatment options should take this drug, according to the EMA. 

Sadly, many women are not aware of UFE, a minimally invasive fibroid treatment with many fewer potential complications. Women who are eligible for this non-invasive treatment option can expect an outpatient procedure that lasts for about about one hour; in fact, because the procedure is conducted through an artery in the arm, most UFE patients are able to stand up and walk around right after receiving treatment. Best of all, treatment is delivered directly to the uterine growths, offering a permanent fibroid solution that leaves other body parts completely unaffected. 

If you have been prescribed medications to help with the side effects of uterine fibroids, it’s crucial that you learn about 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. 

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. 

#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!

TV Star Faces Fibroid Surgery after Delayed Intervention

An Indian TV host is sharing her story after delaying fibroid treatments forced her to have invasive surgery. According to Fatma Mohammed, two years ago, troubling symptoms sent her to the doctor, where she was diagnosed with uterine fibroids. At the time, she says, only five fibroids were detected. Myths about uterine fibroids

Unfortunately, Mohammed did not seek immediate treatment. By the time she was ready for help, the first five fibroids had grown bigger. Additionally, 21 new fibroids had developed. At that point, Mohammed’s physicians opted to surgically remove the fibroids. Following her recovery from major surgery, Mohammed decided to publicize her outcome so that other women could avoid similar situations. “I was informed that if only I had sought treatment when the five were first detected then I would not have gone under the knife,” she says. “Laparoscopy (a surgical procedure in which a fiber-optic instrument is inserted through the abdominal wall) would have removed them.”

We are so grateful that Fatma is telling her story, but we’re also terribly sad. It’s true that early treatment is crucial for fibroids, but it’s also true that laparoscopic surgery is still surgery.

In our Houston Fibroids practice, we offer women a non-surgical, out-patient treatment option known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). It’s delivered through an artery in the left wrist, so patients can sit up and walk out of the office right after  the procedure! While not every patient is a candidate, many can benefit from UFE. You don’t have to have radical procedures like surgical fibroid removal or a hysterectomy.

If you have been diagnosed with fibroids and are currently considering treatment options,  schedule a consultation with our doctors. Our team of experts can help you determine how UFE can help you start feeling like yourself again.

How Can UAE Help Adenomyosis

Adenomyosis is a benign, non-life threatening condition, but if you suffer with its painful effects, all you want is relief. Unfortunately it can be confused with uterine fibroids and other conditions, so it can be difficult to diagnose without proper medical attention. 

One of the newer treatments for Adenomyosis is UAE, or Uterine Artery Embolization. How does its effectiveness stack up against other treatments?

Continue reading “How Can UAE Help Adenomyosis”