UFE Was the Answer to My Prayers
By Alicia Armeli

Gwen-Tyler

“My life is so wonderful,” said Gwen Tyler, a Corporate Paralegal who resides in Atlanta, Georgia. But this wasn’t always her story. Just three years ago, uterine fibroids were taking a mental, emotional, and physical toll on her everyday life. Unwilling to accept hysterectomy as a cure for her fibroids, she searched for other treatments and found uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) to be the non-surgical option she needed.

In 2013, Gwen started to experience long, heavy periods. Thinking it was normal, her bleeding didn’t concern her until 2014 when she became very anemic and began to lose her hair. “I couldn’t go anywhere because I was bleeding so heavily,” she recalled. “I got really depressed and so I spent most of my time at home because I was afraid to go out. I didn’t know where I would have an accident—it was very embarrassing. It was just taking the life right out of me.”

In August 2014, her gynecologist diagnosed her with uterine fibroids. Now understanding the cause of her bleeding, Gwen looked forward to treatment and relief. But even after having a myomectomy to remove her fibroids, her abnormal bleeding started again just four months later. Following further examination, her gynecologist found another fibroid—and this time recommended surgically removing her entire uterus. “[My gynecologist’s] treatment for fibroids was to have a hysterectomy, which was very upsetting to me at the time,” she explained. “I didn’t go back to him for treatment.”

For some, this may have seemed like a setback—but Gwen took it as an opportunity to explore her options. “I had prayed that I would get an answer for this, because the answer that my doctor gave me was unacceptable,” she said.

Like many women who are looking for alternatives to hysterectomy, Gwen didn’t learn about all of her options from her doctor—but from the media. “I was watching the television show, ‘The Doctors,’ and fortunately for me, Dr. Lipman was on that show that day,” she smiled. After watching Dr. John Lipman of Atlanta Interventional Institute explain the benefits of UFE, she knew she had to call and make an appointment.

Although excited at the prospect of a non-surgical cure, she was also concerned. With fibroids so large they were pushing her uterus into the upper part of her abdominal cavity, she wondered if she was even a candidate.

But after consulting with Dr. Lipman and meeting his staff, Gwen’s worries were a thing of the past. “I knew Dr. Lipman could help me—I just felt he was the answer to my problem for fibroids,” she said. “[His staff] at the office was very engaging. They made me feel very comfortable.”

Following UFE, Gwen described her recovery as amazing. With cramping only lasting one day after the procedure, she reported feeling like “a million bucks” and only needing ibuprofen to ease any discomfort. “The biggest problem I had was with my husband telling me that I needed to rest,” she laughed. “I had no pain at all—for me it was just wonderful.”

Gwen was in for another pleasant surprise. During a follow-up appointment scheduled in April 2015, she learned her fibroids had shrunk significantly and her uterus had moved back to its pre-fibroid position.

Without the bulk and bleeding her fibroids caused, Gwen felt like a whole new woman. “Life is so much more full, happy, and wonderful since I’ve had UFE,” she expressed. “I have a lot of energy. I get to go out with my friends and enjoy life like I did before I had fibroids.”

By sharing her story, Gwen hopes to show women with fibroids they aren’t alone and to encourage them to look beyond surgery. “In my research, I became aware that a lot of women have fibroids,” she said. “And that there are options other than hysterectomy.”