Category: Treatment Options

Can I Slow Fibroid Growth?

If you’ve been diagnosed with uterine tumors, you may want to learn how to slow fibroid growth. After all, many women with fibroids have questions. Why did I get this kind of tumor? How fast will it grow? What can I do to slow down or stop the growth in my fibroids?

While we don’t know what causes women to develop fibroids, we have some clues about what increases your fibroid risk. In the past, people thought that vaginal infections could increase your risk for fibroids. But recent studies suggest that bacterial vaginosis or other infections don’t increase your odds of developing fibroids.

With one theory disproved, others remain. It’s clear that Black women develop fibroids more often than women of other races. And, while research is ongoing, we think that could be due to chemicals in hair products targeting Black women, as well as other environmental factors.

We also have an understanding of what these tumors are and what factors may increase your risk of developing fibroids. We also know certain factors that affect fibroid growth. To help you gain a better understanding, let’s start at the beginning, with a basic explanation of fibroids.

This x-ray reveals a fairly large uterine fibroid

What are Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop in the wall of your uterus. Fibroids can grow alone or in clusters; they vary in size, from microscopically small to rare cases where they grow to the size of fully-developed fetus.

Fibroid symptoms can include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Painful periods
  • Bloating in the pelvic region
  • Lower back pain
  • Painful sex
  • Frequent need to pee

What Can Speed Up Fibroid Growth?

While your genes will play a role in how quickly fibroids grow, hormones like estrogen and progesterone also affect the growth of these tumors. Without these two hormones, fibroids are unable to grow which is why, in the past, causing a woman to experience menopause was considered the only cure for fibroids. Thankfully, we now know better and can offer women less dramatic treatment options.

How Big Will My Fibroids Become?

It’s difficult to know how big a fibroid tumor will become–growth varies from person to person, predict how big a fibroid will grow or what causes a fibroid to grow rapidly. In some cases, fibroids even disappear without treatment. This however, is not common: most fibroids will grow larger unless you opt for medical intervention.

So, just how big will your fibroids become? Honestly, the size limit is based only on your body’s ability to expand. Fibroids can stretch and enlarge your uterus to accommodate their own growth. In fact, some fibroids get so big that you appear to be in the second trimester of pregnancy!

In extreme cases, fibroids will grow so large that doctors can only treat them with surgery. For this reason, it’s important to begin researching fibroid treatment options as soon as you receive a diagnosis.

Can I Slow Fibroid Growth?

Certain steps, like adopting  a fibroid-friendly diet, may slow the growth of these tumors. Research suggests that dairy products like milk, cheese and ice cream may inhibit fibroid development. Green tea has also been shown to slow fibroid growth and, in some cases, even kill off existing fibroid cells.

For some women, the hormones in certain forms of birth control can help slow fibroid development.

When it comes to interventions that simply slow down fibroid development, there are no guarantees…that’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that we have better treatment options available. Instead of slowing fibroid growth, interventional radiologists like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee are able to use a method known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization to cut off the fibroid’s supply of blood and oxygen. This minimally invasive treatment causes fibroids to shrink and, eventually, die. Want to know if you’re a good candidate for UFE? Just reach out to our Houston area team and we’ll be happy to set you up with a comprehensive consultation.

Warning: Surgically Induced Menopause Hurts Your Heart

When you undergo hysterectomy, we say you’ve gone through surgically induced menopause. Now, when you’re living with fibroids, your main concern is treating your symptoms. You just want to feel like yourself again. As soon as possible. But sometimes, in your rush to find a cure, you don’t think about the consequences of the treatment option you select. Now, studies point out the toll that may take on your long term health. Especially if you choose hysterectomy, an option that leads to surgically induced menopause.

Surgically Induced Menopauses and Heart Disease Risk

So many women with fibroids choose to treat their tumors by having a hysterectomy. With this choice, you remove your uterus, automatically putting yourself into menopause. And once you enter menopause, especially if you do it before you turn 40, you’re at greater risk of osteoporosis, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke. Serious woman

Those conditions are all pretty scary, but they don’t even pain your complete risk picture. In fact, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School, your risk goes up even more if your early menopause is brought on by surgery.

To reach this conclusion, researchers spent six years studying 144,260 women between the ages of 40 and 69. At the beginning of the study, the women completed a questionnaire about the details of their reproductive health. And, throughout the study period, researchers noticed the rate of coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, and narrowing of the arteries for all the women. They also checked up on the women’s blood pressure, cholesterol levels, rates of diabetes, and any other health diagnoses.

What they found was startling. All women who entered menopause before turning 40 had higher rates of cardiovascular problems. But the women whose menopause was trigger by surgery were even more likely to develop heart health issues. And that’s not all: having an early hysterectomy triggers many other problems. Which is something Olivia Lichtenstein recently opened up about in the Daily Mail Online.

Adapting to the New You

While there is no shame in choosing a surgery for pain relief, Lichtenstein writes that she felt ashamed to discuss her procedure. “The onset of menopause shrouds women in a cloak of invisibility; add to that a hysterectomy and the folds of this cloak thicken and feel ever more inescapable,” she says.

Like so many women, Lichtenstein scheduled her hysterectomy to relieve fibroid pain. And, she was 55, had children and wasn’t worried about surgically induced menopause. (She’d naturally entered menopause a few years earlier.) Still, she says, it left her feeling like she was “missing the most vital part of [herself as a]women.”

Of course, for women who haven’t yet completed their families, the emotional toll is much worse. Now, fibroids may impact your fertility. Or your ability to carry pregnancy to term. But hysterectomy is often not the answer. In fact, many hysterectomies could be avoided, if you only explore other treatment options.

For some women, hysterectomies are medically necessary—especially if you are also dealing with a cancer diagnosis. But, for many women with fibroids, non-surgical treatments like Uterine Fibroid Embolization will be equally effective—and cause fewer additional health problems. So, before you choose hysterectomy, we urge you to explore all your fibroid treatment options. Especially the ones that won’t send you into menopause. And we invite you to schedule a consultation with our Houston area fibroid specialists today.

 

Sources: Journal of the American Medical Association

Adenomyosis vs. Endometriosis: Learn the Differences

So many menstrual symptoms can leave you stuck with an adenomyosis vs endometriosis diagnosis. That’s because, if you experience painful periods, heavy bleeding, and chronic pelvic pain, your symptoms could mean a few different things. First, you could have fibroids. But there are two other diagnoses that might apply: endometriosis, a condition in which endometrial tissue leaves your uterus and implants in other parts of the body. When you start your period, this rogue endometrial tissue sheds as well, causing you to bleed in your pelvis and beyond. This bleeding can leave you with cysts, scar tissue, and adhesions.

Adenomyosis also causes these kinds of symptoms, but it is a separate condition. With adenomyosis, endometrial tissue lodges itself deep in the muscle of the uterus. It does not leave the uterus.

While initial symptoms seem to be similar, there are several ways in which these conditions affect you differently.

Distinguishing Symptoms of Adenomyosis

As we mentioned, both endometriosis and adenomyosis leave women with pelvic pain and heavy bleeding. What’s different is the timing of that discomfort: women with adenomyosis usually experience that pain around their periods. Women with endometriosis have period pain, but often also experience pain with bowel movements and at other times in their cycle.

Both conditions result from uterine tissue growing outside your uterus. But with adenomyosis, that tissue also penetrates the muscular wall of your uterus, developing inside the tissue. For many women, this triggers symptoms that are far more invasive than those associated with endometriosis.

With adenomyosis, your period could feel like it’s gushing out. This could lead to iron deficiency, anemia and dizziness. And that’s on top of the chronic pelvic pain and uncomfortable sex we already discussed. Of course, many of these symptoms might also mean fibroids or endometriosis. Which is why your healthcare provider may go through several diagnostic tests to get you the proper diagnosis.

Adenomyosis vs Endometriosis: Differing Diagnosis Methods

Endometriosis can be tough to diagnose, which is why many women can only confirm they have this condition after laparoscopic surgery (a doctors insert a thin tube with a light and camera into a small incision in your stomach. This tube lets them see the lesions, cysts, and adhesions that confirm this condition.)

In contrast, women with adenomyosis can usually receive their diagnosis with an MRI or transvaginal ultrasound. These minimally invasive tools can also confirm the scope of your condition: if you have just a few cysts in your uterus, your adenomyosis is considered focal. If the tissue is widespread within your uterus, you will be diagnosed as having diffuse adenomyosis.

Treating Adenomyosis: UAE Can Help

For both endometriosis and adenomyosis, there are a wide variety of treatment options. These include options as simple as birth control pills or an IUD, to an array of surgeries, some as serious as hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy is the only cure for these conditions, but other options can help control your symptoms. For women with adenomyosis, there is a newer treatment available: UAE, or Uterine Artery Embolization. (This treatment may also be called UFE, uterine fibroid embolization, but the process is the same.)

With UAE, particles are injected into the uterine artery to block the blood flow to the specific problem area in your uterus. The goal is to deprive the tissue of both blood and oxygen, so your condition will abate. The procedure involves an overnight stay in the hospital.

Our doctors use three types of particles: smaller, normal and larger particles. This new protocol has increased UAE’s effectiveness rate to 80%. For this reason, UAE seems to be an excellent short term treatment option for many women.

If you have adenomyosis and are seeking relief, we’re here to help. Go online and schedule a consultation at our Houston area adenomyosis center. Or, to speak with one of our doctors, please give us a call anytime at 713-575-3686.

 

Sources: ABC Everday, Health.com

 

3 Surprising Hysterectomy Side Effects

Hysterectomy causes major side effects, and they aren’t just menopause and infertility. Now, many women with fibroids think they need a hysterectomy—a surgical removal of the uterus. And some are told it’s the only way to relieve fibroid symptoms. But there are less invasive treatments available, like uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This is a problem because, no matter what the reason, women who undergo hysterectomies face major surgery complications. And now, studies show that hysterectomy side effects may include mental and physical health struggles. We’ve already explored how hysterectomy side effects damage your heart health. So, today, we’ll explore this surgery impacts your memory and your anxiety levels.

How a Hysterectomy can Hurt Your Mental Health

Women’s risk for anxiety and depression increase after  hysterectomy, according to a study in the journal Menopause.

To reach this conclusion, researchers reviewed the medical records of 2,094 hysterectomy patients. For this study, none of those women had cancer. Next, they compared the records to those of same-aged women who hadn’t had a hysterectomy. And then they followed both groups for 22 years.

As it turns out, woman’s risk for depression relatively increased by 26 percent with hysterectomy. And the risk for anxiety increased by 22 percent after hysterectomy. Researchers discovered that age matters, too. In young women, who had a hysterectomy before 35, there was a 47 percent increased risk for depression. Also, the anxiety risk increased by 45 percent. Outside of cancer, the reason for the hysterectomy didn’t seem to impact the increased risk of mental health issues.

Female with Fibroids

According to lead study author, Dr. Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mayo Clinic, “Hysterectomy is right for some women. But there is this 4 to 6 percent of women who will be affected by depression or anxiety. We’re hoping women will talk with their doctors and see if there’s any alternative they could use instead.”

 

Uterine Surgery May Interfere with Memory

Depression isn’t the only way hysterectomy may affect your brain function. According to a pre-human trial from Arizona State University, a hysterectomy could impact your memory. Now, if that sounds strange, it is. But here’s what we know: your ovaries and brain are connected.  So your estrogen and progesterone levels impact your memory. But we now know that your uterus is tied to your autonomic nervous system. Which means that losing your uterus could affect your cognitive ability.

In order to illustrate this fact, Dr. Heather Bimonte-Nelson studied rats before and after a hysterectomy. Allowing for 6 weeks of recovery time, the study tested their post-hysterectomy working memory. And here’s the bad news: after hysterectomy, rats couldn’t navigate a maze they used to complete. In comparison, rats who kept their uterus had no problem finishing the maze. In other words, losing their uterus directly impacted rat memory. Clearly, this study has troubling implications for human females.

Myofascial Pain After Hysterectomy

And wait, there’s more! Research now links myofascial pelvic pain and hysterectomy! In fact, if you have pelvic pain prior to your hysterectomy, you’re more likely to need prescription opioid medications following surgery. And, as we know, these medications are highly addictive, and part of the growing opioid crisis in this country.

Now, this discovery is troubling. After all, many women choose hysterectomy because their fibroids trigger chronic pelvic pain. So, if the surgery actually makes pelvic pain worse, that could be a reason to seek other treatment options.

 

UFE: The non-surgical fibroid treatment option

Thankfully, many women with fibroids can find a non-surgical alternative to hysterectomy in our Houston-area practice. Using imagine, catheters and an injection, we are able to cut off blood flow to your fibroids, which makes them shrink and, eventually, disappear. It’s a minimally invasive procedure, usually not involving a hospital stay.

If you have fibroids and are concerned about having a hysterectomy, reach out to our doctors. We can help you determine if UFE is the right treatment option for you.

Sources: Menopause, The New York Times, Journal of Endocrinology

Fibroid Surgery vs UFE? Less invasive treatment gives Equal (or Better!) Results

Fibroid surgery vs UFE: how can you choose? Well, we’ve got some exciting news that may help! UFE is just as effective at treating fibroids as myomectomy surgery!

Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that develop in the wall of the uterus. They’re typically non-cancerous, and may go unnoticed by some women. Symptoms of fibroids include heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent urination and pain during sex. Women with fibroids may also have a hard time becoming or remaining pregnant.

Many women are told that a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is the answer to troubling fibroid symptoms. But women who don’t want to have a hysterectomy have to choose between other treatment options, including Uterine Fibroid Embolization and Myomectomy.

UFE is a minimally invasive treatment. It involves threading a thin tube into the blood vessel that supplies a fibroid tumor. Then, we permanently block the blood vessel with an injection of small plastic or gel particles. That blockage causes fibroids to shrink over time. Myomectomy, in contrast, involves surgical removal of a fibroid tumor. It’s a more invasive treatment, but may be a better option for women who still want to become pregnant.

Even so, we need women to know their options. But only 62% of women know about UFE, according to recent surveys. And, to this day, we still perform hysterectomies 65 times more often than UFE. Which is why, today, we want to help you understand the outcome differences of fibroid surgery vs UFE. So that you can make a truly informed treatment decision.

Study Compares Fibroid Surgery vs UFE and Other Treatments

In one recent study, researchers looked at data from 950 women, half of whom had UFE and half who had a myomectomy to treat fibroids. Both groups of women gave health updates for the following seven years.

After reviewing the data, the findings were pretty clear: the procedures were similarly effective fibroid treatments. Seven years after the procedures, women in both groups had higher hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin rose because heavy bleeding improved.

When it came to follow up procedures, the UFE group fared better. While 9.9% of the myomectomy group needed secondary procedures, in the UFE group, that number was only 8.6%.

And, among the women who had a myomectomy, there were higher rates of post-surgical complications, including the need for a blood transfusion (2.9% versus 1.1% for those who had UFE).

Study author Dr. Jemianne Bautista-Jia said, “The two treatments were comparably effective [and] UFE resulted in more favorable outcomes.” Additionally, the radiology resident at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center noted, women who had UFE had less pain and shorter recovery times. Those women also reported greater relief from heavy bleeding.

These benefits are so clear, but “Patients are often not fully informed of their treatment options…UFE and myomectomy are procedures with similar efficacy and durability for treating fibroids, but the UFE has fewer complications and shorter hospital stays.” She hopes these study findings will help raise UFE awareness. She encourages all women with fibroids to discuss UFE with their doctors before deciding on a course of treatment.

Need more information to explore all your treatment options? We’re here to help with treatment decisions. Schedule an appointment today with our experts, and we’ll help you decide if you’re a candidate for UFE treatment.

Dr Hardee and Kandi Discuss Her Experience with Uterine Fibroids Treatment

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.

What Causes Adenomyosis?

If you’re looking for relief from pelvic pain, you may need to know what causes adenomyosis. After all, this is a hard to diagnose condition, but it could be the cause of your pain. Here’s the story.

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. And all of these factors trigger symptoms that are also similar to endometriosis. (But adenomyosis and endometriosis are two very different conditions.)

What Causes Adenomyosis?

Unfortunately, we still don’t understand the exact cause of this condition, although different thepain from uterine fibroidsories 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.

In some cases, you may develop adenomyosis if the barrier between your uterus and your endometrial lining sustains damage. You could also develop adenomyosis after sustaining damage to your uterine muscle. (That could happen during a Caesarean section. Or it could be the result of myomectomy surgery to remove fibroids. For that reason, choosing non-surgical fibroid treatments such as UFE may be a safer choice. Especially if you’ve had a c-section before.)

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 cyclesThere’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.

Are you living with adenomyosis and need pain relief? Schedule an appointment with our Houston area specialists today. We are here to help you get back to a pain-free life!

Sources: Journal of Clinical and Experimental Reproductive Medicine

#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

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