Category: UFE

What Does Uterine Fibroid Embolization Cost?

If you’re exploring fibroid treatments, you may wonder how much does uterine fibroid embolization cost? This non-surgical procedure is less invasive than surgical options. Plus, most women avoid overnight hospital stays with UFE. And, since you can usually return to work within 11 days of UFE, it may be a less costly option. Let’s take a closer look.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization Cost: Insurance and CareCredit Uterine Fibroid Cost

As we mentioned, UFE can be less expensive than hysterectomy and myomectomy. (Those are the two main surgical treatments for fibroids.) It’s also less invasive, which means you’re likely to experience a faster post-procedure recovery, as well as fewer complications after treatment.

Still, that doesn’t mean there’s no uterine fibroid embolization cost. So, to help you afford UFE, our Houston fibroid specialists accept most private insurance plans. We also work with Medicare. And we help you navigate the insurance process, so you understand the exact costs of your procedure before you receive treatment.

While insurance should cover the bulk of your costs, you may still need to meet your deductible. Alternatively or additionally, you may need to cover a co-pay or co-insurance bill. And we know that these bills may be challenging. So we also accept CareCredit, a special healthcare credit card that’s designed to help you cover the uterine fibroid embolization cost. (As well as the cost of other medical procedures.)

At this point, we hope you have a better idea of the financial cost of treating UFE. So let’s take a look at the cost of living with fibroids, by exploring the emotional and financial cost of living with these non-cancerous uterine growths.

Economic Cost of Fibroids

Yes, treating fibroids involves out-of-pocket expenses. But research reveals that living with them can also pull on your wallet. Here’s the story.

According to the CARE About Fibroids foundation, American women living with fibroids face an economic toll of about $17.2 billion because of missed workdays, lost job opportunities, and having to take short-term disability. Also, since fibroids can also impact your fertility, or lead to pregnancy complications, the cost doesn’t stop there. In fact, fibroid-related fertility issues cost up to $7.8 billion each year for coverage alone. And that doesn’t begin to reflect the emotional toll women face, especially women of color, who are disproportionately affected by fibroids.

How Fibroids Impact Your Life Female with Fibroids

Because fibroid symptoms impact your menstrual cycle and your sex life, the emotional toll can rival your physical discomfort. In fact, in one survey, 21% of women with fibroids said their condition interfered with family relationships and friendships. A whopping 52% of these women worried about their ability to have a sexual relationship.

Now, these figures focused on all women with fibroids, regardless of race. But Black women face an even tougher emotional road, and that’s a result of several factors. First, Black women are three times more likely to develop fibroids than White women. (And their tumors develop at a younger average age: by the time they turn 24, at least 25% of Black women will have a fibroid.)

Next, Black women’s fibroids trigger more and worse symptoms. They develop pressure, swelling and bloating two times more frequently than white women. And when it comes to anemia, they’re three times more likely to develop this condition, often triggered by heavy periods.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Black women also face more hospitalizations for fibroids. And their resulting medical costs and number of surgeries are also higher than those White women face. On its own, this fact would be troubling. But it makes the next statistic even more concerning: 32% of women with fibroids delay seeking treatment. Meaning the cost of living with fibroids could easily and quickly equal the uterine fibroid embolization cost.

UFE Costs: Weighing Your Options

There are costs to seeking treatment for fibroids. And there are expenses and concerns that come when you live with fibroids. As a result, this is one of many choices you’ll face after a fibroids diagnosis. But we want you to know that you’re not alone in this process.

First, we want you to explore your treatment options. One-fifth of American women believe that hysterectomy is the only way to treat hysterectomy. But that’s simply not true. In fact, you can click here to see if you’re a good candidate for UFE.

Then, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our team of fibroid specialists in Houston. (We even offer Telemedicine visits to save you some travel while you’re considering your treatment options.) Finally, after your visit, our billing team is here to help you understand exactly what your insurance will and won’t cover. We can suggest other ways to cover any out-of-pocket costs. And we make the process as stress-free as possible, so you can place all your focus on finally feeling better!

Fibroids after Menopause: What you Need to Know

Did you know that you can still have fibroids after menopause? While uncommon, this is true. Now, uterine fibroids are an extremely common type of noncancerous tumor. Many women don’t even know they have fibroids, because they don’t experience symptoms, like pain or heavy menstrual flow. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, waiting to cause problems. Or that they’ll always resolve after your monthly period slows down or stops.

Stages of Menopause

Before we explore fibroids and menopause, you have to understand that the end of your periods happens slowly, in stages. First, there is premenopause; we define this as the years between your first period and perimenopause. Then, perimenopause begins when your ovaries start producing fewer hormones. During this time, which usually begins in your 40s, your periods become unreliable. But, during this time, you can still get pregnant, because you are producing some hormones. So you will also have to worry about estrogen and fibroid growth.

Perimenopause can be brief, or last for several years. We mark its end with menopause, which we say you’ve reached after 12 straight months without a period. Following that time, you’re a post-menopausal woman. So you won’t go through a menstrual cycle. But you still may notice fibroid symptoms.

Fibroids During Menopause

During menopause, your body’s sudden lack of reproductive hormones can cause fibroids to shrink. Typically, the change also prevents new fibroids from forming, but this is not always the case. Menopause is not a guaranteed cure for fibroids, which means that you may continue to experience uterine fibroid symptoms during and after menopause. uterine fibroids in menopause

Risk Factors

Certain conditions or factors can contribute to your likelihood of developing uterine fibroids. These include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Obesity
  • Low vitamin D levels. We’ve recently learned that having enough vitamin D allows your body to produce chemicals that may prevent fibroid growth. So having a deficiency could leave you vulnerable to fibroids after menopause, or at any other time.
  • A family history of uterine fibroids
  • An extended period of extreme stress
  • No history of pregnancy
  • African-American ethnicity
  • Being 40+ years of age

Treating Fibroids After Menopause

There are several treatment options available for women with uterine fibroids including:

Many of these treatments are the same for all women, regardless of age.  Still, menopause may make a more permanent surgical option, like a hysterectomy, more attractive since your childbearing years are over. Younger women that still plan to have children typically prefer to take oral contraceptives or undergo a minimally invasive procedure like UFE.

Even if you’ve experienced menopause, a hysterectomy is a very invasive procedure. That’s why it is important to discuss all of these options with your women’s health specialist. Together, we can help you reach a decision based on your current health and outlook on potential treatments. Click here to schedule an appointment with one of the fibroid specialists of Houston Fibroids, or please contact our office today at (713) 575-3686.

 

US Representative Underwood Joins Women Facing Fibroid Surgery

Recently, US Representative Lauren Underwood had fibroid surgery. Then, with this statement, she announced that  she’ll spend weeks recovering from her procedure. Now, that’s not surprising. After all, fibroid surgery is a major, invasive procedure. It requires hospital stays and lots of downtime afterwards. But it’s not the only fibroid treatment option. Which is something too many women don’t realize, until it’s too late.

Delayed Treatment Forces Fibroid Surgery rep underwood fibroid surgery

That was the case for Indian TV host  Fatma Mohammed who delayed fibroid treatments. That decision limited her treatment options, forcing her to have invasive surgery. Now, she’s sharing her story. And the TV star says she first saw her doctor because of troubling symptoms.  And her caregiver actually diagnosed her fibroids without delay. But, at the time, she says, she only had five fibroids.

Unfortunately, Mohammed did not seek immediate treatment. By the time she was ready for help, the first five fibroids were bigger. Additionally, she’d developed 21 new fibroids. At that point, Mohammed’s physicians opted to surgically remove the fibroids.

The Real Truth About Fibroid Surgery

Following her recovery from this major surgery, Mohammed publicized 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.

Non-Surgical Fibroid Treatment in Houston

Myths about uterine fibroids

In our Houston Fibroids practice, we offer women a non-surgical, out-patient treatment option known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). We insert your IV through an artery in the left wrist, so you 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.

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.

Growth, Size and Other Fibroid Concerns

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.

Finally, the problem gets worse when you consider fibroid size. Once diagnosed, black women’s fibroids tend to be larger than other women’s. Again, we don’t know why that’s the case. But a recent study in Environmental Health Perspectives suggests it could have something to do with early formula feeding for babies. Because, in that study, women who were fed with soy-based formula saw a 32% increase in fibroid diameter, and a 127% increase in the total fibroid problem. This adds insult to injury, in terms of treatment options, because it’s harder to treat large tumors with minimally invasive options. That’s why early detection is crucial if many black women can hope to gain equal healthcare access.

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

Why We’ve Got a Fibroid Treatment Crisis

So many women are affected by fibroids, and we are lucky to have many fibroid treatment options. But here’s a scary fact about fibroids: Most women develop fibroids by the time they are 50.  But about 57% of women don’t know they are at risk! Worse, 44% of women with fibroids aren’t told about all of their treatment options, and a shocking 11% of women think hysterectomies are the only way to treat fibroids!

Unfortunately, the news keeps getting worse. In another recent survey of women age 16 to 64, 64% of those women said they’d immediately schedule whatever procedure their doctor recommended. And, in most cases, stated that was a hysterectomy. Sadly, just 23% of the women said they’d get a second opinion, or research less invasive fibroid treatments.

Sharing Fibroid Treatment Information

Because so many women don’t know their fibroid treatment options, we’re taking part in the #FibroidFix project. Launched by the Society of Interventional Radiology, the goal is to help women learn about UFE. This is a non-invasive treatment option for uterine fibroids. Unlike many other treatment options, UFE is not a surgery. Treatment is delivered through an artery in your left wrist. Using specialized X-Ray equipment, your doctor injects small spheres through a catheter and into the blood flow that supplies your growing fibroids. The spheres, also known as embolic material, are designed to block the vessels around a fibroid, cutting off its oxygen and blood supply so that it starts to shrink. The embolic material remains permanently in place, so that the fibroid can’t start to grow again. news & events

Unlike a hysterectomy or other fibroid treatments, UFE is minimally invasive. The procedure usually lasts about one hour, and most patients can stand and walk immediately afterwards. Though usually performed in a hospital, UFE is typically an outpatient procedure.

Banning Treatment Options

Other non-invasive treatments, such as certain forms of birth control, may help relieve fibroid symptoms. But other drugs, such as mifepristone, may also help women find relief. Yet most women won’t hear about this option.

Why is that the case? Well, the Federal Drug Administration approves this drug for early abortions (up to 10 weeks.)  So, even though it can treat fibroid symptoms, and may help women with endometriosis and depression, it’s very hard to access. Even worse? Because of its link to abortions, researchers are less willing to study mifepristone. Meaning it’s unlikely to become an available fibroid treatment in the future.

Closing the Fibroid Information Gap

Despite all the obvious UFE benefits, many gynecologists aren’t telling women that UFE is an option when it comes to discussing fibroid treatments. In fact, 77% of women who know about UFE didn’t first learn about it from their gynocologists!

As physicians trained to perform UFE, Dr. Hardee and Dr. Fox think this lack of information is a major problem. In our practice, we think that women deserve to know all their options…and they also have the right to protect their fertility and avoid hysterectomies whenever possible! If you agree that fibroid patients deserve better information, join us in taking a stand! Spread the word about UFE and let’s get #FibroidFix trending on Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else you share the latest happenings! And let’s make sure you schedule an appointment at one of our Houston area fibroid treatment centers, so that you don’t fall victim to this crisis!

Sources:  Society of Interventional Radiology, USA Fibroid Women Health Survey

Can I get Pregnant After UFE?

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is an effective, minimally invasive fibroid treatment. For years, we didn’t know how UFE affects fertility. Women who wanted kids had myomectomies (surgical removal of fibroids.) Now, thanks to several studies, we’re learning more about fertility after UFE. And how many women get pregnant after UFE, both of which may just be changing that school of thought.

Today, we’ll explore how UFE may affect your chances of having a family. But first we’ll walk you through the procedure. And let you know what your recovery will look like, so you can know what to expect right after having a UFE procedure.

What Happens During and After UFE?

Woman holding a pregnancy test

As we mentioned, UFE is a less invasive fibroid treatment option. During the procedure, our doctors make just one small incision, either in your groin or wrist. Next, we insert a small tube through the incision. This allows the doctor to insert X-ray equipment and guide it to reach your uterine artery—and your fibroids.

Once there, we can inject small embolization particles into your arteries. This blocks oxygen and blood from reaching and nourishing your fibroids, so they shrink and die over time. And we don’t remove the embolization particles from your uterine arteries, so the tumors don’t return.

A UFE procedure lasts about one hour or less. You should be able to go home the same day as your procedure, and you won’t require general anesthesia.  Still, you shouldn’t drive yourself home after UFE. The pain medication you receive during your procedure may compromise your reaction time, so driving that day won’t be safe.

Post UFE Symptoms

Even with medication, lower stomach pain is possible after UFE. (It should feel like menstrual cramping.)  To make sure you’re safe, you’ll be monitored for several hours (between four and 23) following procedure. How you feel will affect how long you’ll need medical monitoring.

Once you’re ready to go home, your doctor will let you know when to take your pain medications. You’ll also receive important details about post-UFE care, including when to schedule follow up appointments. (Usually they’ll come one week and three months after the UFE procedure.)

The post-UFE cramps are normal, and should resolve after a few days. You may develop a fever, so be sure to check with your doctor about which medications are safe to take, since some could interact badly with your prescribed pain medications.

If pain meds make you nauseous, call your doctor right away, since you can receive a different prescription.  In some cases, you may experience a condition known as “post-embolization syndrome.” Characterized by symptoms such as a low grade fever, mild nausea and discomfort, it can come on anywhere from a few hours to a few days after UFE. But it should be fairly manageable.

Resuming Activity After UFE

Within days of your procedure, you should be cleared to resume light activities. Then, 11 days of UFE, almost all women can return to work and all normal activities. So, now you know what to expect right after this fibroid treatment. But what can happen to your fertility after UFE? Let’s take a closer look!

Fertility After UFE

In one French study, researchers followed 15 women, all about 35 years old and with no apparent fertility problems. All of the women treated their fibroids with UFE. Typically, UFE eliminates fibroids by injecting an embolizing substance into all the blood vessels and arteries surrounding a tumor. For this study, doctors changed things up. They embolized the vessels that directly gave blood to fibroids, but left other nearby arteries untouched, allowing blood to flow into the unaffected uterine tissue. The procedure, called a limited embolization approach, was supposed to spare the women’s fertility while also relieving their fibroid symptoms.

Nine of the women were actively trying to get pregnant at the time of treatment. Within a year, five had babies.  Three and a half years after the modified UFE, eight of the women had given birth to 10 babies! Those are numbers that we love to see.

And that’s not all the good news. The women reported a 66% reduction in their fibroid symptoms, and an incredible 112% improvement in their overall quality of life. Only five women still experienced symptoms, seeking follow up treatments.

Can I Get Pregnant After UFE? Fibroids can impact your fetal development

If you dream of having a family, you want to be sure UFE won’t end that dream. Which is why you’ll probably want more than one studying confirming its safety. Luckily, new evidence emerges every day that you can get pregnant after UFE.

Recently, a study from India reviewed women’s health history between January 2012-2018. Specifically, they followed 28 women between the age of 22 and 35. Each of these women had UFE treatment for one of several conditions.

After their procedures, 86% of the women had at least one successful pregnancy. And 21% of the women had two successful pregnancies after UFE, just within that short time period.

And the news gets better. Of those successful pregnancies, 62% of the women had vaginal deliveries. Just 38% of the women delivered their babies via caesarean section. A statistic that’s fairly close to the national average: according to the Centers for Disease Control, 31.9% of U.S. births each year are via c-section.

While the study size is limited, these results are great news for women who want to get pregnant, and want to avoid fibroid surgery. And, as research continues, we believe more studies will provide similar evidence.

Choosing Your Fibroid Treatment Options

In the first study we explored, the fibroid treatments were altered. But in our second study, the women received a typical UFE procedure. And that’s an important distinction. Why?

Because, with unlimited UFE, the full procedure impacts blood flow to your uterus, it may impact your chances of getting pregnant. So, some women still may choose limited embolization UFE. But, as more studies on getting pregnant after UFE, without limits, emerge, we hope your fibroid treatment options will expand. Without sacrificing your dreams of starting or expanding your family.

In the mean time, we promise to keep you updated on all the latest research. So, for more information on UFE, and to see if the procedure can work for you, schedule a consultation with one of our Houston area fibroid specialists. Relief may be available without hospital stays–all without giving up on your dream of having a family!

 

Sources: Europeanradiology.org, Interventional News, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Raising Fibroid Awareness in Houston, One Dress at a Time

July was National Fibroid Awareness in several cities and states, and Houston has joined that group now, which is something we’re very excited about. So, in recognition of her efforts, we honor Tamika Gray Valburn, founder of The White Dress Project. For years, Tanika suffered with fibroids. Her mom lost two sets of twins because of her own fibroids. But even with the family history, Tamika didn’t make the connection to her own diagnosis!

In fact, Valburn’s fibroids were diagnosed in her late teens. At that point, she’d experienced years of painful symptoms. “You just think it will skip a generation,” she’s explained in interviews. “When you’re young, you’re not thinking it will be your story as well.” But, like so many women, Valburn discovered that fibroids do tend to run in families.

Living with Fibroid Symptoms

Because Valburn’s fibroids triggered heavy periods, she “learn[ed] how to pad myself [to keep from leaking through clothes.] I know the whole formula—what kind of underwear to wear, what kind of tights, what kind of Spanx. I’ve tried and tested everything. It’s become a way of life.”

Eventually, Tanika surgically removed 27 fibroids from her uterus. After her recovery, she wanted to help other women. So, in 2014, Tanika earned a Georgia state representative’s support in declaring July as Fibroid Awareness Month. The goal? Helping women get the crucial health information they need.

But she didn’t stop there. Tanika realized that she never bought white clothing. She said, “It’s a simple thing. Like, who cares, why not just wear black? But I love clothes, and the fact that I had to sacrifice wearing white for these benign tumors—I wasn’t feeling it.”

The White Dress Project


That same year, Tanika founded the White Dress Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting fibroid awareness, supporting research, and bringing together a community of women who work to empower one another.  After all, this is crucial. According to the CDC, one in three women will have a hysterectomy by the time she turns 60. But, according to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 18.3% of those hysterectomies aren’t medically necessary. So, why do women have these surgeries? They don’t know about other options!

That’s where Tanika and her project want to make a difference. And they’ve made white dresses their symbol, as it signified a major milestone in Tanika’s recovery: the moment she could rock a white dress without any fear. (Because minimally invasive surgery helped resolve her painful fibroid symptoms.) Now, the white dress has become a symbol of strength and power to other women dealing with fibroids. And it’s just one more step in the crucial fight to take control of women’s menstrual health issues. Especially for Black women like Tanika, who are disproportionately at risk for avoidable hysterectomies. And for the serious complications that often come with open surgery. 

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!

Sources: The White Dress Project, Healio Primary Care

How UAE Can Stop Postpartum Bleeding and Save Fertility

After giving birth, some women hemorrhage and doctors need to stop the postpartum bleeding. And quickly, or the new mother could die. Often, doctors perform emergency hysterectomies, saving the mother’s lives but costing them future futility. Thankfully, now, a new study suggests a better alternative: UAE (Uterine Artery Embolization.)

What is UAE? Fibroids can impact your fetal development

UAE is also called UFE—uterine fibroid embolization—because we use this procedure to treat fibroids. During UAE, we use a slender, flexible tube (catheter) to inject small particles into your uterine arteries, stopping the flow of blood. If you have fibroids, this starves the tumors of their blood supply, and they shrink and die. But if you have postpartum bleeding, it can stop uterine hemorrhaging, and may prevent the need for hysterectomy (removal of the uterus.)

Can UAE Stop Postpartum Bleeding?

A new study from Emory University’s School of medicine suggests it can! Led by Dr. Janice Newsome, researchers learned that, right now, women with postpartum bleeding are 60% more likely to get a hysterectomy than UAE. And that’s a problem, because “UAE is safer and has an easier recovery than hysterectomy,” she said at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s virtual annual meeting.

She also noted that postpartum bleeding is common. Each year, about 100,000 women in this country develop this condition. And postpartum bleeding is still the leading cause of global maternal mortality.

Currently, most women are treated with a blood transfusion. But the second most common way to stop postpartum bleeding is to give women a hysterectomy.

UAE vs Hysterectomy After Delivery

Here are the stats according to Dr. Newsome’s team. For every 1000 women with postpartum bleeding, 116 received transfusions. About 20 of those women received hysterectomies, while only 13 women were treated with UAE.

While a hysterectomy can stop postpartum bleeding, it also comes with serious, permanent side effects—plus instant loss of fertility for these new moms. Plus, after hysterectomy, moms were twice as likely to face long hospital stays. (Not to mention hefty hospital bills!)

Even more worrying? Hispanic women in particular were more likely to receive a hysterectomy. As were women in rural communities. Or those who were Medicaid patients.

In response to these findings, Dr. Newsome suggested adding an interventional radiologist to the hospital maternal medicine team. She hopes that will help reduce the rate of hysterectomy for postpartum bleeding going forward.

Choosing UAE in Houston

While our team of interventional radiologists doesn’t offer postpartum care, we do offer UAE. And we’ve helped many women with fibroids avoid hysterectomy, while relieving their painful symptoms.

Are you looking for fibroid relief? And hoping to keep your uterus and avoid hysterectomy? We’re here today! Reach out to our team today and schedule a consultation. We can help you decide if you’re a good candidate for UFE!

SOURCES: Janice Newsome, MD, Emory University, Atlanta; Society of Interventional Radiology

 

Sonata vs UFE: Which Should I Choose?

If you want to treat uterine fibroids without surgery, you have two options Sonata vs UFE (uterine fibroid embolization). Today, choosing UFE, uterine fibroid embolization, is not that unusual. This has been a proven alternative to hysterectomy since 1994, almost 10 years before Condoleeza Rice chose this fibroid treatment option. At that time, UFE was a relatively new fibroid treatment method. Nonetheless, Ms. Rice chose this minimally-invasive procedure—and publicized her decision to help other women understand their options.

Today, Sonata is the new minimally invasive fibroid treatment. But, unlike UFE, this option can’t address all fibroids. That’s why our Houston area fibroid specialists are sticking with UFE. And helping you understand the differences between Sonata vs UFE.

 

Sonata vs UFE: Avoiding Fibroid Surgery

Back in 2004, 30% of hysterectomies in the U.S. were performed on women with fibroids. And, at that same time, only 13,000 women each year opted for fibroid embolization—after all, it was first performed by French doctors in 1995, so it was relatively new less than a decade later.

Even so, Ms. Rice made a bold choice and, after just a one night hospital stay, was able to successfully treat her fibroids with UFE. The procedure itself lasted just an hour and a half. She was treated on a Friday and back to work on Monday.

Now, hearing that a somewhat-new fibroid treatment worked well may tempt you to try Sonata. But, before you head in that direction, let’s check out the difference between the two minimally invasive fibroid treatments.

What is UFE?

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) cuts off blood supply to the tumor, slowing their growth and ultimately shrinking the fibroid. As a result, with UFE, you can target large and small tumors. Plus, we can treat your fibroids regardless of their location. And we can treat them all at once, instead of putting you through multiple procedures. Finally, UFE can also provide relief from adenomyosis, a painful condition that can be hard to diagnose and treat.

But wait, there’s more good news! In our Houston fibroids practice, we now use trans-radial access for UFE, which means we treat your fibroids through the radial artery in your left wrist. Unlike the early days, when Ms. Rice had UFE and the femoral artery provided treatment access, our method has fewer complications and is less painful.  It also means that our patients can sit up and walk right after the procedure, leading to quicker recovery times. In other words, this is a tried-and-true fibroid treatment that provides a safe and effective alternative to fibroid surgery. Now let’s explore the alternative.

What is Sonata?

The Sonata Treatment is an incision-free option for treating uterine fibroids. Like UFE, Sonata uses ultrasound-guided treatment. But, unlike UFE, Sonata targets individual fibroids with radiofrequency. This does not cut off blood flow to the area, so the tumors have to be treated individually. And that’s a major problem, since most women with fibroids have 10-15 growths. Meaning Sonata would take too long to treat all your fibroids, and is thus not a viable option.

Plus, because of the delivery method, Sonata is most effective for small fibroids, but may not work well for larger fibroids. Also, when you use Sonata, doctors have to leave a rim of fibroid intact—so you’re never 100% free of fibroids. That’s why many patients come to our office, asking for UFE, when their fibroid symptoms don’t improve after Sonata treatment.

Still, like UFE, Sonata is minimally invasive. So, if you choose this option, you can return to normal activities the next day. And, when used for small fibroids, results showed that most women were satisfied with their results. And did not need repeat interventions one year following their procedure. In the longer term, however, the results don’t look great. In fact, over 50% of women who choose sonata vs UFE have a recurrence at the five year mark. Meaning more symptoms, more pain, and a return to the treatment table. 

Choosing Sonata vs UFE

Back in 2004, UFE was a cutting-edge procedure for Condoleeza Rice—but it spent the next 16 years just getting better. In contrast, Sonata is today’s new fibroid treatment option. Yet, unlike UFE, this option has limits on its effectiveness. Now, it may get better as time progresses. And specialists hone their treatment approaches. But, today, our fibroid specialists are aware of Sonata’s limitations. Which is why, when you’re choosing between Sonata vs UFE, we recommend sticking with the treatment with a proven track record. And we invite you to schedule a consultation in our office, to see if you’re a good candidate for UFE!

#WCW: Talking Fibroid Pain with FKA Twigs

On this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday, we are celebrating singer (and former Robert Pattinson fiance) FKA Twigs for opening up about her fibroid pain and treatment journey. Back in 2018, the star revealed on Instagram that she had  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.”

More recently, Twigs went on the TTYA Talks Podcast to give an in-depth account of her journey with fibroids.

Fibroid Pain and Loneliness

Sadly, for FKA Twigs, the journey to healing was extremely tough. Two years ago, she shared: “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.”

And on the podcast, she got real about how scared and alone she felt while dealing with her symptoms.

“You could physically see them—like I could put my hand into my stomach and grab them like eggs,” Twigs said. Still, she avoided seeking treatment until her pain was so terrible that she needed immediate medical care.

“I was working so much,” she explains, “and I was so determined [to] make an album, that I actually knew that I had some sort of growth in my stomach for a long time, and I didn’t do anything. I assumed that I had stomach cancer and that I was going to die. It was kind of this underlying stress that I have never told anyone about.”

FKA Twigs and the Road to Recovery

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.”

And, two years later, her message is still empowering other women living with the pain of uterine tumors. After Twigs’ appearance, TTYA host Irene Agbontaen said, “When Twigs first told me she had fibroids – I have to be honest I didn’t realize how many women suffer from them. The more she educated me and the more research I did I was so surprised by the high percentage of women of color who have fibroids. Twigs is a very shy and private person, but she was so passionate about telling her story.”

Finding Alternative Fibroid Treatments

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!

Sources: Grazia Magazine

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