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Category: UFE

#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.

 

Let’s Talk About 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. 

But take heart: there is help available, both for your fibroids and your 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

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

#WCW: Tanika Gray Valburn

It’s #WomanCrushWednesday! Today, we honor Tamika Gray Valburn, founder of The White Dress Project. For years, Tanika suffered from fibroids .  She saw her mom lose two sets of twins due to her own fibroids, but didn’t make the connection to her own diagnosis right away! 

In fact, Valburn didn’t officially get a fibroid diagnosis until her late teens, even though she experienced painful symptoms. “You just think it will skip a generation,” she recently revealed in an interview. “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. 

And, because her fibroids caused such heavy periods, Valburn said, ““I’ve had to learn 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. In 2014, Tanika convinced a Georgia state representative to officially declare July as Fibroid Awareness Month, helping women get the crucial health information they need.

But she didn’t stop there. Tanika realized that she’d 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 fibroids awareness, supporting research, and bringing together a community of women who work to empower one another.  The white dress became their symbol, as it signified a milestone in Tanika’s recovery – the moment she could rock a white dress without any fear. Now, the white dress has become a symbol of strength and power to other women dealing with fibroids, becoming one step in the fight to take control of their menstrual health issues.

As doctors involved in the daily battle against fibroids, we salute Tanika, our forever #WCW. We invite all women who are dealing with fibroids to slip on their white dresses and take control of their health by learning more about UFE, a minimally invasive treatment for fibroids!

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 a new French study, that school of thought may just be changing. Woman holding a pregnancy test

Fertility After UFE

In this 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. 

Of course, with unlimited UFE, recurring symptoms are much less frequent. But, because the full procedure impacts blood flow to your uterus, it may impact your chances of getting pregnant. So, for women who want to avoid surgery and still plan to have children, limited embolization UFE appears to be a great option. 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: ask4ufe.com, europeanradiology.org

There’s A Treatment for Fibroids That Improves Your Sex Life

It’s no secret that uterine fibroids can cause you to experience a number of unpleasant symptoms. Women commonly report bloating, abdominal pain and irregular or heavy bleeding, none of which are conducive to enjoying a typical sexual relationship. In fact, the effects of life with uterine fibroids can be debilitating for some women.

Results after UFEUnfortunately, half of women diagnosed with uterine fibroids are told that having a hysterectomy is their only option–even though studies show that uterine fibroid embolization is safe, effective and produces fewer complications than surgical hysterectomy.

Improved Sexual Function after UFE

In an  EFUZEN study conducted in 2016, researchers looked at how the procedure known as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) affected sexual function in women.

Study participants underwent imaging with MRI before treatment, and again at three and six months after having the procedure.

Researchers wanted to know if fibroid embolization would help improve the women’s sexual function, and if so, by how much. They also sought to evaluate the participants’ quality of life before treatment and one year after UFE. They hoped to gain a better understanding of how fibroid size impacted a woman’s sexual function and her quality of life.

The study used two scoring systems: 

  • Female Sexual Function Index [FSFI] score
  • Uterine Fibroid Symptom Quality-of-Life (UFS-QOL)

Both of these are commonly used by physicians and researchers exploring women’s health conditions.

Results of the Study

When the study was concluded, researchers found women who had UFE enjoyed a significant improvement for both scores. FSFI improvement was shown in 78.8% of women one year after treatment. 90.2% of women reported an improvement in their USF-QOL scores.

The numbers don’t lie. UFE can help reduce ALL your fibroid symptoms, so you can reclaim your sexual health.

If you suffer from uterine fibroids, talk to your doctor about the options and see if a uterine fibroid embolization procedure is right for you.

What African American Women Must Know About Fibroids

There is a common health condition in this country affecting as many as 80 percent of adult African American women. It can drastically affect quality of life, causing pain, excessive bleeding and even affecting fertility. And these women are, all too often, not given sufficient information about their treatment options! 

Fibroids: A Common Problem

The condition we’re discussing is uterine fibroids, fleshy, non-cancerous tumors that develop in, on or around a woman’s uterus. While the reasons why aren’t entirely clear, fibroids are three times as common in African American populations as in Caucasian ones.

Unfortunately, many of these women are denied appropriate fibroid care. They are told to undergo hysterectomies—the complete removal of a woman’s uterus—to cure their fibroids. And, while a hysterectomy will eliminate a woman’s fibroid problems, it can cause a whole range of new health problems, aside from immediate infertility. Studies have shown that hysterectomies, especially in women under 40, can lead to incontinence, loss of sex drive, depression, obesity issues and cardiac problems later in a woman’s life.

While that fact is scary enough, the scarier fact is this: hysterectomy is not the only option for women seeking relief from fibroid symptoms. There are surgeries that remove the tumors while keeping the uterus in tact (myomectomy.) And, even more excitingly, there are non-surgical procedures that can cut off blood flow to a fibroid, effectively killing it, without forcing a woman to deal with hospital stays or extended down time. Known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization, the treatment is a wonderful option for women seeking to avoid the expense and risks of a more invasive surgical procedure. The only problem is: many women aren’t even told about this option.

#FibroidFix

That’s where health care activism has to step in and make a difference. Interventional radiologists like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee are fighting to help all women improve their access to health care by spreading the word about UFE. We believe that women should be told about all available treatment options so they can make informed healthcare decisions. And we want your help in this mission. Share your fibroid stories (and info on alternatives to hysterectomy) with the #FibroidFix and help us get women’s health care issue trending!

Shelley’s Story

Uterine fibroids is a condition that affects over 70% of women in the U.S. by age 50. Excessive menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain are common symptoms of uterine fibroids, and often disturbs one’s day-to-day lifestyle. Shelley, a patient at Houston Fibroids, suffered from uterine fibroids and described her periods and cramps before fibroid treatment as “excruciatingly painful” with excessive bleeding. Additionally, she found sexual intercourse to be quite painful.

Shelley didn’t want to resort to getting a hysterectomy to treat her conditions, and went through an informative consultation process with Houston Fibroids to explore less invasive treatment options. Shelley had minimal pain and downtime after the Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) procedure, and after a year, has no symptoms of uterine fibroids. “It’s been a little over a year and I’ve had no pain during sex anymore, no bleeding during sex anymore, my cramping is very light, it’s normal now, and my periods are not heavy whatsoever.”

When asked if she had advice for anyone suffering from uterine fibroids, Shelley recommended the UFE procedure. “I’ve always recommended this. It was recommended to me from another patient, and I truly feel it changed my life.”

If you would like to learn more about how UFE can help treatment uterine fibroids, contact Houston Fibroids at (713) 575-3686 for a consultation.

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#WCW: Helping Vanessa Beat her Fibroid Pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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