To Remove Or Not? – The Fibroid Question

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This is one question that lots of women with fibroids deal with constantly. When my mom was first diagnosed with fibroids, she did not feel the impact much. It was just there; it did not have any visible impact, reproductively or otherwise, as she was done having babies any ways.

However, as the years went by, it got worse. It affected her period. Her menstruation that used to last three days and was quite light, now turned into 5 days of heavy flow, that she used more sanitary pads than my sisters and I used combined, for just one cycle.

She started to get lean and pale, no matter the amount of blood boosting medication she took. It was definitely affecting the quality of her lifes. Friends and family came with solutions; some even wondered what we were waiting for. Honestly, our family reunion in November were times I dreaded, because I knew for that one Sunday, I was going to be answering lots of questions about my mom’s health and what we were doing about it. And even more offers of help.

I don’t think there was anyone who didn’t know my mom had fibroids. At first, we went the natural therapy path. She got gallons of concoctions, some made with water and some with the local gin, something my mom had never tasted up until that time. Seeking solutions, she took them all. There were some herbs that she had to chew also during her period.

All I can say concerning these medications was she got relief for some time, but it never lasted and I’m not sure if it shrank the fibroids, because you need to see the huge tumour that was removed from my mom’s uterus to understand that it did not look like it had been affected in any way.

For a very long time, my mom did not want to hear about surgery. Because of her, I spoke to two doctors, who in turn tried to convince her that the surgery would put an end to her monthly pain and improve the quality of her life. For where! She just ignored me and the doctors, so we kept on trying what she wanted.

Until she finally had enough of the pain, earlier this year. She called me and said she couldn’t bear it anymore, and that she had actually gone to the clinic, asked the doctor how much the surgery would cost. Hmm! I knew she was really serious.

Within that week, she had all the preliminary tests done and went ahead to have the surgery, which was a success. It was while I was talking with Nicole about the surgery, that I heard about partial hysterectomy, where the ovaries are kept intact, so that they secrete the female hormones, thus ensuring she was not forced into menopause or be needing hormonal therapy.  I wasn’t present, so I called my sister to tell her to ask the doctor if he and his team were going to keep her ovaries and if not, then to tell them not to remove the ovaries.

You need to see my mom now! She is blossoming, gaining weight by the day and when she was told at her post-surgery appointment that the witch was now not something she should worry about, she literally danced! She is no longer afraid of that time of the month any more. In fact, Aunt Flo has taken a leave of absence from her life and that suits us all very well.

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In the case of a namesake of mine, fibroid nearly made her lose her babies and her life. By the time she got pregnant, she knew she had fibroids but since she conceived easily, it was obviously not an issue to be bothered about…or so she thought, until an ultrasound scan showed that the fibroids was growing at the same rate as her baby and was even denying the baby some nutrients, because of its position.

It became a waiting game, to see if it would continue to grow, or stay static. Her sisters, friends and the rest of her family were worried for her life, and that of the baby. It was simply by God’s grace that she did not die, because she lost a lot of blood. It was so bad that she was losing blood, just as she was being transfused with blood. It was simply a miracle that she survived and the baby was fine too.

After that time, she discussed fibroid surgery with her doctor, and in the end, they decided not to, at least not then, given the location of the fibroid. So Kemi lived with her fibroids, until she got pregnant again. From the very start of the pregnancy, she was huge. You would think she was far along, even when she was just a few weeks gone. Her older sister, who is a friend of mine, nearly suffered a heart attack, because of worry over the health of her sister. Their mom was a mess, so they kept so much information from her. It was impossible to tell their dad, unless you wanted to kill him, so Kemi’s sister bore all the information of what her sister was going through and the effects it had on her.

This time too, she suffered blood loss, but she and the baby were fine. She has however vowed to have a myomectomy, before trying for another baby, regardless of what the doctor says is the location of the fibroids.

Yet another lady, Zynab is struggling with the decision of whether to remove her fibroids or not. True, it’s location might hinder conception, it is, however, small and the doctor is not sure it would grow alongside the baby, if she gets pregnant.

fibroid-illustrationHaving surgery to remove fibroids is a decision that must be made based on certain factors, like:

  1. The fibroids are making it hard for you to get pregnant
  2. You have other symptoms that affect your quality of life, and other treatments have not worked for you.
  3. Taking out the uterus is the only cure for uterine fibroids. But it’s not a good choice if you want to have children (or more children). You can’t get pregnant after your uterus is taken out.
  4. When you reach menopause (around age 51), these estrogen-dependent tumors stop growing and often decrease in size as the estrogen supply diminishes with the onset of menopause. So, you might not need surgery if you are close to menopause.

There are two surgical treatments for fibroids: taking fibroids out of the uterus (myomectomy) and removing the uterus (hysterectomy).

Both types of surgery have short-term risks, such as blood loss and infection. Both surgeries also can cause scar tissue, which can cause pelvic pain and lead to infertility.

With all these in mind, it is still important to have a clear discussion with your doctor, before making a decision.

Godspeed to us all!

 

 

 

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Photo credits:

1. http://static1.squarespace.com/

2. https://a.dilcdn.com/

3. https://fibroids.com/

 

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