There are very few things in life I truly hate and Uterine Fibroids is one of them. According to the Women’s Health.Gov, Uterine Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. Most often they are (benign) not cancerous. Furthermore, they can grow as a singular tumor or multiple tumors; they can also grow outside the walls of the uterus. African-American women are more likely to develop fibroids than white women. According to the National Uterine Fibroids Foundation, over 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States. Hysterectomies account for over 144 million lost work hours.
I remember my menstrual cycles being painful from day one. The heavy cramping and bleeding, I figured was just part of the process. In my early 30’s, I noticed a significant change with my menstrual cycle. Suddenly, I was having more than one period per month or they would last longer than 7-10 days. The cramping became extremely painful similar to contractions during labor. I still didn’t think to see my gynecologist about my issues and just took some over the counter pain medication and continued on. The decision to not immediately follow-up with my doctor was not a wise one. Eventually, the pain and bleeding became unbearable. As my conditioned worsened, I found myself in the ER more frequently. Ultimately, I started taking prescription strength pain medication, so that I could just function.
My life became one big blur. The pain medication made me sleepy, but I could function enough to go to work only to come home and head straight for the bed. During this time, I became extremely emotional and depressed. I was too embarrassed to go many places because of the heavy bleeding and fear of messing up my clothes. Towards the tail end of my ordeal, I was a newly married wife and couldn’t cater to my husband sexually the way he deserved which created frustration in our new marriage.
I stopped putting of my visit to my gynecologist and scheduled an appointment. During the meeting, she reviewed some options that I could try in an effort to resolve my condition. The first procedure I tried was the uterine ablation or endometrial ablation. During the procedure my uterus was thinned using an electrical current. It was a same day procedure and my recovery time was two weeks. Unfortunately, the procedure did not work for me and only seemed to make my situation worse. I became so frustrated because I just wanted the bleeding and the pain to stop. I didn’t want a hysterectomy, but if it became necessary, I was okay with having the procedure done. I was placed on hormone therapy and that didn’t work either, my bleeding actually increased during the hormone therapy. Desperate for the pain to stop, I started looking at my options concerning a hysterectomy.
My gynecologist was hesitant about performing a hysterectomy on me because of my age and instead suggested that I have the Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) procedure as a last ditch effort. I had a two MRI’s one before the procedure and the other after the procedure. During the UFE a thin tube was inserted into my femoral artery, then threaded through various blood vessels connected to the fibroids. The tubes contained small particles which cut off the blood supply to the fibroids. This procedure proved to be the most effective. My recovery time for this procedure was two weeks. In about a month my menstrual cycles returned back to normal; cramping and bleeding became minimal and tolerable. I no longer needed pain medication to function. I was slowly able to get back to my old self
I’m thankful for the procedure and grateful for my gynecologist who insisted on trying other options instead of insisting on a hysterectomy. Presently, I’m still experiencing great results. My heart truly goes out to the many women that suffer from uterine fibroids. Don’t suffer in silence. Speak with your gynecologist about your options. For additional information regarding uterine fibroids, please visit the following: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/uterine-fibroids.html and http://www.nuff.org/health_statistics.htm .
Janet Michelle, xoxo