Category: UFE

What Black Women Need to Know About Risk and Fibroid Treatments

Up to 80 percent of adult black women have fibroids and will need to explore fibroid treatments. 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 even fertility loss. Here’s the worst part: many women, especially black women, don’t have access to quality healthcare. So they never explore their fibroid treatment options. For that reason, many women choose hysterectomy (removing their uterus) when they could have explored less invasive treatments. And we believe that has to change.

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 fibroids are three times as common in African American populations as in Caucasian ones.

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 has to step in and make a difference. We see exciting developments in government already. And say thank you to Senator Kamala Harris for introducing a bill to expand fibroid research. 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 about all available treatment options. It’s the only way they can make informed healthcare decisions. About fibroid treatment or any other health challenge. Now, we want your help in our mission. Sp please share your fibroid stories (and info on alternatives to hysterectomy) on our website or social media. Use the hashtag  #FibroidFix and help us get women’s health care issue trending!

Sources: 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 supplys 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.

Closing the Fibroid Information Gap

Despite all these obvious 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!

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

Raising Fibroid Awareness, One Dress at a Time

July is National Fibroid Awareness month, and that’s something we’re very serious about. So, today, 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

#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

This is How to Deal with Painful Sex and Fibroids

Results after UFE
Even with fibroids, you and your partner can enjoy a healthy sex life

Let’s talk about sex, ladies…sex and fibroids. Fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that grow in your uterus, can cause some unpleasant side effects, including heavy bleeding and clotting during your period, fatigue, cramps, anemia, frequent peeing and constipation. That’s a long list of things that, not surprisingly, may take away your desire to get intimate with a partner. After all, in addition to these symptoms, the location of your tumors may even make the physical act of love painful or, at the very least, uncomfortable. 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Painful sex is quite common. In fact, there is a medical term for discomfort during or after intercourse: it’s called dyspareunia. And approximately 25% of women experience dyspaurenia at some point in their intimate lives. It certainly makes intimate relationships more challenging. 

But take heart: there is help available, both for your fibroids and your physical love life. First, your fibroids. A diagnosis of uterine fibroids does not have to mean painful surgery. In our Houston fibroids practice, we offer minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that can permanently shrink the tumors without any incisions and with little or no post-procedure down time. Known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) it is an option every woman should consider before exploring more invasive treatments like surgeries and hysterectomies. Now, to your love life. While we do not claim to be sex therapists, there are measures you can take to restore your desire for intimacy after fibroids. 

Bedroom Help for Fibroid Patients

  1. Be open: talk to your partner about the way that you’re feeling and the effect fibroids have had on your body. Connecting in a warm, loving conversation can lead to a stronger physical connection. 
  2. Go slowly and communicate: during intercourse, make sure you tell your partner what does and doesn’t feel comfortable. 
  3. Stay simple: forget the kama sutra. When dealing with fibroids, simpler sexual positions may be best as they are gentler on your body. 
  4. Embrace all intimacy: remember–there is more to your relationship than just sex. If intercourse is too painful before your fibroid treatments, you can always seek other ways to be intimate with the special person in your life. 

Sources: azuravascularcare.com

https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/evewoman/

 

Warning: Fibroid Meds Linked to Liver Damage

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

The Danger of Fibroid Medications

 

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

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

Embolization: A Less Complex Fibroid Treatment

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

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

Check Out This Crucial Women’s Health Revelation

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

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

Why Hysterectomy isn’t Always The Fibroid Answer

A 10-year Dutch study followed 156 women after their uterine fibroid treatments. All of the women had symptoms that could have been treated with hysterectomies. But 81 were treated with embolization and 75 had hysterectomies. Ten years later, the women reported their quality of life. And only 28 embolization patients still needed a hysterectomy! Plus, the  53 women who avoided hysterectomies were just as symptom-free as the 75 women who had hysterectomies right away. In short, the results prove that hysterectomies shouldn’t be the first plan of attack in a fibroid treatment plan. As study leader Jim Reekers says, “Uterine artery embolization is a well-documented and good alternative to hysterectomy for symptomatic uterine fibroids, on which all eligible patients should be counseled.” 

What’s Involved in UAE and UFE?

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

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

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

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

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

Find Out More

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

Sources: Parent’s Africa Magazine, CVIR Endovascular Journal

#WCW: Condoleezza Rice, UFE Trailblazer

Today, many women treat uterine fibroids without surgery. Choosing UFE, uterine fibroid embolization, is not that unusual. But back in 2004, when Condoleeza Rice was national security advisor to this country, this was not the case. 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. For that, she is our original (and always) Woman Crush Wednesday.

Choosing to Avoid Fibroid Surgery

At the time Ms. Rice treated her non-cancerous tumors of the uterus, 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 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.

What is UFE?

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) cuts off blood supply to the tumor, slowing their growth and ultimately shrinking the fibroid.

In our Houston fibroids practice, we trans-radial access, which means we treat your fibroids through the radial artery in your left wrist. Unlike when Ms. Rice had UFE, and the femoral artery provided treatment access, this 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 2004, UFE was a cutting-edge procedure—and it just keeps getting better. Plus, today, far more women know about and choose this minimally-invasive treatment. Still, too many women don’t know about UFE…and end up having unnecessary surgeries. Join us, and our WCW Condoleezza Rice, in spreading the word. Tell your female friends: #chooseufe!

Update: Menopause Doesn’t Always Cure Uterine Fibroids

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, even after your monthly period slows down or stops. 

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 that can contribute to your likelihood of developing uterine fibroids. These include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Obesity
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • 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 Postmenopausal Uterine Fibroids

There are several treatment options available for woman 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.

It is important to discuss all of these options with your women’s health specialist as they will be able to help you reach a decision based on your current health and outlook on potential treatments. To schedule an appointment with one of the fibroid specialists of Houston Fibroids, please contact our office today at (713) 575-3686.

 

Is UFE the Fibroid Fix for You? (Checklist included)

When you have fibroids, it’s hard to pick a treatment plan. There are so many different options. Some involve surgery, some don’t. Of course, you want to relieve your symptoms and minimize your down time. And one great option is Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). That’s because it’s an intervention that doesn’t require overnight hospital stays or surgery. But, like any medical procedure, it isn’t for everyone. How can you know if UFE is right for you? Let’s explore this quick checklist. 

Who Should Have UFE?

For some people, myomectomy (surgery to remove a fibroid) will be the right choice. Others may need a hysterectomy (removal of uterus.) But, you may be a candidate for UFE if: 

  • You have fibroid symptoms
  • Keeping your uterus is important 
  • You want to avoid surgery
  • Surgery would be dangerous for you
  • You are not pregnant

There are other factors to consider when it comes to UFE, which is why we’ve included this easy checklist. Fill out the form honestly and bring it in with you to your next doctor’s appointment. As you review your answers, know this: if you’ve responded yes to one or more of the categories, you may be a good candidate for UFE! Schedule a consultation with our Houston area fibroid specialists, Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee, to see if UFE can help resolve your fibroid symptoms! 

Sources: Society of Intervention Radiology

Request an AppointmentRequest an Appointment

Houston Fibroids is now OPEN for business!

Our offices have stringent safety protocols in place to keep you safe and provide the care you need.  We are accepting appointments now. Do not delay necessary medical care and follow-up. Call our office today at 713-575-3686  to schedule your appointment with Dr. Fox, Dr. Hardee, or Dr. Valenson.

Landing Page logo