How Do Fibroids Affect Pregnancy?

If you suffer from uterine fibroids, you may be wondering if it’s safe or even possible to become pregnant. Many women may not even realize they have fibroids until after they become pregnant and the doctor finds them in an ultrasound.

fibroids affect pregnancy

 

In most cases, fibroids do not pose a problem during pregnancy, but there are situations where they do. Depending on the size of the fibroid and where it is within your uterus, you may run into complications.

Pain throughout pregnancy

During pregnancy, hormones in your body cause your uterus to grow and enlarge to accommodate the growing fetus. The influx of these hormones may also cause the fibroids to grow. Because of the fetus that needs blood to grow, the fibroids may grow beyond their own blood supply, which can cause one of two things to happen.

The fibroids may undergo either red degeneration or white degeneration. With red degeneration, it bleeds into itself, and with white degeneration, portions may undergo cell death and become cystic. These can both cause temporary mild to severe abdominal pain, which can usually be controlled with over the counter medication.

Pregnancy complications

In early pregnancy, there may be bleeding and a slightly increased risk of miscarriage, depending on where the fibroid is in the uterus. If it is submucosal, or grown into the uterine cavity, it can prevent normal implantation of the pregnancy or disrupt the growth of the placenta.

In late pregnancy, there are three main concerns. The first is preterm labor, which is more likely if the fibroid is large or if there are multiple fibroids. The second, placental abruption (the abnormal separation of the placenta) can occur if the fibroid grows into the place where the placenta is attached. Lastly, fetus growth restrictions are possible, but studies have not shown that it is any more likely with fibroids than without.

Delivery complications

Depending on the size and location of the fibroids, they may cause complications during delivery, including causing the baby to lie in breech or transverse position or blocking the progress of labor or expulsion of the placenta.

If it seems like the fibroids may cause problems, the doctor may elect to perform a Cesarean section. At this time, he or she probably will not remove the fibroids because the risk of excessive bleeding is too high. Typically, your fibroids will shrink as your uterus recovers.

Learn more

Under normal circumstances, fibroids should not cause problems during pregnancy, but you should make sure they are closely monitored by your doctor. If necessary, there are options to remove the fibroids during pregnancy that you can discuss with your doctor.

In most situations, it is best to have symptomatic fibroids removed before conceiving. If you are experiencing painful symptoms from uterine fibroids, visit our website to find out more about treatment options.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

5 Delicious Smoothie Recipes to Try on Your Period

Whenever that time of the month comes around, you feel it – cramps, bloating, headaches, and more. Of course, it’s largely due to hormones, but what you eat when you’re on your period can help you feel better.

When you know you’re cycle’s about to start, try starting your day with one of these smoothies. Let us know if any of them work for you!

1. Chocolate Banana Cashew Smoothie

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Satisfy your chocolate cravings and get rid of PMS symptoms with this yummy smoothie. Made with greek yogurt, spinach, and cashews, it’s nutritionally good for you and the ingredients have been proven to decrease bloating and ease cramps. Get the recipe here.

2. Not So Moody Maca Smoothie

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Maca, a Peruvian root, is the base of this smoothie and has been shown to boost energy, balance hormones, enhance stamina, and help you deal with stress, among other benefits. Whipping this one up in the morning will help you get your day off on the right foot! Try it out here.

3. PMS Maca Cacao Milkshake Smoothie

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Another superfood, cacao, is the base of this tasty breakfast. It’s high in magnesium and iron and will be sure to curb those cravings for something chocolatey! Swirled with maca and some coconut milk, it’s a surefire way to look forward to waking up in the morning. Check out the recipe here.

4. Turmeric and Ginger Smoothie

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Turmeric is known for reducing inflammation, so it’s the perfect fix when you begin to feel a little bloated. It also improves digestion and boosts the immune system, ensuring your period will sail right on by. This smoothie also contains peaches, cinnamon, and honey, so you can make sure it tastes good and feels good. Get the recipe here.

5. Banana Boat Smoothie

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Bananas are a great thing to eat at that time of the month, as they prevent water retention and help with bloating. This smoothie also contains ingredients to help with irritability and even headaches! Check out the recipe here.

If you think you may be suffering more from your period than what is normal, there may be an underlying problem. Check out our blog post, “What Could be Causing my Period Pain?” to learn more.

What Are Treatments for Fibroids Beyond Medication?

If you’ve been dealing with uterine fibroids for a while, you may have tried many medications, natural remedies, and diet changes. If nothing has worked, you’re probably at the end of your rope. What else is out there?

treatments beyond medication

 

There are a number of surgical options you can turn to if you have not seen a response to medication. Consult your doctor to decide what will be best for you and how you should prepare.

Hysterectomy

One of the options available to you is a hysterectomy. This involves the full removal of the uterus, including the fibroids. A hysterectomy may be a good option for you if you are past the childbearing age or don’t plan on having children.

There are two types of hysterectomy: a traditional open surgery or a minimally-invasive procedure, although 65% of them are done as an open surgery, which involves a five to seven inch long incision in the abdomen.

There are several ways the minimally invasive procedures can be done, but not every woman is a candidate. If you’re interested in a hysterectomy, talk to your doctor about what type of surgery may be best for you.

Typically, the recovery time for a hysterectomy can be anywhere from three to six weeks and other side effects may include early menopause, chronic pain, or urinary incontinence.

Myomectomy

A myomectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your uterine fibroids and leave your uterus intact. This is an option for women who want to bear children and keep their uterus.

There are three types of myomectomy: abdominal, laparoscopic, and hysteroscopic. The abdominal myomectomy involves a horizontal or vertical incision in the abdomen, while the laparoscopic consists of a few small incisions around the abdominal cavity. A hysteroscopic myomectomy involves removing the fibroids through the vagina and cervix.

Recovery time for a myomectomy can be anywhere from one to six weeks, depending on the type of procedure you have. You will likely have to avoid certain activities for an amount of time after the surgery, such as excessive exercise or sexual intercourse.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

UFE, or Uterine Fibroid Embolization, is a less-invasive procedure that involves blocking the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink. UFE is a great option for women who want to be back on their feet quickly and want a more comfortable recovery.

UFE is performed by an interventional radiologist, who makes a small incision in the groin area and guides a catheter through the uterine artery, where he or she inserts small embolic materials that block the blood stream. Once the fibroids aren’t receiving the blood they need to grow, they will begin to shrink.

The recovery time for uterine fibroid embolization is about seven to 14 days, after which you will be able to resume normal activities symptom free. Side effects are rare, but could include early menopause or infertility, among others.

Learn more

To find out more about these procedures, visit our other blog posts: The Facts About a Myomectomy, Hysterectomy: An Infographic, and What Are the Particles Used to Block the Arteries in UFE?

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

How to Set Goals You Won’t Break

It’s never a bad time to set new goals. Whether it’s the beginning of a new year, you’re starting a new job, or just a Tuesday, it’s always good to better yourself.

But how many of those goals do you actually follow through on? Maybe you go to the gym every day for the first two weeks, but then you have a hair appointment so you don’t go one day and then your habit is ruined. Or maybe you do really well on saving money for a few months, but then you decide to splurge on a new pair of shoes.

It might not seem like it, but the problem might be in how you’re setting your goals. Follow the steps outlined in this post, and you’ll be on your way to accomplishing the things you’ve been dreaming of.

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Step One: Set your long term goals.

If you’re not sure where to start, try setting goals in each area of your life: career, financial, physical, spiritual, relationships, and personal. Think about your end goal first. Do you want to be a certain weight? Do you want to save some sum of money? Decide what you want, and write that down.

Step Two: Break it down into smaller increments.

Take your long term goal and create smaller, short term goals that will help you reach it. For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year, you might set smaller goals to lose 5 pounds every three months.

Step Three: Make your goals SMART.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. Take a look at each of your goals and make adjustments to fit these criteria. For example, for your weight loss goal, you already have the time-bound, measurable, and results-focused parts met – lose 5 pounds in 3 months. If you were to make it more specific, you could include your goal weight. Only you know if your goal is measurable or not.

Step Four: Assess your obstacles.

Spend some time going through each of your goals and writing down any obstacles you might encounter, any resources you need, and what success looks like. In the weight loss example, obstacles might include unhealthy temptations, lack of time, or scarcity of support. You might need resources like a gym or healthy snacks. Success could look like a more active you.

Step Five: Take action.

Now that you’re loaded with goals and have an idea of what obstacles you might face, it’s time to get to work!

What are your goals? Leave a comment and let us know, and if you need some inspiration, check out our blog post 10 Ways to Get More Out of Life.

 

Uterine Fibroids: An Infographic

fibroids an infographic

Uterine fibroids affect many women, and you could be one of them. But what are they, and how do you know if you do have them? Get all the answers in our infographic!

Uterine fibroids infographic

If you think you may have fibroids and want to learn more, visit our website at www.ask4ufe.com or click here to see more about uterine fibroid embolization.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

10 Foods to Help With Menstrual Cramps

You’ve experienced it: cramps running through your abdomen and it seeming like nothing will help. You’ve taken painkillers, you’ve applied heating pads, you’ve spent a whole day in bed watching Netflix.

However, have you ever stopped to think that what you eat during your period – and even the week before – could help your body deal with cramps and reduce other symptoms as well. Eating these ten foods in addition to other healthy choices can make a big difference.

help with cramps

1. Water

You hear it everywhere, but drinking enough water can solve so many problems on its own. Hydrating can prevent acne, keep away cramps, and can especially help with bloating. If you’re getting enough water, your body won’t retain liquids, keeping you comfortable.

2. Calcium

Getting some calcium in your diet can be a huge help in terms of cramping. However, you don’t want to get your calcium from dairy products, because they can actually trigger cramps. Other sources of calcium include almonds, sesame seeds, and leafy green vegetables. There are also supplements available, but make sure to consult your doctor before taking anything he or she has not recommended.

3. Dark chocolate

It’s not unusual to get cravings for chocolate while you’re on your period, but you want to make sure to choose a more healthy option. Dark chocolate will satisfy your craving, help relax your muscles, and keep you happier without consuming the fat and dairy in other types of chocolate.

4. Celery

This crispy, light vegetable is full of water and has zero calories. It will help with bloating and is just good for you overall. If you don’t like the taste, spread it with peanut butter or dip it into the next food on this list!

5. Hummus

Hummus can be a great complement to many of the vegetables you should be eating to quell the cramps. It’s made of chickpeas, which are not only good for you, but can help you sleep better and put you in a better mood. Eat it with celery, carrots, or some healthy wheat crackers.

6. Pineapple

This summery fruit helps your muscles relax, which will in turn reduce your cramps. It will also help with bloating and can even boost your mood, making you feel happier! You can eat it plain, drink it as a juice or in a smoothie, or grill it for a delicious treat.

7. Bananas

Have you ever heard that you should eat a banana after exercising to stop muscle cramps from settling in the next day? The same thing is true for menstrual cramps. Eat a banana before or during your cycle to avoid cramps and reduce bloating.

8. Tea

You should be avoiding caffeine during your period, since it can make you anxious and retain water, so kick that coffee addiction and replace it with tea. Different types of tea can help with different symptoms. For example, green tea can help with cramps, while peppermint tea can soothe an upset stomach.

9. Spinach and kale

Leafy green vegetables are a superfood and one of the things you should always have in your diet. During your period they can help with cramps and be a great source of the calcium you need, as mentioned above. If you hate the taste, try blending it into a smoothie with some fruit and almond milk.

10. Salmon

This delicious, flavorful fish is stock full of omega-3 and vitamin D, both of which help with PMS symptoms, so make sure you eat this the week before your period. It also has anti-inflammatory effects, keeping your cramps in check and reducing bloating. Add some teriyaki sauce and bon appetit!

When that time of the month comes along next, try some of these foods and see if they help. If you think there might be more problems during that time than just your average cramps, check out our blog post When Your Period Signals a Problem.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About UFE

As you’re considering how to treat your uterine fibroids, you probably want to know the details of all the different options: how to prepare, what to expect during the procedure, and how recovery will be.

With uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), it’s no different. You know the pros and cons, but you want to know more, and the best place to find the answers is with the interventional radiologist who will be performing the procedure. Use these five questions to get the conversation started.

5 Questions

1. How often is the procedure successful?

The particles used in UFE are inserted into the uterine artery, which supplies 99% of blood flow to the fibroids. When this blood supply is blocked, all of the fibroids are treated, meaning that the procedure will be successful.

Occasionally, the fibroid is getting enough blood from another source to stay alive. Normally, this will be identified and treated at the same time as the uterine artery, but if it is not identified, another procedure may be required.

However, as one doctor reported, the success rate is about 95-98% for good candidates of the procedure.

2. Are your patients happy with UFE?

The statistics show that around 90% of patients are satisfied at follow-up. Dr. Linda Hughes, an interventional radiologist in Miami, FL, puts it this way:

“Yes, typically patients are very happy with the procedure in terms of the short amount of time it take for the procedure itself, the short recovery time and how quickly they see results from the procedure.”

3. What are typical complications and how often do they occur?

With UFE, complications are very rare. As with any surgical procedure, infection is possible, but it happens with very few patients.

Other than infection, there is the risk of ovarian failure or premature menopause, which affect less than 2% of patients. If that were to occur, the patient would work with her gynecologist to begin hormone replacement if possible.

4. How long should I expect to be in recovery?

After the procedure, you will likely stay in the hospital for one night so the nurses and doctors can continue to monitor how you’re doing. You will experience moderate cramping in the pelvis for up to 6 hours after the procedure is performed.

Once you return home, you may be affected by “post-embolization syndrome,” which has been described by previous patients as flu-like symptoms – fatigue, fever, nausea, and achiness. This usually goes away in 3-5 days.

Most patients are able to return to work and light activities within 7-14 days, which differs from person to person. More strenuous activity should not be attempted until at least two weeks after the treatment.

5. Will my fibroids or symptoms come back?

Since UFE blocks the blood supply to all the fibroids, there is a very low chance that they will come back. If there is another source supplying the fibroids with blood, there is a possibility that they could continue to grow, but if so, that supply can be treated.

UFE shrinks the fibroids to 40-60% of their original size, so while they will likely remain, you will not experience any more painful and frustrating symptoms.

Learn more

Your conversation with your doctor shouldn’t stop here. To hear interventional radiologists’ answers to these questions and more, visit our Videos page.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

What Causes Fibroids?

Anywhere from 20-40% of women over the age of 35 may be affected by uterine fibroids, noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle wall of the uterus. With so many women affected, will you be one of them?

Although there is no definite cause for uterine fibroids, there are some factors that may increase the risk.

What causes fibroids

 

Hormones

Fibroid growth is largely attributed to the levels of estrogen and progesterone being produced in the body. Estrogen makes the tumors grow and the fibroids themselves contain more hormone receptors than normal uterine muscle.

For this reason, fibroids usually stop growing and shrink once the body reaches menopause and stops producing as much estrogen. In the same way, fibroids often grow faster during the first trimester of pregnancy and then shrink after the birth.

Genetics

If fibroids run in your family, evidence has shown that you may be more likely to get them yourself. Fibroids have changes in their genetic makeup that are not found in the other muscle in the lining of the uterus, and these changes may be passed down through family members.

If your mother has had fibroids, you are about three times more likely to be affected by them than someone without the genetic ties. In addition, it is more likely for identical twins to both have fibroids than non-identical twins.

Hair relaxers

Women who use hair relaxers may also be more likely to get fibroids. A study done on 23,000 African American women showed that using hair relaxers may be linked to uterine fibroids. More specifically, the scalp burns caused by the relaxers may increase the risk.

The use of hair relaxers has not been proven to cause fibroids, however, the study does show that women who use them have a higher incidence of uterine fibroids. They may also be linked to earlier puberty. Women who get their periods earlier in life may be more prone to fibroids as well.

Other factors

There are a few minor factors that may influence the prevalence and growth of fibroids. Other substances in the body could affect fibroid-growth, such as those that help maintain tissues including insulin-like growth factor.

Diet and obesity may also be linked to fibroid growth. Very heavy women can be two or three times more likely to be affected by fibroids, and a poor diet can be detrimental as well. Eating dark, leafy greens can help lower the risk.

More information

If you think you may be at risk or affected by fibroids, you can learn more about how to tell by reading our post How to Know If You Have Uterine Fibroids.

If you do have uterine fibroids and are looking for a solution, please download our free ebook, Uncomfortable with a Hysterectomy? 4 Easy Steps to Seeking Alternatives.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

What is the Uterine Fibroid Embolization Procedure Like?

Maybe you’ve decided to undergo uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), or maybe you’re considering the procedure and want to learn more about how it helps with uterine fibroids, which are noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscular lining of the uterus. Choosing a procedure can be a big step, and it’s important to have all the information you need to make a decision.

What is UFE like

 

Find out exactly what to expect if you do decide on UFE, including how you will feel before, during, and after, and who you can depend on to manage your treatment.

How do I prepare for UFE?

The first time you meet with your interventional radiologist, the doctor who will perform your UFE procedure, he or she will explain everything in detail to you. Your doctor will tell you about any tests that will happen before the procedure and anything you should be aware of to prepare to have UFE.

Together, you will decide what kind of sedation will work best for you. Most of the time, doctors choose to use conscious sedation, which means you will be awake during the procedure but will be groggy and relaxed.

At this time, you should also tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, gelatin, shellfish, contrast agents, or iodine. This will help you avoid an allergic reaction during the procedure.

What will happen the day of the procedure?

When you arrive at the hospital, the radiology staff will get you prepped for your procedure. This includes starting the sedation and any other medications, drawing blood, and starting an IV. Once the sedation starts to take effect, you will begin to feel groggy and will be moved to the procedure room.

You won’t have much memory of the actual procedure. It begins with a small incision in the groin area through which the doctor will guide a catheter. Using x-ray equipment, he or she will guide the catheter through the femoral artery, to the uterine artery, to the location of the fibroids.

There, your doctor will inject embolization material into the bloodstream leading to the fibroids. Once the blood supply is blocked, the fibroids will be deprived of oxygen, which will cause them to stop growing and begin to shrink.

This process will be repeated on the other side of the uterus, using the same incision. The catheter will then be removed and the interventional radiologist will close the incision. The entire procedure will take about 30-60 minutes.

What can I expect after UFE?

You will most likely stay in the hospital overnight and be sent home the next morning. During your stay, you will be able to monitor your pain through medication and if there are any issues, the doctor will be able to oversee them.

Once you return home, you’re likely to experience some cramping and pain in the abdomen. Your doctor will prescribe you medication to help deal with that. Some patients experience “post-embolization syndrome,” including flu-like symptoms and mild nausea.

The recovery time for UFE is around seven to fourteen days, and you will have a follow-up appointment with your doctor a week after your procedure. Most women return to light or normal activity just a few days after the treatment.

Learn more

To hear more, directly from a doctor that performs the UFE procedure, watch the videos from Dr. Linda Hughes and Dr. Suzanne Slonim.

You can learn more about what to expect after UFE through our blog post, What to Expect After a UFE Procedure.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

12 Habits to Help With Daily Stress

When you’re dealing with fibroids on top of everything else in your hectic life, things can start to become stressful. You need to keep track of your kids, pay bills, and somehow make some time for yourself, all while your fibroid symptoms make things extra difficult.

There are tons of ways out there to deal with stress – it’s just a matter of finding the right way for you. Here are 12 habits for you to try out, especially when you don’t have a lot of extra time in your day.

12 habits to help with stress

1. Deep breathing: When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stop and take a moment to take three deep breaths and exhale them all the way. It helps put things in perspective and give you the strength you need to keep going.

2. Squeezing a stress ball: The motion of gripping a ball and squeezing it can help distract and soothe you. If you don’t have one, you can fill a balloon with flour to make your own.

3. Stretching: Loosening up your muscles gets your blood flowing, which can instantly make you feel better. Make time for a quick tricep or hamstring stretch while you’re standing in line at the grocery store or sitting in the car at soccer practice.

4. Drinking water: Staying hydrated will keep you alert and feeling good throughout the day, making it less likely for stress to have the same detrimental effect on you than it might otherwise.

5. Self-talk: Tell yourself that you can make it through whatever you’re dealing with right now. If you have to, force yourself to be positive, and you will eventually start to believe it. It’s kind of a “fake it till you make it” type of approach.

6. Write it out: Taking a second to write down what you’re stressed about and how you’re feeling about it will help release some of the tension you’re feeling. You’ll be able to see the big picture – and making a habit of writing can even help physical ailments heal faster as well.

7. Go for a walk or drive: Focusing on something else can help you calm down from a stressful situation and allow your mind to wander to think of solutions. If you’re in an overwhelming environment, stepping out for a short walk can allow you to approach the issue with new eyes.

8. Use your senses: Doing something sensory can be an instant mood lifter. Touch something soft like a fleece blanket, smell a rose, listen to uplifting music, or suck on a mint.

9. Do what you love: Making time for yourself to read a book, do an art project, or watch your favorite TV show can make a huge difference. Even if you only do your hobby for 15-20 minutes, it can have an effect on how the rest of your day goes.

10. Meditate: This doesn’t have to be a spiritual or religious practice. Sit down in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and visualize yourself in a peaceful or safe place. Keep this image in your mind while you breathe slowly in and out.

11. Set up for success: To avoid being rushed in the morning, try setting out your clothes and making your breakfast and lunch the night before. You won’t spend time trying on lots of different options or trying to throw a meal together, and will be more likely to be on time to wherever you need to go.

12. Avoid stressful situations: If you know something is going to overwhelm you, avoid it if possible. Drive in the slower lane on the highway or go to the store in the morning so you can skip the after-work rush.

Now that you’re armed with an artillery of tips to help you deal with the stresses of life, you can face every day head on. For more ideas on how to improve your daily life, read our blog post 10 Ways to Get More Out of Life.

For information on fibroids and the treatments that are available, visit our website at ask4ufe.com.