So many women in this country are living with fibroids. These uterine tumors are the most common kind in the U.S. Typically, they aren’t cancerous. But they can cause symptoms such as heavy periods. And pelvic pain, which often travels to your lower back, hips and legs. If you have fibroids, you may have to urinate more often (frequency.) You could even face constipation.
Now, we do know how to treat fibroids. Yet many doctors tell their patients to just watch these tumors. Waiting for them to grow and cause problem. For women living with fibroids, that’s a big deal. Because waiting for fibroids to grow limits your treatment options. And, as Houston fibroid specialists, we want women to avoid fibroid surgery. But that is often only possible if you seek early treatment.
Unfortunately, living with fibroids takes short-and-long term tolls on your health. Especially for women of color—up to 80% of black women have fibroids. And their lives are disrupted.
Consider the impact of living with fibroids. How can you go to work with a heavy period? When you constantly worry about leaking onto your clothes or furniture? After all, you could pass a clot at any moment. Which means a day at work requires serious protective gear. You may double up on pads and tampons. If your periods are really heavy, you might even need an adult diaper to feel safe leaving your house.
And don’t forget. Heavy periods aren’t just embarrassing. That monthly blood loss can leave you fatigued. Or even trigger anemia. But, in the face of all these challenges, women keep pushing through. Whether it’s fear of losing your job. Or you’re simply too embarrassed to talk about “women’s issues,” you keep to your routines. Even while fibroids make it difficult to do so.
Sometimes, this challenging routine lasts for years. In fact, a 2013 study in the Journal of Women’s Health revealed that most women wait 3 ½ years before treating fibroids. Even scarier? Twenty-five percent of the women waited 5 years—or longer—before treating their fibroids. At that point, many women faced limited treatment options. Because their fibroids were large.
Now, here’s where the news gets worse. These are the main reasons study participants delayed treatment.
1. They didn’t want surgery
2. They wanted to keep their uterus
3. They never knew about alternatives to fibroid surgery
Then, by the time they went for treatment, surgery was the only safe option for too many women.
The saddest part of these findings is that you can treat fibroids without surgery. In fact, many women living with fibroids find relief from an outpatient, non-surgical treatment known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE.) While it’s been around for 25 years, there’s still too many women who don’t know about this option.
Unlike surgery, UFE typically lasts less than one hour. You procedure begins with a tiny incision in your femoral artery. This allows your doctor to pass a catheter to your uterine artery, so we can get near your fibroid tumor. Then, we can deposit embolic material (small spheres) that stop blood flow to your fibroids. So they shrink and stop causing symptoms.
Right after the procedure, you may get cramps, and your doctor will help keep you comfortable. You typically can return to light activity a few days after your procedure. And, unlike a hysterectomy, many women can still have children after UFE. Although some women prefer a myomectomy if they still plan to have children.
Regardless of your choice, it’s important to know you have options. Want to learn more? Schedule an appointment with our specialists to see if you’re a good candidate for UFE. Because living with fibroids often means pain. And you don’t have to live like that if you don’t want to.
Sources: Journal of Women’s Health
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