Last week, Wednesday, February 27, I had a procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). I am hoping that this will be the beginning of the end of what has been an 8 year journey of life with uterine fibroids.
This post is going to detail my issues with the female reproductive system. If you are in any way squeamish about this sort of things, I promise, you will NOT want to read this. You have been warned.
Part I of this medical journal details the symptoms of uterine fibroids and how I finally went to a doctor only to find out that I had several fibroids, one of which was very large.
Uterine Fibroids are tumors. They are benign (not cancerous) and many women live with them without problems. However they can cause several life-interfering symptoms such as:
Extremely heavy bleeding - Some women report having to stay in bed or near a bathroom for several days to deal with this. In the end, I resorted to using
Depends because I was too stubborn to stay home and stay in bed. A lot of women are diagnosed as anemic due to the bleeding.
Constipation - Fibroids, as they grow, can press against the intestines
Frequent urination or constant pressure - Women with fibroids all tend to have one thing in common. Fibroids pressing on the bladder making it feel as if you constantly have to go to the bathroom. And if the don't outright cause incontinence then the feeling of pressure results in what I call a case of the NoGo's. You always feel like you have to go but you don't. Plus, since there's so little room already, all it takes is a sneeze or hard cough and incontinence can be the result anyway.
Pain/ Pressure - One thing I have learned from this experience - there is only so much room inside the human body. When a woman has a baby, her organs are smooshed to make room. It seems there is some biological accounting for this, but not much. Being pregnant can be decidedly uncomfortable.
Having a large uterine fibroid is like constantly being pregnant. All the pain, pressure and hormonal fluctuations and even weight gain. Your body has to change to support the darn things and any woman will tell you, her body has no end of ways to gain weight. Fibroids help you pack on pounds and also keep you from exercising with all the other symptoms, especially the bleeding. Naturally a lot of overweight women have fibroids, but I think this is more like a chicken and egg conundrum. Impossible to tell which came first especially as women can have fibroids long before they feel the effects of them.
I presented all of these symptoms to my doctor. After an exam and an ultrasound, he confirmed that I had uterine fibroids. At the time, Ye Old Matey and I had decided we wanted to try for a baby. The doctor told me that my options for dealing with the fibroids were as follows:
1. Hysterectomy - without a uterus, you can't have uterine fibroids. Problem solved. Of course, you also can't have a baby without a uterus.
2. Myomectomy - they simply burn off or cut the fibroids out of the uterus. This is successful for many women however too much loss of tissue or blood and they would possibly have to do an emergency hysterectomy anyway, which I would have to agree too before the surgery.
3. Get pregnant anyway - the fibroids should not interfere with pregnancy. There would be additional weight and pressure, but that would be all. I should be able to have a normal pregnancy and could deal with the fibroid issue afterward.
Considering the permance of Option 1 and the scariness of Option 2, Ye Olde Matey and I decided to go with Option 3. Even then we dithered over whether we really wanted to add to our family or not but by the following spring our minds were made up. We'd long since stopped using any sort of birth control and we didn't talk about if, but when we would have a little one running around.
And then my father died. And the world came crashing down around us again, as it had when Ye Old Matey's grandmother and mother had passed away a few years before. Our world of grief only seemed to emphasize the fact that we wanted to create a new life.