Watch Now: Finding Relief for Fibroids

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September 10, 2015


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This post is available in: Spanish

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths in the wall of the uterus. They typically occur in women of the childbearing ages of 25 to 44, according to the National Institutes of Health.

But for African-American women and those with a family history, the rate of occurrence is much higher. A survey published in the October 2013 Journal of Women’s Health revealed that African-American women are three times more likely to get fibroids than Caucasian women. In this population, fibroids also seem to occur at a younger age, grow more quickly and are more likely to cause severe symptoms that interfere with daily life.

“No one knows for sure why African-American women are disproportionately affected because no one knows what causes fibroids or what makes them grow or shrink,” says gynecologist Rafael Perez, M.D., medical director of the Fibroid Center at South Miami Hospital’s Center for Women & Infants.

Fibroids can grow as a single tumor, or there can be many. They can be as small as an apple seed, or as big as a grapefruit.  While not all women with fibroids have symptoms, for some the symptoms can be severe.

Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids

Problems that fibroids can cause include:

  • Heavy, prolonged or irregular menstrual periods
  • Severe menstrual cramps
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Pain or pressure in the hips, pelvis or legs
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Anemia
  • Pregnancy and fertility complications

One treatment option is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). A nonsurgical procedure performed by an interventional radiologist, UFE destroys the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink.

According to interventional radiologist Adam Geronemus, M.D., associate medical director of the Fibroid Center at South Miami Hospital’s Center for Women & Infants, there are two main factors that determine who makes a good candidate for UFE:

  1. An active blood supply to the fibroids that provides an avenue to facilitate the embolization.  This is determined by images obtained from an MRI done prior to the procedure.
  2. The size and location of the fibroids.

There are several benefits of UFE. It is less-invasive than some traditional treatments and has a shorter recovery. It is also an alternative to a hysterectomy and spares the uterus to preserve fertility.

“In patients with heavy menstrual bleeding due to fibroids, 95 to 98 percent of them are satisfied with the results of the procedure and how it improves their overall quality of life,” Dr. Geronemus said.

Plagued by life-disrupting symptoms for several years, Brenda Cooper Walker sought the help of experts at the Fibroid Center at South Miami Hospital’s Center for Women & Infants to find relief.

Watch the video as she shares her story and the physicians who treated her explain their team-centered approach.


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