Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years.
July is Uterine Fibroid Awareness Month. This month is an opportunity for women (and men) to learn about a condition that can be debilitating for women. In 2008, in my late 20’s, I received the diagnosis that I had large-sized fibroids that needed to be removed. Only one option was presented for their removal, a myomectomy. An OB-GYN was recommended to me by a close friend to remove the fibroids. The doctor took great care with me and protected my future chances of having children.
In less than five years, my symptoms of fibroids returned. Heavy and frequent menstrual cycles, and cycles lasting 7 days or more plagued me for months. Being new to Houston, I found an OB-GYN who recommended a less invasive procedure to remove the fibroids, a hysteroscopy. Unfortunately, the procedure was unsuccessful in removing a significant amount of the fibroids. I was recommended to a fertility specialist who could remove my fibroids and protect my fertility. Less than 6 months after I was married, my second set of fibroids were removed via another myomectomy. The second procedure and recovery was less straightforward and resulted in complications. However, after ten weeks of recovery, I was better. Within two and half years of my surgery I was pregnant with twins.
It’s been eight years since my second myomectomy and I am facing my third round of fibroids. I’m in my mid-forties and my symptoms are more disruptive. Heavier cycles, 25 days or less between cycles, long cycles lasting 7 days or more, and anemia are ongoing. My initial options were another myomectomy or a hysterectomy. However, the technological improvements gave me space to look into other options – laparoscopic surgery and uterine embolization.
I’ve landed on having an endometrial ablation. This procedure will burn the lining of my uterus and hopefully lessen or remove my menstrual cycle completely. My doctor gives me a seventy-five percent success rate for this procedure. If this procedure is less successful as predicted by my surgeon, a hysterectomy is in my future as a final option.
Awareness of Uterine Fibroids
Fibroids are not fully understood. Consequently, receiving the correct diagnosis may not come immediately depending on symptoms. The greatest cure for this is knowledge. Ask for the ultrasound, keep a diary of symptoms and timing of cycles, bring someone with you to appointments that can further advocate for you. Finally, ask questions of your doctor and when you don’t get answers, go to another doctor who is willing to answer your questions. This is your body, and you deserve to have your questions and concerns adequately addressed.
The word I use to describe my experience with fibroids is – DISRUPTIVE. The surgeries removed my chance for a vaginal delivery. I have weaker abdominal muscles after two surgeries. Fibroids disrupted romantic getaways with my husband who settled for cuddling with hugs and kisses when my period unexpectedly started. Before turning 50, I may have my uterus removed. This on top of ruined clothing due to heavier than expected cycles. Feeling tied to my house during the ‘heavier’ days.
Thankfully, I have the support of friends and family. An understanding husband, physician recommendations, and a sweater to wrap around my waist when the unexpected happened have all been part of the journey. My journey continues. Two days before my birthday in August I will have another surgery. This likely will introduce an undesired conversation with my ever-curious 6-year-old daughter. In this current analysis, I’m thankful I’ve taken taken greater care during this third round. I asked more questions, paused before reacting, and searched out multiple opinions.
To those on this journey – love and light along the way.