Category: Treatment Options

#WCW: How to Talk About Fibroid Fears

Let’s face it: it’s hard to talk about fibroids. Now, as fibroid specialists in Houston, we know that a fibroid diagnosis doesn’t have to change your entire life. But we also know how scary it can be to learn you have tumors in your uterus—even though they aren’t cancerous. So that’s why his week’s Woman Crush Wednesday is our choice of honoree—she’s getting very real (in a very public way) about her fears over a fibroid diagnosis. Plus, she’s scoring attention nationwide, making it easier for all women to talk about fibroids. Here’s to you, Shay Johnson, for sharing your fibroid story on Love & Hip Hop. And for your new role as the Fibroid Fighters Ambassador!

Spreading the Word  Shay Johnson helps women choose UFE vs hysteretcomy for fibroid treatment

Recently, the Fibroid Fighters association named Shay Johnson as a brand ambassador. Fibroid Fighters is a non-profit group with a mission that’s close to our heart. Their goals include:

  • Educating people about how fibroids cause health, social and economic damages
  • Focusing on research and treatment advances
  • Spreading the word about minimally invasive treatments like uterine fibroid embolization (UFE)

In announcing Shay’s new role, CEO Yan Katsnelson said that the star’s “Willingness to share her ordeal with fibroids will help bring attention to this health epidemic. Women need hear from others that have suffered from fibroids and learn about non-surgical treatments such as Uterine Fibroid Embolism (UFE) that preserve the uterus and can relieve their painful symptoms.”  And those goals are something Shay’s been all about. For a long time now.

Women Need to Talk About Fibroids

When discussing her new role, Shay said, ““At one point, when I had to say the word, fibroids, I was terrified because I had memories of my symptoms and what I had to go through.”

And that was clear when, a few years back, Shay took to her social media accounts, sharing images of her in a hospital bed. She’d been admitted for a blood transfusion. But, at the time, she didn’t explain why she needed that transfusion.

Then, a little while later, she changed all that. Shay explained to her fellow cast member, Michelle Pooch, “There’s a few things going on with me medically that I haven’t told you about. I’m not dying, [but] I do have a medical condition called fibroids.”

In fact, she continued, she has two fibroids—one of them that has grown so large, it’s now the size of the grapefruit. And this, it turns out, was the explanation for last year’s transfusion.

As Shay explained to Michelle, one of her fibroid symptoms is that she has, “heavy menstrual cycles for longer than 15 days, [and] on top of that, I’ve been fainting because I’m losing so much blood.”

Because of her severe symptoms, Shay’s doctor suggested she remove her fibroids surgically (myomectomy.) In telling Michelle about this suggestion, Shay admitted that she was scared—both about her upcoming surgery and about what her monthly periods would look like afterwards.

Providing Women with Other Fibroid Treatment Options

Like many African-American women (who are disproportionately affected by fibroids), Shay opted to treat her fibroids surgically. And that may well be the treatment option that’s best for her. But, many women aren’t told they have non-surgical options, too. That’s why, today, Shay says, “I went through a myomectomy which they removed the fibroids, instead of a hysterectomy that would have removed my uterus.”

Now she knows why we all have to talk about fibroids. She says, “I realized that…the more we speak up about fibroids, the more awareness we can bring to women who are going through the same issue. The more awareness we raise means we can help prevent the miscarriages, the extended periods, and the pelvic pain women experience by having better treatment options.”

Of course, that includes procedures like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), which can help women with severe fibroid symptoms. Typically, the relief they experience will be equal (or even superior to) that of women who’ve had fibroid surgery.

But, in order to experience relief and avoid surgery, women need to know their options. So, while we commend Shay in this post, we also ask for help spreading the word. We want you to know that there are non-surgical treatment options. And we invite you to explore them with a fibroids consultation in our office. Now, will you help us help women #ask4UFE? If you do, you just might earn a spot in our #WCW hall of fame!

 

WCW: Real Housewife Raising Fibroids Awareness

While uterine fibroids are extremely common, fibroids awareness is very low. Because of that, many of us are working to raise fibroids awareness. That includes Kamala Harris, who sponsored a bill to build understanding and offer better fibroid care in this country. It’s also true of groups like The White Dress Project, who want women to live life free from fibroid symptoms. And now, it’s also true of Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey-Hill. Which is why she’s our #WomanCrushWednesday this week!

Continue reading “WCW: Real Housewife Raising Fibroids Awareness”

Black Maternal Health, Fibroid Treatments and Risk

If you’re exploring fibroid treatments, you’re not alone. Up to 80 percent of adult black women have fibroids. (That’s a rate almost three times higher than white, Hispanic or Asian women.) Now, these muscular growths aren’t usually cancerous. But they can drastically affect your quality of life. In fact, women with fibroids experience pain, heavy bleeding and fertility loss. And here’s the worst part. Many black women can’t access quality healthcare. So they never explore fibroid treatments. For that reason, many women choose hysterectomy (removing their uterus). Even when less invasive treatments work.  And we believe that has to change. Jasmine Gomez fights for information on fibroid treatments

The problem gets worse when it comes to black maternal health. Like their increased fibroid rates, black mothers die from complications related to pregnancy at roughly two to three times the rate of other women . And that’s regardless of their income or education levels. For that reason, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have declared Black Maternal Health week, in an attempt to fight disparity in maternal health outcomes. And it’s also why we’re sharing stories from black women who struggled to access equal health care. Because we hope to bring equity to fibroid treatments and all areas of healthcare.

Seeking Equal Healthcare for Black Women

Jasmine Gomez is one such woman. She told Women’s Health magazine that, in her 20s, she wanted to donate her eggs. But during the process doctors discovered nine large fibroids. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, she said. After all, she says, “My mom dealt with uterine fibroids herself (she had surgery to remove hers when I was younger, but we never really talked about it.”

That lack of information meant Jasmine didn’t know much about fibroids. “I didn’t know that you are more at risk of developing fibroids if you have a family member who also has them. I also didn’t know that fibroids are more common and severe in African American women than those of other ethnicities,” she says.

Trouble with Fibroid Treatments

Because she lacked key information, Jasmine’s large fibroids needed to be removed surgically. And that’s when things got really bad. During surgery, doctors discovered more fibroids. They tried to remove them all. But the surgery was taking too long, and Jasmine lost lots of blood. So they closed her up. And left behind fibroids that were deeply embedded in her uterus. Their advice? To let the remaining tumors get bigger. And get surgery again when they caused problems.

Jasmine wasn’t ok with that advice. She couldn’t face a future of constant surgery. So she got to research, and decided to have a partial hysterectomy. Now, that’s not the right outcome for every woman. But it’s one that made sense for her lifestyle. And one she made armed with knowledge. Which is why she says, “I wish I’d been better informed about fibroids when I first learned I had them.” And why we’re sharing more information about these tumors today, to honor Jasmine as our Woman Crush of the week.

 

Fibroids: A Common Problem

Let’s really understand uterine fibroids. These fleshy, non-cancerous tumors develop in, on or around your uterus. And, we don’t know why. But we do know that fibroids are three times as common in African American populations as in Caucasian ones.

Recently, a study in the Journal of Women’s Health suggested two possible explanations for the increased rate of fibroids in black women. So, what were the culprits? Douching and using perineal talc. (Some women apply perineal talc to sanitary napkins, underwear, or directly to their skin. It’s supposed to reduce chafing and odor. But it can be very dangerous for your health.) We already knew that exposure to talcum powder could increase the risk for ovarian cancer. But now, research suggests it also raises the risk for fibroid growth.

This is true for all black women. But it’s an even bigger problem for African American women with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD.) In fact, a recent study in Academic Radiology found that 61.2% of black women with SCD had fibroids. In contrast, a lower 52.1% of the SCD-free black women had fibroids. In other words, fibroids are a major problem in the African American community. And so is the lack of information about fibroid treatment options.

 

Exploring Fibroid Treatments

Unfortunately, many black women often cure fibroids with hysterectomies. Now, a hysterectomy will eliminate your fibroid problems. But it can cause a whole range of new health concerns. Not just immediate infertility. Studies show that hysterectomies, especially in women under 40, can lead to incontinence, loss of sex drive, depression, obesity and heart problems.

That’s pretty scary on it’s own. But here’s what’s worse: hysterectomy isn’t your only choice when it comes to fibroid symptom relief. You can choose myomectomy, a surgery that remove your fibroids, not your uterus. And, even more excitingly, there are non-surgical procedures like UFE! In this procedure, we cut off blood flow to your fibroids. We effectively killing the tumor, without forcing you to deal with hospital stays or extended down time. UFE may be a great option if you hope to avoid the expense and risks of invasive surgery. The only problem is this: many women don’t even know UFE exits.

Expanding Fibroid Treatment Options

That’s where health care activism can make a difference. We see exciting developments in government already. And say thank you to Senator Kamala Harris. Her bill to expand fibroid research is a great step. (And the reason Jasmine Gomez bravely opened up about her condition.) Our doctors strongly believe that investing in women’s health care is a great way to help achieve healthcare equality. For ALL women.

But we also know that there’s more work to do. That’s why our doctors are joining the cause. We’re fighting to help all women access high-quality health care by spreading the word about UFE. Women should be armed with information. They need to know about all treatment options. It’s the only way to make informed healthcare decisions. About fibroid treatment or any other health challenge. Now, we want your help in our mission. So please share your fibroid stories. And offer info on alternatives to hysterectomy, on our website or social media. Use the hashtag  #FibroidFix. Let’s get women’s health care issues trending!

7 Fibroid Facts Black Women Need to Know

As we just mention, we’re on a mission to spread fibroid information. After all, information is one of the best tools we have when fighting fibroids. So check out this 7 point list, from author Porsha Monique, designed to help raise fibroid awareness.

  1. Fibroids are especially common in African-American women.
  2. They are the number one cause of your heavy periods. Heavy periods could be defined as having to change your tampon or pad every hour. Or always needing backup period protection.
  3. Uterine growths are also the #1 reason for hysterectomy. But learning your options can reduce the number of avoidable surgeries.
  4. Too many times, women with fibroids are told to “watch” them. But this leads to fibroid growth and limits your treatment options.
  5. Non-invasive treatments such as UFE can help. UFE is performed by Interventional Radiologists like our Houston specialists.
  6. Compared to fibroid surgery, UFE is less invasive and less expensive. You won’t need to stay in hospital and you’ll enjoy a shorter recovery.
  7. UFE has a very high success rate (90%). Fibroid treatments like this offer symptom relief with fewer risks. And, you can keep your uterus so you don’t enter menopause.

Want to see if UFE could help you find fibroid symptom relief? Schedule an appointment with our fibroid treatment experts. We can review your options and see if you’re a good candidate for Uterine Fibroid Embolization.

Sources: White House Briefing Room, Rolling Out Magazine, Journal of Academic Radiology

This is What Black Women Must Know About Fibroid Surgery

Fibroid surgery is potentially dangerous, but sadly not uncommon. After all, fibroids—non-cancerous tumors of the uterus—are a pretty common problem. Especially among black women, who develop these tumors at a higher rate than other women. In fact, by the time they reach 50, 80% of black women will develop fibroids. (Compare that to other groups of women, where the rate drops to 50% by age 50.)

Fortunately, fibroids are fairly easy to treat. Unfortunately, many women opt for what they think is minimally invasive fibroid surgery. And then, they end up dying. Why? Because the surgeries they thought would cure them actually spread undiagnosed uterine cancer to other parts of their bodies. Of course, this could happen to any woman with fibroids. But as it turns out, it’s impacting black women at a higher rate of danger. uterine fibroid embolization procedure

Fibroid Surgery Can Spread Cancer

So many doctors recommend laparoscopic surgery to remove a woman’s fibroids. They claim it is a minimally invasive procedure. But, because it may involve the use of a surgical instrument called a power morcellator, it is actually an extremely dangerous procedure.

Why? Morcellators divide and remove large masses of tissue, like fibroids. during laparoscopic surgery. In fibroid surgeries, the tumors are chopped up (or morcellated) into smaller pieces so they can easily be removed through the small incision.

This is all well and good if a woman is completely healthy. If, however, she has undiagnosed uterine cancer, some of the cancer cells may be spread while the non-cancerous fibroids are being morcellated. And, if the cancer is leiomyosarcoma, or LMS, (an aggressive form of uterine cancer) doctors are unlikely to notice the cancer cells until they are in the middle of surgery, or, even worse, after the procedure is done and the tissue is being examined in the lab. At either of those stages, damage may already have been done. Cancer could be spread outside the woman’s uterus.

 

Cancer Could be Hiding Next to Fibroids

While fibroids are non-cancerous tumors, some may also be attached to cancerous cells. And if those cancerous cells are LMS, they will likely give no warning signs or symptoms until it’s too late.

Now, when LMS stays in your uterus, there’s only a 50% survival rate after five years. And chopping up and spreading those cells outside your uterus decreases that already low survival rate.

And here’s even more bad news. Not only are black women at a higher risk of developing fibroids, they are also  two to three times more likely to have LMS than white women. When you combine those two factors, it adds up to this fact: black women who get laparoscopic fibroid surgery or laparoscopic hysterectomies have an extremely high risk of spreading cancer throughout their bodies. In fact, according to the FDA, the odds are about 1 in 115. Because of these risks, the FDA’s deputy director for science advises against this procedure. Says Dr.
William Maisel, “In general, the procedure should not be performed.”

Morcellators are Still In Use

While no longer recommended, we know that some women in this country still have laparoscopic surgeries with morcellators. And many of the women receiving these operations don’t even know their risks! Plus, the FDA now says you shouldn’t use the power morcellator without a cell containment system in place.

Now, that’s an important safety update. But, while reviewing morcellator safety, the FDA heard testimony from injured women–and not one black woman was included in the group. That means we need help spreading the word. Tell your friends with fibroids that laparoscopic fibroid surgery could be fatal. Then, send them our way (or come yourself) for a fibroid treatment consultation. We can discuss safer treatment options, including Uterine Fibroid Embolization, a minimally invasive treatment option that doesn’t come with a risk of spreading uterine cancer.

Sources: US Food and Drug Administration

UFE Gives Better Fibroid Outcomes, Study Proves

If you want a treatment with better fibroid outcomes, this read is for you! Because, according to a new Mayo Clinic study, minimally invasive uterine fibroid treatments offer better results than surgical options. That’s exciting news for women who want to avoid hysterectomy. And for those of us who seek to understand fibroid risks to deliver better fibroid outcomes.

Why do women get fibroids?

We still don’t know why women develop fibroids. But understanding different risk factors can help us target fibroid treatments. Recently, at the 2021 Fibroid Summit, presenters talked about factors that increase fibroid risk.

Admitting there’s not one trigger, several potential risk factors were discussed. First, presenters noted that vitamin D deficiency and obesity increase your fibroid risk. Also, changes in your microbiome and being extra responsive to estrogen were noted as fibroid risks. Finally, in-utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol (des) turns out to be a major risk for fibroids. (This is a type of synthetic estrogen hormone. Today, we know it’s very dangerous. But between the 1940s and 1970s, many women were given this drug to prevent miscarriages and other pregnancy complications. So, if your mother took des while pregnant, your fibroid risk increases.)

Now, just because you’re at risk for fibroids doesn’t mean you’ll develop these non-cancerous tumors. In fact, many women develop fibroids with no known risk factors. Still, whatever your fibroid risk, it’s important to know you have several treatment options. And they don’t have to involve surgery.

UFE Fibroid Outcomes

According to a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who treated fibroids with UAE (uterine artery embolization) were less likely to need a second procedure than women who were treated with MRI focused ultrasound surgery (MRgFUS). 

Now, both treatments reduced women’s fibroid symptoms. But UFE offered better symptom reduction.

Of course, the study proved that both procedures were minimally invasive, Meaning they’re both great alternatives to hysterectomy. (That procedure requires the complete removal of your uterus.)

This is great news for all women, since fibroids lead to about 200,000 hysterectomies each year in this country. While hysterectomies can “cure” women of fibroids, removing your uterus increases your risk of long term health complications. And these include weight gain and heart disease.

Putting Women FIRSTT

What’s important about this study is that it finally, alternatives to hysterectomies. In this way, it’s easier to see which is minimally invasive treatment delivers the best fibroid outcomes. And in this study, called FIRSTT Fibroid Interventions: Reducing Symptoms Today and Tomorrow, Mayo Clinic, Duke University and University of California, San Francisco,  researchers compared MRgFUS to UAE to determine effectiveness.

During the study, 83 participants were randomly assigned to receive one of the two treatments. Over the next four years, researchers compared the fibroid outcomes for both. (Seventy women had MRgFUS and 62 had UAE.) Of the MRgFUS women, 30 percent underwent a second fibroid procedure. In comparison, only 13 percent of the UAE patients needed a second procedure.

Finding Better Fibroid Outcomes in Houston

For interventional radiologists like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee, this study is great news. What it proves to us, and to our patients, is that alternative hysterectomy treatments are effective. Plus, it shows that some are more effective than others. In this way, the study shows the importance of considering all your fibroid treatment options. In that way, when you decide to deal with your fibroid diagnosis, you’ll get great outcomes.

Ready to learn more about UAE? We’re here to help. Call our office and request an immediate appointment. We’ll help you find the treatment that’s best for you!

 

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Contemporary ObGyn  

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”

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

Are you wondering, what is adenomyosis? 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 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. In fact, studies show lots of disagreement on the prevalence of this problem. Because literature suggests that anywhere from 20% to 88% of symptomatic women ultimately get diagnosed.  But with that broad range, we often confuse this condition for others. Also, many women with adenomyosis also have endometriosis. And 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.

Getting a Diagnosis

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. After taking your medical history, your doctor may need to perform a transvaginal ultrasound and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in order to deliver an accurate diagnosis. Also, taking a myometrial biopsy can speed up diagnosis. (That’s when your doctor takes a tissue sample from the middle layer of your uterus.)

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, Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology

Helping Women Get the Best Fibroid Treatment Outcome

This International Women’s Day, we want to help you get the best fibroid treatment outcome! After all, 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.

Of course, before we talk about fibroid treatment outcome, we need people to know about fibroids. To that end, The Fibroid Foundation is launching the new #askHER initiative. What’s the idea behind this campaign? Well, it goes like this. About 70% of all women will develop fibroids in her lifetime. But too many women (and men) have never heard about uterine fibroids! And that’s something the foundation hopes to change.

For that reason, we’re encouraging everyone to #askHER (a woman with fibroids) about her experience. By asking about fibroids, you can give that woman a safe space to talk about her story and feelings. In turn, this conversation can help her get support from family and her entire healthcare team. Which we also hope will help all women get the best fibroid treatment outcomes. But first, she needs to know that there are options when it comes to treating 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!

Getting the Best Fibroid Treatment Outcome

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: Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology 

How UFE Transforms Fibroid Care Here and Around the World!                

Here in Houston, our team of interventional radiologists have been providing UFE for years. Short for Uterine Fibroid Embolization, this is minimally-invasive fibroid treatment that’s been around for quite some time. But in other parts of the world, that isn’t the case. Internationally, women have spent years dealing with fibroid symptoms or opting for invasive treatments like hysterectomies.

A hysterectomy is a serious surgery that immediately puts a woman into menopause. It can also leave her dealing with years of complications. That’s why we are happy to reveal that Uterine Fibroid Embolization, an effective outpatient fibroid procedure, has a rich history in this country. Plus, now, it’s available to the women of Nepal and other international locations.

History of UFE Alternative to Hysterectomy

The first Uterine Fibroid Embolization procedure was in Paris in 1974. The procedure helped a woman whose fibroids caused heavy bleeding and anemia. Then, after years of development, the doctors launched the first clinical trial in 1995.

At that time, the results were great. Of the participants, 75% saw great results. Then, in turn, five and 10-year studies proved this minimally-invasive treatment was a great alternative to hysterectomy.

UFE Today

Today’s fibroid patients have so many treatment options. And, luckily, we’ve got solid evidence that UFE provides outcomes that are equal to (or better than) myomectomy. (For those who don’t know, that’s a procedure that surgically removes individual fibroids. On the treatment scale of invasiveness, it’s below hysterectomy. But it’s still a surgery that involves sedation.)

Because of good outcomes and less down time, more and more women are choosing UFE for fibroid treatment. This is helping so many patients avoid unnecessary hysterectomies. And it’s helped spread the word about this fibroid treatment option all across the world.

UFE Comes to Kathmandu

Recently, the doctors at Nepal Mediciti Hospital performed a UFE procedure on a 37-yeauterine fibroid embolization procedurer-old Kathmandu resident.

With UFE, doctors insert a catheter into your arm in order to access the arteries that supply blood to your uterus—and your fibroids. They inject particles into the catheter (a small, flexible tube) blocking the surrounding blood vessels and cutting off the fibroid’s nourishment.  This blockage causes your fibroids to shrink and then die.

The procedure can often be performed on an out-patient basis. You do not typically need to stay in the hospital when you have UFE. And, usually, your recovery period is brief: many women return to work or regular activity levels within days of treatment.

Any time we see women gaining more healthcare options, our fibroid specialists start to celebrate. There is nothing we care about more than helping women avoid invasive surgeries that can impact their fertility—and the rest of their lives.

Sources: The Himalayan Times, Horner, Peder E. “Uterine Fibroid Treatment Without the Incision.”

 

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Fibroid Treatments (by level of invasiveness)

When you need a guide to fibroid treatments, things get confusion. After all, at one point, removing the entire uterus (hysterectomy) was women’s only fibroid treatment option.  But today, that’s far from the case. While we don’t know why you develop fibroids, we do know that some things (such as delaying childbirth or your race or genetics) can increase your risk. And, we know these growths may leave you dealing with disruptive symptoms, they aren’t cancerous. And that means you don’t need to rush sorting through your treatment options.

We

Instead,  take your time and consider a range of options. These may depend on the size of your fibroids and the severity of your symptoms. And, may we suggest starting with the less invasive options and working your way up to more permanent solutions if needed.

Option One: Leave Your Fibroids Alone

Not experiencing fibroid symptoms? Relax and leave them alone (at least for now!)

If your fibroids are small, you may want to leave them be. Or if your fibroids aren’t causing problems, treatment may  be avoidable.  Or, if you’re not getting pregnant any time soon, delaying treatment be best. But, the important thing to remember is: even if you decide not to treat your fibroids, that’s a decision that should be made after a lengthy discussion with your doctor and your fibroid specialist.

Option Two: Live a Fibroid-Friendly Lifestyle

While you may not actively treat your fibroids, you can still take steps to help keep existing tumors from growing larger. And, while we can’t know for sure, some of these changes may also stop new fibroids from ever developing.

ThHysterectomy alternativese biggest lifestyle changes you make to fight fibroids involve your diet and exercise. Again, while we don’t know exactly why fibroids form, we also know that estrogen can impact fibroid development. Which means that women with fibroids should balance out their estrogen levels, and one key way to do so is by maintaining a healthy body weight.

This means following a balanced, healthy diet, full of fruits and veggies, and void of fatty foods—especially red meats. Regular exercise can also help you lose a few pounds. Plus, some studies suggest that exercise can help minimize your fibroid symptoms, even if it doesn’t lead to weight loss, or even if you’re already at your ideal weight.

Option Three: Medications that Fight Fibroids

Some hormone-based drugs can help manage your fibroids symptoms. They may even shrink existing tumors.

Certain drugs work by blocking your body’s natural hormone production, causing your fibroids to shrink, and stopping many of the worst fibroid symptoms, like long, heavy periods, pain in your pelvis, and the frequent need to pee. Unfortunately, these meds may replace fibroid symptoms with side effects that mimic menopause, which can be equally unpleasant, and force you to start taking more drugs to manage the new symptoms. Yet these new drugs may make the hormone blockers less effective, allowing your fibroids to flourish…basically, hormone blocking puts you on a not-so-thrilling roller coaster ride. Which is why it’s typically a short-term treatment option for women birth control pillswho’ve opted for surgery, but first hope to shrink their fibroids a bit.

In contrast, medications with hormones may also be used to treat fibroid symptoms. Drugs with ‘male’ hormones (androgen) can shrink your fibroids and stop your periods. But they may result in unwanted side effects, like unwanted hair growth, weight gain and a lowering of your voice.

Hormonal birth control can also manage fibroid symptoms, by helping control the length of your periods. They may give you relief from heavy periods, but they won’t do anything to shrink your fibroids, and your symptoms will likely return if you stop taking the contraceptives.

And don’t forget over-the-counter options like Ibuprofen—they can help you cope with mild to moderate pain, without impacting your fibroid size or development in any way.

Option Four: Uterine artery embolization (UAE)

This procedure, also known as uterine fibroid embolization, is what we provide in our Houston fibroid clinic. With UFE, we shrink and kill your fibroids by cutting off their blood supply. We insert a catheter through your arm, and UFE graphicinject it with tiny particles that block any blood from reaching the fibroids in or on your uterus. The procedure comes with an easy recovery period, and is typically performed on an outpatient basis.

As interventional radiologists, we believe in UFE because it is less invasive and more cost effective than surgery. UFE also leaves women dealing with fewer complications, while providing equal or greater relief from fibroid symptoms. While safe for most women, if you still plan on becoming pregnant after UFE, you and your doctor should carefully discuss your eligibility for this treatment option.

Option Five: Fibroid Surgery

In some cases, women may elect to surgically remove their fibroids—myomectomy. And, in extreme cases, they may need a hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus.) But, many women can avoid invasive surgeries—which come with hospital stays, extended recoveries and, especially with hysterectomy, long-term complications—by starting their treatment journey with one or more of other treatment options we’ve discussed. Want more information, or need help truly understanding your fibroid treatment options? That’s what we’re here for: reach out to our specialists and schedule a consultation, so we can help you make this important decision.

Sources: The Daily Monitor

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